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How I Found my Lamborghini Miura

How I Found my Lamborghini Miura

Posted by Randall Parker on Apr 21st 2020

Back in 1975 I was 13 and living in a suburb of Salt Lake City called Holladay. My father was a piano teacher and my mother taught swimming lessons at the YWCA, which is where I learned to swim, yes it was with a bunch of ladies. At the end of Russell St where I lived there was a gas station and a burger joint. The gas station faced 4500 So, the top of which was the steepest road that I ever tried to skate board down. That failed attempt was also in 1975, still have the skid marks. I walked to school past that gas station almost every day. Every once in a while a red Pantera was parked in the garage bay always next to a yellow Lamborghini. They were the coolest cars that I had ever seen and I could not pronounce their names. I would get my friend and show him the cars when they were there and always wondered what they were.

Scroll forward to January 13th 1992. I just crashed my experimental jet wing aircraft. The throttle was sticky in the winter inversion humidity and 13 deg F frozen air. I was determined to go flying anyway but wanted to do a test taxy first to see if the throttle was going to work. It stuck as soon as I opened it up on the runway and I launched into the air full throttle. I fiddled with the throttle for a few minutes, actually contemplated a bail out tuck and roll scenario before I started to fly the thing. I was getting close to the Wasatch Mountain Range and needed to turn away which I did but turned too sharp and stalled the left wing. I had flown above the bench area, consequently the ground was closer to my altitude. 

Instead of being at 500 feet AGL which is the ceiling for private aircraft because of Salt Lake International’s Terminal Control Area. I was closer to 70 feet AGL. When I turned from the mountain I stalled the left wing and dropped in a left dive strait into the ground. Yup, I had a compression fracture of Lumbar 4 and was considering the Orthopedic Surgeon’s recommendation of a spinal fusion just like Joe Montana’s. Apparently Joe Montana played several years for San Francisco with his lumbar fused. 

I went for the lumbar fusion. While I was laying in the Hospital my father brought me a Road and Track magazine. In that magazine there was an article about the Lamborghini Miura. The second I saw a picture I knew it was the same car I had been walking by in that gas station when I was 13. I was mesmerized by the article’s description of the Miura. “The Miura was a first in so many ways making the mid-engine supercar believable”, “Test driver and engineer Bob Wallace convinced Ferruccio Lamborghini that the company should build racing cars”. “Project P-400 was embraced by Ferruccio as a great one off show car…” So it began. 

The P-400 had 350hp. My 1970 SS Camaro had that. The 400 S came with 370 hp and the advertised top speed was 176mph. That was important because my friend Pratt Cole’s 1989 Ferrari Testarossa had won the Silver State Race in 1990. Ferrari advertised its’ top speed as 176 mph also. Well, Pratt got that Testarossa to 197 mph on the down hill side going into the finish line during that race, got the Nevada Highway Patrol Speeding Ticket issued to prove it. OK, 176 mph advertised top speed is fine. 

All aluminum body work just like an AC Cobra. But what really sealed the deal for me was the 4 x 40 IDL Triple velocity stack weber carburetors. Twelve velocity stacks…Twelve, sitting on top of an all aluminum transverse mounted V-12. AAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!, pant pant gasp! WHAT was THAT like to drive I wondered while I was laying there awaiting my turn with the surgeons.

I started looking around. Good Miura’s were $120K, SV’s added another $30K and SVJ’s were not for sale. I was becoming an expert on the car. I threw Gandini’s name around like he was my personal friend. Which by then I sort of thought he was. I had called Bob Wallace in Tucson looking for advice and engine modifications. Plus most Miuras needed to split the oil sump away from the Transmission. Sharing oil works for motorcycles but not so much for the Miura. 

I wanted to hot rod one up with Venolia pistons and new cam profiles, maybe work the short side radius of the intake ports and step port the exhaust ports. Bob Wallace talked me out of that pretty quick. He said, ”a stock 4.0 liter Lamborghini V-12 will spin to 8000 rpm, how much more do you need than that for a street car”? WELL…, I was used to some power in my Corvettes. Reminding myself that Bob Wallace developed and tested the Miura in Italy I deferred to his expertise and decided to find a stock one and just split the sump.

I found that there were three Miuras in Utah. One red 1968 P-400 owned by Gary in very sorry shape. One white 1968 P-400 owned by Claire Kemp that was at least running but sad. And one owned by Schubak who is a jeweler, never got the privilege of seeing that one. Claire was reluctant to sell and I was reluctant to buy the red one. I started hunting nationally. Fantasy Junction had a 1970 S for $119,500 in San Francisco, white/black interior…eh. No heat from a white Miura, reminded me of Claire’s. I wanted a Giallo Fly Miura S! I found one, totally taken apart in Miami, Florida in March 1992. I was pretty sure there was no automobile that I could not put back together so my father and I flew to Florida, rented a UHAUL, bought it and stuffed it in.

That is me in my back brace after L4 fusion

My father and I spent the next three years working on the Miura in his garage. The V-12 engine has steel sleeves pressed into an aluminum block with the Transmission actually cast into the side. The problem we were facing was the block needed to be heated up to replace the sleeves and there was no kiln in Salt Lake that I could find that was large enough. I had the crank hard chromed and indexed to standard at Crankshaft Specialties in Kentucky. It was art work, mirror finish and less than .0001” runout, that is as straight as you can get a crankshaft I think. 

They had done some Indy car engines’ crank shafts that I knew of. I also knew they had done the Buick Crank Shaft that Little Mickey Chapman of North Salt Lake had put in Arie Luyendyk’s 1993 Indy Car. Arie got the pole that year but spun it into the fence on the warm up lap. Sure showed it was making power at least. A friend of my father found a gentleman in Sand City, California that said he could put the engine together for us. We jumped at the chance. Barry Hartzel of Hartzel Automotive rebuilt that V-12 and had it in the chassis in less than a year. The picture of the engine is from his shop in Sand City. 

1968 P400 I passed on purchasing 

My mother moved my Miura into the snow

The yellow rear springs I got from Phoenix to solve bottoming problem.

My expectations were high when Barry said we could pick up the Miura. We drove it around Monterey California first. It was not very powerful and the transmission was very stiff to shift. I could not shift into third without grinding. It was disappointing. Pop couldn’t drive it very well either. Barry said the engine needed a break in period so we loaded it up and brought it home. We drove it around Alpine Utah, Park City and Salt Lake for the next 10 years. Pop got it up to 160 mph on the Alpine Highway. 

I never had the guts to drive it hard, it was just too delicate and difficult. I drove it to a friend of mine in Bountiful to show it off. While I was heading up on Interstate 215 I went over an overpass that bottomed out the car and put the rear trailing arm into the aluminum clutch cover so hard that it also hit the pressure plate. That needed to be solved. I ordered a set of Yellow stiffer springs from GT Parts in Phoenix for the rear and put them on. Problem solved. I don’t know if the springs were just tired but I replaced them on the coil over Koni’s. 

I learned to shift it without grinding but you needed to be precise to do it and no speed shifting. The other problem was the banjo bolts on the 40 IDL Webers were always coming loose and leaking fuel. I smelled gas one day in front of West High School. I pulled over immediately. Four football players ran over to help me push it into a Crown Burger parking lot where I spent the next couple of hours rebuilding the webers and solving all the gas leaks. I guess that is a recurring problem with the Miura. An SV burnt to the ground in the UK because of it.

I was pretty determined to not let this happen to mine. So I allowed four football players to help me push it instead of taking that chance. The webers leaked from the banjo bolts a couple of times while driving it around. I only put 1,700 kilometers on it in 10 years mainly because of that. You had to check everything before you drove it just like aircraft making it more of an adventure than a country drive every time. I was invited to drive it in the “Tour of Utah” because I had the only running Miura I guess but I didn’t have the guts to do it. 

I figured I would need a couple of fire extinguishers and a rag bucket for the oil leak that I just could not lock down coming from one of the distributor housing mounts. I declined. That is when I realized I was not having fun with the car much. Looking at it and talking about it had become safer and more fun than driving it. That same winter my mother pushed it out of the garage into the snow so she could put her plants in the garage and keep them warm for the winter. I put it up for sale in the spring of 2004 and sold it to Tim Mullins of North Carolina in 2006. He put it back to the original Rossa Corsa and painted the wheels and lower scoop the original gold. I think it looks better. Funny that now in 2019 all I want is to have it back.

Editor: AJ Parker