Automobiles of London

27 October 2010

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Lot 150

1971 Lamborghini Miura SVJ

Sold for £728,000

385 hp, 3,929 cc DOHC transverse V-12 engine, four Weber three-barrel carburettors, five-speed manual transaxle, independent front and rear suspension by coil springs and unequal length wishbones, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98.4"

- One of a limited few Miuras constructed to SVJ specification between 1971-75

- Inspired by the original Jota competition car

- Recently completed two-year Bobileff restoration at a cost of $225,000

- Multiple award-winner

The Miura SVJ “Jota” is appropriately named. There is no “J” in the Italian language and designer Bob Wallace’s competition version of the legendary Miura never existed as a production car. It was his dream. The best-of-the-best Miuras is practically a myth.

The original 1966 Miura was a product of passion and engineering excellence. The designers, Giampaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzini and Bob Wallace, were in their 20s. Dallara and Stanzini were engineers, Wallace an expert Maserati mechanic, and they all admired Colin Chapman’s lightweight unitised construction and Eric Broadley’s mid-engined Lola, which had evolved into the Ford GT 40. Together with designer Marcello Gandini, they designed arguably the first supercar, with its transverse V-12 engine, complex aircraft-quality construction, front and rear clamshells and plain go-to-hell brilliance.

The Miura evolved into the P400S in 1968, a roadster was toyed with (one built), but Wallace had other ideas. He wanted to go racing. The original 1970 Jota model was a one-off test bed to see if a competition car would fit into the FIA’s Appendix J. Wallace reused the powertrain of the Miura with all the upcoming 1971 SV upgrades: the split-sump lubrication systems for the engine and transmission, the chassis was stiffened, the headlight eyebrows disappeared, the rear track was widened and the fenders flared. The rear suspension wishbones were extended 1.5 inches and moved to the top of the frame instead of beneath it, the rear tyres were widened from seven inches to nine inches, and the fenders bulged to cover them.

The inside of a Jota was a complete racing car, following the prototype rules defined by the FIA. One-millimetre thick chrome-moly steel pipes were welded to the ladder chassis, and aluminium sheet skin was riveted over the chassis, making an aluminium semi-monocoque shell. The body was made entirely of aluminium, unlike the production cars where the roof was steel, compression was bumped to 11.5 to 1, the engine generated 440 hp at 8,000 rpm, the whole car weighed only 1784.5 pounds, and it was four inches lower.

The main focus of Wallace’s modifications was to decrease and balance weight. So the Jota had a completely stripped interior, single wiper, Plexiglas windows and fixed headlights. Most of the weight savings came from the use of a light-gauge aluminium alloy called Avional, which was used for the new body, floorpan and front spoiler.

Correct weight balance was achieved by repositioning the fuel tanks in the sills and the spare tyre just behind the engine. This weight reduction and balance would have made the Jota extremely competitive. From the outside, the new Jota was instantly recognisable from its Plexiglas headlights and front splitter used to decrease front lift. New side air vents were fitted and riveted on. The transmission and engine lubricating systems were separated and a dry sump lubrication system installed. Power was transferred to the rear wheels through a close-ratio ZF differential.

The competition Jota was sent on a 20,000-mile driving test and was supposed to be scrapped when the SV was introduced at the Geneva Show in 1971, as Ferruccio Lamborghini had no interest in competition. But it was reportedly sold to millionaire Alfredo Belpone in Brescia, Italy, with its racing specifications intact. To issue an invoice, the company needed a production certificate, and the Jota was given s/n 5084, an SV continuation number. The car was restored at the factory on 2 August, 1972 and dispatched to its new owner, but his joy was short-lived. According to a research document, the car crashed and burned on a closed Autostrada while being tested. The original (and intended to be only) Jota was never rebuilt.

S/N 4892

Soon after Wallace's modifications became known, customers began to request Jota-like options in their orders. Lamborghini obliged and five (or up to seven, depending on the source) Miura SVJs were built. These cars had some interior comforts but kept the purposeful body modifications and engine tuning. They also had suspension, exhaust and brake cooling upgrades. One or two supposedly received dry sump lubrication.

In 1992, Reiichiro Fukuno wrote about s/n 4892 at length in the Japanese-language Car Magazine and spoke of the difficulty of telling original SVJs from subsequently modified cars. In a story translated by Isao Kato, Fukuno reported the factory told him seven real Jotas were built, though countless other Lamborghini enthusiasts believe it was as few as five. Regardless of the exact number, these cars were extremely rare.

According to Fukuno, the first SVJ was s/n 4860, built from a brand new Miura SV for the President of the Lamborghini dealers in Germany, Hubert Hahne. The exterior characteristics of the Jota were replicated as much as possible: air outlets at rear of fenders, racing fuel filler cap and fixed headlights. The powertrain was changed to 447PS, which was the spare engine for the original Jota, s/n 5084. This car was delivered 29th April, 1971 with production certification SVJ.

Fukuno then continues to state that in August 1972, two more SVJs were created from new SV chassis: s/n 5090 and s/n 5100, which had a dry sump engine. The last car was s/n 3781, which was built in Fall 1975, at Hahne’s request. It was based on a 1968 Miura P400 and had unique characteristics, such as wide rear fenders, BBS mags and a wing on the roof. Two more SVs were subsequently modified with SVJ details; they were s/n 4892 and s/n 4990. These two retained the wet sump engine with light additional tuning.

The car offered here, s/n 4892, is recorded as being built as an SV in July 1971, white with a blue interior, and was Bertone body number 636. It was sold new to a Dr. Alcide of Rome. In 1974, a letter was issued by the Lamborghini Factory confirming that ‘P400 "Miura" SV Mod. Jota TELAIO No. 4892’ was built at the factory in 1971. This gives us some indication that the car was uprated to Jota specification in or prior to 1974, although it does not give us absolute confirmation of where the car was uprated – at the factory or, as some reports indicate, by ex-factory employees. At this time it was repainted in red, then imported to Japan by Tomita Automobile Inc. and passed through two owners before Kazuo Takahashi restored it in a two-year, frame-off project in the late 1980s. S/n 4892 returned to Symbolic Motors in La Jolla, California in 2007, from whom it was bought by the current owner.

In May 2007, the car was inspected by Claudi Zampolli (ex-Lamborghini employee and head of Special Projects from 1967-1972), who in a letter confirms that s/n 4892 has all the correct features of the factory modified SV-Jotas and that in his opinion this is indeed one of the factory-modified cars. The owner of 4892 subsequently commissioned a no-expense-spared, ground-up restoration from Gary Bobileff, who has restored many concours award-winning cars for the owner.

S/n 4892’s recent restoration took two years at a cost of $225,000, and the restoration is accompanied by a detailed photographic record. Bobileff found s/n 4892 to be sound and straight with no evidence of accident damage and about six or seven coats of paint. The car has been repainted in Rosso Granada.

Bobileff has restored about 150 Miuras since 1989 and stripped s/n 4892 down to its constituent parts and completely rebuilt it, noting that it was a sound car that drove very well before he started the restoration and appeared to have its original engine.

S/n 4982 was shown at the 2007 Vanderbilt Concours where it received the Vanderbilt Preservation Award. At Le Belle Macchine d'Italia the same year, it was named Best of Show and Best of Marque.

Since its restoration, this Lamborghini Miura has been driven less than 500 miles. It is effectively new and certain to turn heads everywhere, as it always has. Offered from a prominent collection and restored by one of the world’s most renowned Lamborghini experts, this is a very special opportunity to own a piece of the Miura performance legend.


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