Our non-matador from Singapore visited a famous fighting-bull farm in Spain together with a fabulous bunch of Lamborghini supercars.
JUST over 50 years ago, an Italian company better known for building tractors than automobiles stunned the world with a radical supercar. Named after Spain’s most renowned fighting bull breeder, the Miura may have been Lamborghini’s first attempt at a sports car, but when it was launched to an awe-struck world in 1966, it rocked the establishment.
One of the earliest creations of design maestro Marcello Gandini, the Miura was an extraordinary thing – unbelievably lithe and low, and using a hitherto unheardof layout for a road car.
Its mid-engine two-seater format had till then been the preserve of endurance racecars, but following the Miura’s lead, the format quickly became the template layout for every serious supercar, even to this day.
The 12-cylinder, 3.9-litre Miura instantly catapulted Lamborghini into the ranks of exotic sports car marques, transforming the brand’s reputation from that of tractor-maker and fledgling manufacturer of luxury coupes (the first Lamborghini-branded car was the 350GT grand tourer of 1963) into that of true-blue supercar builder.
And the unforgettable opening scene of The Italian Job (the 1969 original, not the 2003 remake), where an orange Miura twirled its way through the Italian alps to the strains of Matt Monro’s On Days Like These, only added to the car’s fame and mystique – never mind that the scene culminated with the Miura meeting a fiery end in a tunnel.
In the ensuing decades, Lamborghini followed up with other, equally groundbreaking supercars – Countach, Diablo, Murcielago and Aventador – but the iconic, impossibly beautiful Miura will always be the one that started it all.
Which is why one morning in December, I found myself standing in a muddy ranch in the remote, wind-swept Andalusian countryside.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of its greatestever model, Lamborghini had organised a pilgrimage of sorts for a handful of international journalists to the place that lent its name to the car – the legendary Miura bull farm, where for 150 years, successive generations of the Miura family have bred many of Spain’s greatest and most famous fighting bulls.
The day before, we had set off from Madrid on an epic drive in a psychedelic convoy – six cars representing most of Lamborghini’s current range, from the 580bhp Huracan LP580-2 to the fire-breathing 750bhp Aventador Superveloce (SV).
Covering a mixture of high-speed highways which allowed us to savour the cars’ ballistic straight-line pace and meandering backroads which showcased their racecar-like agility and acceleration, we made short work of the 600-kilometre drive to the town of Carmona, our overnight stop before our visit the next morning to the Miura farm.
However, we had no t come to admire the century-old farmhouses or gawk at the imposing bulls glaring menacingly at us fr om their pens.
– it was a
run in the
ANOTHER BUCKET-LIST MOMENT WAS TO FOLLOW, BECAUSE I STEPPED OUT OF THE MIURA SV STRAIGHT INTO THE AVENTADOR SV.
WE HAD NOT COME TO GAWK AT THE BULLS GLARING MENACINGLY AT US FROM THEIR PENS.
Sitting quietly in one of the inner compounds was the surreal sight of an immaculate yellow Miura SV, the last and most potent version of the Miura, plucked from Lamborghini’s museum at its Sant’Agata Bolognese headquarters.
And even more unbelievably, I was then handed the keys and told to take it for a spin.
Which I gladly did, punting this pristine, priceless museum piece around the sweeping, undulating roads of the surrounding countryside.
Certainly, the Miura felt nothing like a modern supercar – its unassisted steering was fairly low-geared and heavy, and the 5-speed gearchange was slow and demanded a firm, positive hand. The non-adjustable steering wheel was an uncomfortable stretch away for anyone not endowed with orangutan arms.
But coupled with a kerb weight of not much over a tonne, the car’s 385bhp and 399Nm delivered urgent acceleration on par with, say, a quick latter-day hot hatch. However, no hot hatch (or anything else for that matter) could have matched the Miura’s exhilarating soundtrack at maximum attack as its 3929cc V12 engine rasped and howled towards its 7850rpm redline.
Half a century ago, when the average family saloon could barely wheeze its way to 100km/h in 20 seconds, noise and performance like this must have been mind-blowing.
Driving such a gorgeous, valuable and iconic car through the rolling landscape, caressing the thin Bakelite wheel, carefully rev-matching on downchanges and listening to the snorting, bellowing engine as the car flowed along, must surely be on every petrolhead’s bucket list.
But another bucket-list moment was to follow, because I stepped out of the Miura SV straight into the Aventador SV, mine to drive for the next few hours.
Away I headed, through some deserted roads diving and ducking through the hills, daring myself (unsuccessfully) to explore the supercar’s ridiculously high roadholding limits, and running up through the gears and down again for the wanton thrill of hearing that naturally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 howl and crackle, and to feel its warp-speed thrust.
Through sleepy hilltop villages, I slowed to a trundle to avoid upsetting the locals. Not that there was any danger of that – kids waved, youths and adults whipped out smartphones, and twice people even hopped into their beat-up hatchbacks to try and follow me.
With almost 10 times the horsepower and a century sprint time of 2.8 seconds, the Aventador easily left them in its noisy and glorious wake.
To drive Lamborghini’s first supercar and then its latest back to back was to experience first-hand how far the company has come in half a century, and also how it has held true to its philosophy.
The gulf between the cars is vast, of course, with the Aventador simply on another planet to the Miura in every objective aspect – acceleration, handling, braking, safety and even user-friendliness. But in so many ways – their mid-engine layout, howling V12 motors, visual drama and the sheer buzz they give the driver – the kinship is also clear.
The Miura may be 50 years old, but its spirit and influence live on in every Lamborghini today.
a visit to
and six other
along on the
Driving a Lambo Miura was a cardream come true for the author.
UNBELIEVABLY, I WAS HANDED THE MIURA KEYS AND TOLD TO TAKE THE PRISTINE, PRICELESS MUSEUM PIECE FOR A SPIN.