Enthusiasts of exotic Italian automobiles everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to Adam Gordon. The New York real estate developer has just completed what is sure to have been an extremely costly restoration of the Lamborghini Bertone Miura Spyder. We say "the" Miura Spyder because it is the only one ever made. In fact its serial number doesn't even show in the company's register.
As we reported when Gordon first acquired the car a year and a half ago, the Miura Spyder was made by Nuccio Bertone and Marcello Gandini as a one-off show car in 1968, when it was unveiled at the Brussels auto salon, much to the amazement of even Ferruccio Lamborghini. The car was then brought back to Sant'Agata where Lamborghini's own people, in consultation with Bertone, deemed it impossible to put into production. The factory then refinished the only existing example in green with all manner of extra chrome bits and sold it to the International lead and Zinc Research Organization, which used it as a showcase piece and brought it to car shows in such locations as Detroit, Montreal, Anaheim, London, Tokyo, Sydney and Paris, before finally donating in 1981 it to the Boston Museum of Transportation in exchange for a $200,000 tax receipt. The car then disappeared largely into obscurity for 25 years as collectors failed – incredibly – to comprehend the value of the only factory-original Miura targa in the world.
Although the Boston museum invested what must have been considerable time and energy into refurbishing the Miura Spyder, it wasn't until Gordon got his hands on it that the car was returned to its original Bertone condition by the Bobileff Motorcar Company. The car's history has been chronicled in a new book, "The Lamborghini Miura Bible" by Joe Sackey. Follow the jump to read the full press release, and click the thumbnails below for a small gallery of images of the Miura Spyder.
Related GalleryLamborghini Bertone Miura Roadster
[Source: Veloce Publishing]
One-off Lamborghini Miura Spyder re-emerges after 40 years!
Exclusive news from Joe Sackey, Miura expert and author of "The Lamborghini Miura Bible" to be published in November 2008 by Veloce Publishing Ltd.
Purely as a design exercise, aimed at keeping demand for Lamborghini's Miura on the crest of a wave, Nuccio Bertone assigned Marcello Gandini a styling project to create a Spyder version of the Miura, commencing in the second half of 1967.
The 'Lamborghini Bertone Miura Roadster,' as it was officially christened, was finished in a light metallic blue with an off-white leather interior with red carpeting. The dashboard and steering remained black, and the steering wheel itself was the original avant-garde unit that was also used on the Marzal. This Miura carried chassis number 3498 (which, in accordance with its one-off prototype status, is not even listed in the factory's original production chassis number register), and P400 engine number 1642 was fitted.
For the January 1968 Salon de L'Automobile Bruxelles, Bertone pulled off another masterstroke when he unveiled this Miura Spyder to a gob-smacked Ferruccio Lamborghini, who, we are told, only saw the show car for the first time at the preview the day before. However, Bertone told Lamborghini to put any ideas of production right out of his mind: "We couldn't make this car for production because there were untold problems with stress-tolerance issues involving the chassis and the windscreen. It's purpose was simply that of a showcar," Bertone confided to a GM stylist years later.
With its Bertone publicity duties completed, the Spyder was sent to Sant'Agata (where it was famously photographed by both Zagari and Coltrin, and it was fettled by the service department with the idea of making it roadworthy to sell as an expensive one-off.
In 1968, International Lead and Zinc Research Organisation (ILZRO) CEO, the late Shrade Radtke, was looking for something radical to showcase the zinc alloys, coating and plating systems the company promoted for the major manufacturers in the Detroit area. It was decided to purchase a standard production Lamborghini Miura Berlinetta and have it specially built using zinc-based components and trim wherever possible.
Onwards then to Sant'Agata, and a meeting with Paolo Stanzani. However, Stanzani was against the idea of modifying a production Miura, and came up with the convenient solution of offering the one-off Miura Roadster, at the time at Sant'Agata for fettling. The offer was accepted on the spot.
In May of 1969, the "ZN75" was completed, now adorned with much extra brightwork and painted metalic green, and Bertone arranged for a private showing at a villa in Turin, attended by the hierachy of the Italian automotive industry. It was a special day, and Bertone, was proudly pictured with the car on that occasion.
There followed a globe-trotting schedule of International Motor Shows -
August 1969 – Shown in Detroit, Michigan
October 1969 – Shown in Montreal, Canada
November 1969 – Shown in Anaheim, California
January 1970 – Shown in Detroit, Michigan
January 1970 – Shown in Montreal, Canada
February 1970 – Shown in London, England and featured on BBC TV
April 1970 – Shown in Palmerton, Pennsylvania
July 1970 – Shown in Tokyo, Japan
August 1970 – Shown in Sydney, Australia
November 1970 – Shown in Paris, France
After a final showing at the 1978 Detroit Motor Show, in February of 1981, Radtke donated the car to the Boston Museum of Transportation for an estimated $200,000 tax deduction. In the mid-1980s, it was refurbished and its interior upholstery replaced.
In 1989, it was purchased by the Portman group, and has spent its life since then shuttling from auction house to temporary owner, likely because its full history and significance is unknown by most. Auctioned off soon thereafter, it spent a number of years in Japanese collection. In 2002 it returned to the USA for a brief sojourn, before finding another home with a Ferrari collector in France.
In December 2006, the priceless Miura Roadster was finally purchased by a New York property developer who, at huge cost, has had the car returned to its original 1968 Salon de L'Automobile Bruxelles specification. The conversion, by the Bobileff Motorcar Company, was completed in late August 2008.