It may, occasionally, catch fire but, otherwise, it’s amazing

Lamborghini is known for making some of the world’s most outlandish cars. The Aventador is arguably the last of the old-school greats, a big, heavy supercar with a naturally aspirated V-12 engine positioned behind the seats and its tiny brother, the Huracan, has been a steady seller for years.

But Lamborghini wasn’t always hell-bent on making supercars with its first cars being laid-back grand tourers. It all changed, however, when the Miura arrived. And then, while everyone was still wiping off their drool, Lamborghini struck again with this, the Miura SV.

The daddy of all modern supercars

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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In the early ’30s, Clark Gable and Gary Cooper would sometimes race their identical Duesenberg SSJs through Hollywood, their 6.9-liter, straight-engines bellowing a harrowing noise as the skinny bias-ply tires of the pre-War era struggled with the 400 horsepower made by what was the most powerful automobile manufactured before WWII. With a top speed of about 150 mph (or more, according to some sources), the SSJ was also the fastest car money could buy during the roaring ’30s and many consider it to be the first supercar.

Undoubtedly, Mercedes-Benz knew how fast a Duesenberg can be, after all, the American cars raced at Le Mans in the ’30s and often did battle with Stuttgart’s own supercar, the SSK. But the Ferdinand Porsche-designed two-seater, although similar in philosophy with the Duesenberg, couldn’t match it: the 6.0-liter inline-six topped off with a supercharger delivered no more than 300 horsepower.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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So, after the War, Mercedes-Benz wanted to build the ultimate road car and tasked Rudolf Uhlenhaut with the job since he’d been instrumental in the development of the most powerful pre-War Grand Prix car, the 637 horsepower W125 from 1937. Uhlenhaut, however, traded outright power for lightweight and agility and, thus, the 300 SL was able to win at Le Mans and on other ultra-fast tracks despite the fact that its carburated engine cranked out less than 200 horsepower.

But, with a low-slung, streamlined body whose lines were dictated by the tubular chassis hiding underneath the sheet metal, the 300 SL looked the part - especially when the gullwing doors were opened. The Mercedes, just like the Duesenberg, was front-engined but, as the years rolled on, the racing world began once more to dabble with the rear-mid-engine layout pioneered by the rivals of the Silver Arrows, the equally silver Auto Unions.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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Cooper proved that the concept worked and the others soon followed suit after it became obvious that the mid-engined cars were miles ahead in the handling department compared to the front-engined ones. But that didn’t mean you’d find fast street-legal cars with the engine in the middle hanging around in showrooms in the early ’60s (road-worthy race cars notwithstanding).

Ferrari’s 500 Superfast, a sumptuous grand tourer built for the American market, could do 170 mph in 1964, around the time that Carroll Shelby developed the big-engined Cobra. Lighter and with a bigger engine than even the V-12 in the Ferrari, the Cobra 427 was fast at 165 mph (as tested by Car & Driver) but the lack of a roof marred its hopes of becoming the speed queen. However, it was very much a supercar, as Shelby proved with the Supersnake, the car behind Bill Cosby’s ’200 m.p.h.’ album. Still, the engine was in the wrong place. At least, according to the modern standard.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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The company that effectively established the modern standard was Lamborghini. Not content with battling Ferrari’s range of 250 models with the 350 GT, Ferruccio wanted something more, something truly astounding. Sure, the 350 GT did stand out but that was merely because it looked weird, not because it was gorgeous. Lamborghini needed something gorgeous and its engineers knew just how to back up the good looks: by making the car mid-engined.

At the time, driver aids consisted of your feet, your hands, and your eyes and ears. If the car snapped, it was up to you to save it and avoid hugging a tree. Ferrari, knowing that its big V-12s were massively powerful, believed that a mid-engined road-car would not only scare off its customers but downright kill them. Lamborghini, on the other hand, didn’t have that many customers and, as such, pressed on regardless, with aeronautical engineering graduate Gian Paolo Dallara acting as chief engineer, working alongside Paolo Stanzani and race-mechanic-turned-development-driver Bob Wallace.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Drivetrain
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The engine sat underneath the rear clamshell, which was hinged at the rear, was a 350 horsepower, oversquare, 60-degree 4.0-liter, Giotto Bizzarrini-designed V-12 mounted in a transverse position to save space. While Matra’s D-Jet shared the same layout being a two-door, two-seat sports car, it wasn’t a supercar although it was probably fast enough for Soviet space pioneer Yuri Gagarin, but I digress.

With styling done by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini, the Miura (Lamborghini’s first model to take its name from the world of fighting bulls) looked like nothing anyone’s ever seen on the road before to the extent that when Wallace and Ferruccio Lamborghini itself showcased one at Monaco in ’66, nobody cared that the Grand Prix was also happening that weekend.

People gathered as Ferruccio revved the V-12 engine in front of the Casino before Wallace was allowed to take the Miura out for a few showcase laps around the Monaco street course.
Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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All that was a preview for the public launch took place a few months later during the 1966 Paris Auto Show. Still, nobody could believe that the Miura was, indeed, a real, tangible automobile but reality soon hit: customers complained that the cabin was poorly insulated and torrid heat from the engine would often make driving unbearable; that is, when the engine didn’t catch fire or when the driver wouldn’t skid off in a ditch due to the car’s poor handling characteristics.

It also didn’t help that the interior ergonomics were not something Lamborghini worried about as you’ll easily notice when looking at the position of the steering in comparison to the seat (which can’t be moved at all) and the pedals. The center console may look dramatic but it too is poorly laid out with knobs and buttons seemingly positioned at random all over it.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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In short, the Miura was not perfect but it was a start. 1968 brought us the Miura S and then, in 1971, the world first tasted the car you see here, the SV or 'Sprinto Veloce'.

The changes made to the SV were plentiful. For starters, it adopted the upgraded rear suspension of the S, all hid underneath bulged arches meant to house the wider 15-inch, low-profile, 60-series tires. Moreover, the interior build quality was further improved and, for the first time ever, a glovebox was offered.

The cheeky ’eye-lashes’ surrounding the headlights disappeared, perhaps because Lamborghini thought they would fly off as the SV sprinted from naught to 60 mph in just 5.8 seconds thanks to an uprated V-12 with new cam timing that made 385 horsepower.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Drivetrain
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Lamborghini Miura SV specifications
Engine 60º V12
Displacement 3.929 cc
Bore x Stroke 82.0x62.0 MM/ 3.23x2.44 Inches
Compression 10.7:1
Output 385 HP @ 7,850 R PM
Torque 295.0 LB-FT @ 5,750 RPM
Top Speed 170 MPH
0 - 60 mph 5.8 seconds

While 1971 was also the year when Lamborghini unveiled the first prototype of the Countach, another Gandini design that effectively followed in the footsteps of 1969’s Alfa Carabo and helped kick off the wedge-shaped revolution, the Miura would reign supreme up until 1973.

The red SV seen here is a 1972 model year car, one of just 147 SVs built by Lamborghini in the model's three-year production run.

Being a ’72 car, it’s one of just 94 examples to feature a split-sump setup and, as if that didn’t make chassis #5036 rare enough, it is one of only 11 RHD Miura SVs out there, albeit one originally specified with the steering wheel on the left.

Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Interior
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The car lived for the first few months of its life in Italy where its original owner probably relished the opportunity of driving around in a Miura fitted with factory A/C and radio, as well as a limited-slip diff to keep the thing on the road. However, the time spent in Europe was but a short one for this Miura as the Australian Lamborghini importer soon acquired it and had it converted to RHD along with another European Miura that were already spoken for since the factory was slow in making RHD Miuras. Nowadays, it is believed that just nine SVs left Sant’Agata Bolognese with the steer on the right-hand side of the dash.

The Miura spent close to three decades in Australia before being imported to Britain in 2010 and come the end of this month you'll be able to bid on it during Silverstone Auction's July 31-August 1 event.
Car for Sale: Amazingly Rare, RHD, 1972 Lamborghini Miura SV Exterior
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"The car currently sits with little over 31,000 miles on the odometer and is, seemingly, more enjoyable to drive than an LHD example as there is more space and also more comfort, allowing for easier use of the close pedal configuration," inside according to Silverstone Auctions Managing Director Nick Whale.

As you’d expect, Miura SVs don’t come cheap but, given the current global situation, this one may sell below the average price of about $1.8-$2 million. Having said that, you could go out and buy five (5) Aventadors for the price of this Miura...

Source: Silverstone Auctions

Michael Fira
Associate Editor and Motorsport Expert - fira@topspeed.com
Mihai Fira started out writing about long-distance racing like the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans. As the years went by, his area of interest grew wider and wider and he ever branched beyond the usual confines of an automotive writer. However, his heart is still close to anything car-related and he's most at home retelling the story of some long-since-forgotten moment from the history of auto racing. He'll also take time to explain why the cars of the '60s and '70s are more fascinating than anything on the road today.  Read More
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