Only one original Miura Roadster was ever built, and in fact it was merely a prototype by Bertone, it was eventually sold to the ILZRO Zn-75 who replaced as much parts as possible with own materials and painted it green instead of the bright blue Bertone built it in.
As this was a one of a kind Lamborghini prototype that never entered production the option of driving a super car like the Miura without a roof was not available, however multiple owners of a regular Miura went on to customize their car by removing the roof section above the seats, hence creating a Roadster replica of some kind … sometimes called Spider or Spider … depending on which source you read.
In the Seventies and early Eighties the value of a Lamborghini wasn't as high as these days, remember the Miura production was folding and the amazing Countach was taking over the flagship position … as beautiful and sensual a Miura might look today, at that time the Countach blew it completely out of the water with outer space looks and massive performance, remember the Countach LP400 had a top speed of 316 Km/h (196 Mph) … in 1974!
So if you wanted to get noticed in your Miura next to a Countach you had to pull some tricks from your hat … so a 'simple' Miura Roadster might look nice, but Lambo Motors AG in Basel took the concept one step further … why not combine the two best known Miura models into one … a Jota Roadster … now that would draw attention from that Countach …
We received different origins for this specific car, but one thing is sure, this Miura has chassis number 4808, making it production number 598 that received engine number 30583 … but then we have two different stories about it. One makes this the 1971 Geneva Show car, being finished in orange, but a second source states this car was delivered on March 26. 1971 by Foitek … in yellow !? And the plot thickens even further, the first owner, a Mr Huber in Switzerland didn't like the shade and had it repainted in red … a brand new car in the paint booth ?
What we can say with almost certainty is the fact it was sold to Mr Zenari in 1975, a shareholder of Lambo Motors AG, who drove it on a regular basis until early 1979 … when the idea of transforming it was formed, this was a late Miura S-model that was about to receive a Spider conversion taking almost 2 years to complete, we actually received a mail from the original designer of this car, Mr Thomas Degen who worked for Lambo Motors AG at that time, naturally he remembers the car very well.
In September 1980 the Miura Jota Spider was nearly finished, adding a deep front spoiler, removing the roof section (but it still remained functional unlike the original Miura Roadster that didn't even have a roof) and the necessary Jota look alike vents cut into the front hood, two replacing the grilles on top and two large air outlets on the side, just behind the front wheels. To make it look even better additional air extractors behind the rear wheels and broadened 'shoulders' were added, rumor has it the SVJ specific parts were actually supplied by the Lamborghini factory.
Naturally this required substantially more rubber at the back, so deep dish custom wheels were installed with a multi piece look and five spoke design … which required a modified suspension to keep the tire as flat as possible on the road, as an extra bonus the car was riding 40mm lower to the street now.
The bodywork was finished in a new, pearl metallic white paint that perfectly showed all the lines on this aggressive looking Bull … perhaps it was a bit too modern on a Miura for some people, but that didn't keep this very rare car from being sold right on the 1981 Geneva Auto Show exhibit.
Apparently the large rear wing was not installed at first, it is unclear at what point it was added, but photos of the Geneva Auto Show in 1981 do show the wing already, in the end this massive spoiler was nicely integrated into the bodywork … as if it belonged there from the start.
In the Nineties a Swiss based real estate developer owned this rare car, he subsequently had it restored by Ruf in Zurich, known for their radical Porsche conversions … Mr Wicki decided that vast rear wing looked a bit outdated, so he requested to have it removed .. and while at it, the front spoiler was retired too which made this Miura look much more like the SVJ series … only with the additional bonus of a removable roof section.
During the restoration process the Miura was finished in a very appropriate silver metallic over a black and grey leather upholstery making it look well balanced … not too flashy but still very recognizable anyway, and this shade still showed the different add-ons and special design of this Miura SVJ Spider … painting it in black would effectively make it less impressive.
According to our source the car was sold in March 2000 through an auction organized by Bonhams in Geneva, rumor has it the hammer came down at CHF 180,000 (about €135,000) and this Miura went to an American collector, and now history takes some strange turns with the Miura SVJ Spider. Only a year later in 2001 the car was listed by RM Auctions … but it didn't sell and this one of a kind Miura went unseen until it showed up at another auction. Again an auction by Bonhams, but in Monte Carlo this time, where it was listed as the 'Geneva Motor Show 1971 Miura P400 S Jota Spider'. The estimate in the book was €120-150k, but on May 26. 2003 it was sold to a local buyer for €80,000 + fees … who apparently didn't have any intentions of holding on to it as it was once again listed up for auction … in London.
Coys of London listed it as sold in December 2003 for a winning bid of £175,000 … but rumor has it there was no record of such a bid, so was it sold or not … facts are that only a month later this very Miura SVJ Spider showed up in MotorSport magazine … for sale by the owner in Monaco who offered it up for auction at a Bonhams auction … sounds familiar ?
The last our source knew about this silver metallic Lamborghini Miura SVJ Spider was that in July 2004 the car was still for sale in Monaco, being on display in a showroom with a price tag of £285,000 … a steep increase in price after the last time it was sold by Bonhams in Monte Carlo, but it must be said the car looked brand new now … probably a refresh restoration had been executed after it was originally restored in the Nineties.
That same year the car showed up at Autodrome-Cannes, a super car dealer with a massive reputation in Europe, they also sell the Zonda and have been selling rare and unique cars for decades … in early 2006 the Miura SVJ Roadster was on display at the Paris Rétromobile motor show, later that year it would show up at the Festival of Speed in Goodwood, next to just about every different Miura made at Sant'Agata … close to it was the Jota recreation and the SVJ once owned by the Shah of Iran … so it must have felt right at home.
As a side note … the one and only original Bertone built Lamborghini Miura Roadster changed hands for just over one million US Dollar … not bad for a comparably rare Miura model, and it must have set the price for this SVJ Spider as it was also called.
However we managed to get an update on it … at the 2008 edition of SpaItalia in Belgium I personally encountered this specific car in real life … and it wasn't silver anymore. I managed to talk to the French owner of the Miura SVJ Spider and he told me he had the car repainted as he didn't like the silver metallic shade, he felt it wasn't attention grabbing enough for this special car, so he had it finished in a very bright green shade called 'Lime Green' … you can't miss it now on the paddock, that's for sure.
I must admit the car looks really nice with the widened rear section and cut in air outlets, do note that during the initial restoration by Mr Wicki the wheels were also replaced with proper Miura SV wheels, wider at the back naturally, but they look perfectly right for this car. During the SpaItalia event the owner took it onto the track a few times, sometimes with the roof in place (remember this is Belgium … it rains at the most inappropriate moments here) but whenever possible with his hair in the wind … just like this car was intended to be used back in the Eighties … having fun in a Miura with no roof and the sun on your skin … what more could you ask for ?
These days it would be unthinkable to bring your Miura into a workshop and ask them to remove the roof from it, you no longer convert any kind of Miura Spider or Roadster replica anymore, it would only reduce the real value of the car, and if you really want to drive an open-top Lamborghini, you can always buy a Murciélago Roadster, or a Diablo Roadster … at least you will still have a V12 engine howling behind your back … and have a pristine Miura to keep in shape for the future … remember the last time a perfect 1971 Miura SV was sold it fetched $1,700,000 ... that would never have happened if it would have been cut open and converted into a Roadster look alike.
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A special version of the Gallardo LP550-2 destined for the Malaysia market only.
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January 31. 2011
Text © Mark Smeyers
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