Lamborghini Miura Roadster – The Story of the Mythical Bull
Occasionally, a car comes along and completely revolutionises the way things are done; a true contemporary. It’s fair to say the Lamborghini Miura was one of these. The most important example of mid 60’s motoring, the Lamborghini Miura captured the public’s imagination from just a chassis, let alone when clothed by the master, Marcello Gandini. The first mid-engined road car, the Miura had its 3.9 litre V12 mounted transversely right behind the driver’s seat, a layout which instantly propelled the Miura into motoring history, cementing Ferruccio Lamborghini’s name into the automotive vernacular. With Miura’s finding their ways into the garages of Frank Sinatra, Twiggy, Dean Martin and Miles Davis, Lamborghini’s supercar became synonymous with the social elite. The fastest car in the world in 1966, the Miura ushered in the era of the truly exotic, impractical car, conceiving the concept of the supercar. An absolute stunner from every angle, the Miura is considered by many as the prettiest car ever built, lovers of the Miura citing the cars timeless proportions and fierce look; surely Marcello Gandini’s true masterpiece. Over the Miura’s 7 year life, all 764 production Miura’s remained resolutely hardtop, though the same can’t be said for a concept Miura. At the 1968 Brussels Auto Show, Lamborghini unveiled a very special Miura, so under wraps Ferruccio Lamborghini himself didn’t see the car until its official unveiling.
The Lamborghini Miura Roadster war conceived purely as a show car solely aimed at increasing interest in the Miura towards the middle of its life cycle. Despite this, the Miura Roadster struck a chord with the Jetset, and who could blame them? A topless version of the ultimate 60’s supercar? Very few would be able to resist the allure of such a thing; it’s no wonder Sant’Agata even received orders for a production Roadster. To take the roof off his gorgeous Miura, Ferruccio once again turned to the genius of Marcello Gandini, who somehow managed to improve on perfection, penning one of the most breathtaking cars of all time.
Though the Miura Roadster turned out to be too good to be true. In decapitating the Lambo, the chassis had to be drastically altered, as did the body. Erasing the roof from the P400 gave way to countless strengthening problems, Bertone having to significantly reinforce the chassis in order to handle the might of the mid-mounted V12. Apart from the removal of the roof, the body of the Miura was significantly altered. The windscreen raked and all other glass removed, the door mounted air intakes enlarged and built in boot spoiler lengthened, along with a complete restyling of the Miura’s Kamm tail. After its debut at the Brussels Auto Show, Bertone pressed upon Ferruccio Lamborghini the near impossibility of putting the Roadster into production due to its problems with stress tolerances. Instead, the one off was returned to Sant’Agata where it was tuned with the hopes of being sold for road use; which it eventually was.
Later that year, the Miura Roadster was sold to the International Lead and Zinc Research Organisation (ILZRO), a company looking for a rolling showpiece for their metals. ILZRO purchased the Roadster in late 1968 and began heavily customising the supercar, repainting the body in an olive green and replacing every possible part of the car with the companies Zinc trim pieces. Significantly changing the look of the car, the Miura’s bumpers, wheel archers and bonnet vents were among the many parts replaced with zinc reproductions. The Miura Roadster’s engine wasn’t without overhaul either; the exhaust, carburettor covers, radiator, oil pump and even the carburettors themselves were replaced with zinc castings. Tied together with a pair of art deco style corrugated zinc skirts and a set of zinc plated Miura wheels, the ZN75’s exterior beared very little resemblance to the Brussels Motor Show Miura Roadster, instead striking forward with a contemporary, post-modernist look well ahead of the late 60’s.
The Miura’s interior wasn’t spared modifications either. Reupholstered in tan leather, zinc bezels were fitted to the clock faces and the Marzal steering wheel replaced with a zinc version of a standard Miura wheel. Far from a ramshackle modification, both Lamborghini and Nuccio Bertone oversaw the Miura’s restyling, meaning the Zn75, as ILZRO rechristened the modified car, is technically an official Bertone design. ILZRO dubbed the Zn75 an “Ideas Car”, sending the converted Miura Roadster on a world tour where it spent time at motor shows in the US, Japan, Australia, the UK and Canada. The transformation of the Miura Bertone Concept Roadster, as it was officially named, masqueraded the car under a new identity, propelling the car into mystery. Much conjecture followed over the fate of the Miura Roadster, many unsure what happened to it, unaware the Zn75, a car many discarded as just a chopped up Miura, was the Bertone Miura Roadster itself.
After outliving its purpose as a showcar, the Zn75 was converted to road use and driven by the CEO of ILZRO around Connecticut, which must have been quite the sight and quite the sound. Being seldom driven during the Roadster’s stint as the Zn75, the car later passed through the hands of several collectors, spending time in France and Japan before settling in New York in 2006 where it underwent a full restoration.
Of course, restoring the Zn75 to original spec was no mean feat, taking two years to transform the car back to its 1968 Brussels Auto Show spec. Though undertaking the restoration at all wasn’t an act to be taken lightly. Whilst the Miura Roadster was born under its original spec, as the Zn75 it created automotive history, some arguing the car to be much more important as the Zn75 than in its original condition. In restoring the car, the existence of the Zn75 was wiped. A bittersweet restoration, the Miura Roadster’s faithful rebuild was completed in 2008, the finished car debuting the Pebble Beach Concourse d’Elegance.