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32 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Joe Sackey

Part I

With the 40th anniversay of the Miura (and the next Miura Reunion) fast approaching, this seems like a good time to put into perpective the most relevant details of the production of the Miura's Swan Song, the SV. This would naturally cover SVs converted or modified by the works into SVs with some Jota features (SVJs).

Of late, many questions have been asked about the subject, as the values of the cars increase and their collectibility becomes more apparent. For the benefit of the uninitiated and the experienced alike, it is thought that it would be beneficial to address SV production without the use of imagination or embellishment, but simply based on what is actually knowm. There is little doubt that is the most frequently visited Lamborghini site worldwide, by enthusiasts & owners alike, so what better venue to set the record straight than right here?

* Any production numbers given are "guides", as record keeping was of the lowest priority in the period, was often inaccurate, and has since been compromised and in some cases 'misplaced'. One asset though, is the original factory Miura SV production register of 1974, hand-typed by Ingrid Pussich in Italian and given by her to a visiting SV owner from the USA in 1975. Thankfully, it survives in our possesion and is invaluable for coroborrating facts.

* According to an original press release by factory PR cheif Etienne Cornil dated March 22nd, 1971, the new Miura SV would cost $13,000 (to the distributor), and would have the following options:
- Air Conditioning $555
- Special metallic colors $238
- Safety belts $68
- Wing mirrors $47
- Set of suitcases $241
- Right hand drive $565
- Stereo tape recorder $158 (Blaupunkt Colonia, Voxon Sonar, Autobecker) - Purists, take note!
- Leather interior no extra cost (it had been a $285 option with the P400S)
- Split sump no extra cost (after October 1971/chassis 4960 it was standard)

Naturally, the factory would further customise any car to suit their order, and this usually involved cosmetic modifications of one sort or another. Whilst this made these 'modified' cars unique or interesting, in recent times there seems to be a desire amongst collectors for an SV that is pure and unadorned, without any Jota or custom modifications. Undoubtedly, split sump SVs fitted with A/C are most desired by collectors (although the A/C unit is rarely actually utilised!). Every SV is different in its own way with minor differences seen amongst all the production cars.

* 148 production Miura SVs were built if you count assigned production numbers. 4 of these are known to be rebuilt from a P400 or P400S chassis on the SV production line, featuring pre-SV chassis numbers. 5 of the 148 SVs were converted or modified by the works into "SVs with Jota features", therefore referred to as SVJs. Essentially, 139 cars were built from scratch as SVs by the works and thus delivered. Those are the pure SV production cars that exist today as originally intended.

* The first 52 SVs had the old shared lubrication system for gearbox/transmission. The latter 96 have the desired split sump system seperating lubrication. The split sump cars are thought to be much better and even command a premium over single sump cars. However, for most drivers, any immediate short-term benefits are non-existent as the split sump serves only to enhance the long-term reliability of the engine and does not offer a performance or horsepower benefit. Two production cars are thought to have had dry sump lubrication installed by the works (4878 & 5100), though definitive documentation that proves that this was done at the point of production is yet to manifest itself.

* 21 cars were built to USA specification with 20 of these were supplied via the USA concessionaire, Modena Racing Car Co. based in New York and one was a personal import. These cars featured some smog equipment and side marker lights on all 4 fenders - not popular with purists. As supplied, the front turn signal lenses were solid amber/orange and the rear turn signal lenses were red (rather than amber/orange as per the rest of the world).

* At least 5 Miuras were converted or modified by the works into the aforementioned SVJs during SV production (4934, 4990, 5100, 5090, 4860). Although it has been claimed that just 4 SVJs were built during this period, that assertion is made by an individual who beleives that Miura production ended in January 1973 (for reasons one can only presume). This claim is simply incorrect, as SV production did not slowly come to an end till October 1973, clearly proving also that the 5th and final SVJ (4860, April 1973) was completed within the production period. This last SVJ had earlier been delivered as an SV then returned for the Jota treatment towards the end of Miura production, but that fact hardly takes away from its true works-built provenance (any suggestion otherwise is simply splitting hairs...), and it carries the uniqueness of being the very last SVJ built during Miura production. It is worth noting that there is in fact a 6th SVJ (4892), carrying factory issued documentation that clarifies its works SVJ conversion/modification within the period. Just because a copy of this document does not appear neatly filed away in the factory's archives today, does not mean this is not a period works-built SVJ. Per the proviso as stated above, the factory's records are far from definitive... How many period SVJs were actually made by the works? will always be safe to say that "at least 5" SVJs were produced not only because this has become accepted by all that are knowlegeable with the subject, but, because this is already proven correct.

* No matter what SVJ mythology will have you believe: SVJs basically have standard SV mechanicals. The bolting-on of straight-through exhaust pipes, or the addition of an extra fuel pump does not alter the car's basic mechanical specification, and it certainly does not enhance performance. Of course, the SVJs would have been better fettled (than a production SV) and mildly tuned before they left the factory, but the basic mechanical specification was the same as that of a late SV. Close inspection of 2 SVJs in recent times (4934 & 5090) revealed them to be, in all practicality, identical to each other in mechanical specification, and the same as a wet sump SV. Recent road tests on both the above-mentioned cars showed no more performance than that of a normal SV, with normal Miura 'maladies' apparent in both cars. The SVJ is essentially a cosmetically-modfied SV, done by the works. Even then, some of the cosmetics such as the brake vents are 'dummies', completely without proper ducting!

One SVJ (5100) is claimed to have had a dry sump oiling system set up by the works from new, a device that would be of benefit to the driver only if the car was used on the racetrack regularly (unlikely) and offers no performance enhancement on the street whatsoever. It should be noted that no period factory paperwork that definitively proves that the system was installed at the very point of production has ever been produced, and, just as in the case of most Jota-modified SVs, it is more likely that the system was installed post-production. Again, basic performance would be the same as that of any Miura SV that operates with a dry sump system.

* In determining the original specification of Miura SVs and SVJs alike, one cannot rely upon the records of the coachbuilder (Bertone), or those of the factory itself. This is because, the factory often modified the car upon receiving it from Bertone prior to delivery, and the modifications were often not recorded as an addendum to the paperwork. Also, on occaision the build sheet had specifications noted that were in fact not delivered. For example, SVJ 4934's build sheet (which recently surfaced after being curiously unobtainum for 7-odd years!) claims that the car was delivered with TAG Heuer Rally stopwatches. Close inspection of this allegedly original car when it lived in California revealed that these were not present on the supplied car, but, an original radio and affixed roof aerial were installed instead (photographed as such, pre-delivery at Sant Agata winter 1971/72). The fancifully claimed "snow tires" were not supplied either - as photographic evidence from the period, and the very original tires that actually came off the car for the first time since new prove beyond any doubt! Lesson learned: Just because the original factory build sheet shows intent to supply a particular specification or component doesnt mean it actually happened! This has been proven to be the case with at least a handful of cars, although this was the exception rather than the rule. The simple explanation here is one of economics, and anyone taking the trouble to read this piece will know exactly what happened in the period (early 70s), what with union strikes, cash-flow problems, the oil crises & the increasing regulation of the USA market. Things were not the way they were supposed to be in Italy at the period!

32 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Part II

* Production numbers & chassis numbers for the Miura SV do not follow a nice orderly sequence as might be the case with other car manufacturers. Again, economics as explained above was the reason. However something that becomes apparent with the later cars is the sequence of engine numbers that follows delivery dates on a fairly consistent basis. Yet again, economics mandated that the next engine off the 'line of engines got 'pulled' and installed when the car was ready for delivery (read: paid for), thus creating a situation where the highest engine numbers correspond with the latest delivery dates. This fact is also useful in affirming the fact that the 5 production SVs listed on the works register as being built in 1973, were in fact the last cars off the 'line in the sequence below. Note the engine number sequence:
5110 - Jan 15 1973 - 30756
5092 - Jan 20 1973 - 30667 (a 'rebuilt' car using its 1971 engine)
5108 - Apr 19 1973 - 30757
4826 - Sep 05 1973 - 30758
4822 - Oct 12 1973 - 30759
This proves the above mentioned obsevation based on the system the works had at the time. This apparent procedure of 'the later the engine number the later the delivery date' is not an absolute rule throughout SV production, but holds true for most standard production cars.

* Miura SV production ran from March 1971 to October 1973. The last car built was previously thought to be 5110 as initially incorrectly reported (and often erroneously repeated in various publications) by a French journalist. However, in recent times, with the help of the factory's own production register, and other corroborating records, it has come to light and been clearly established that this SV is in fact not the last car. The works' own records, show that 4 more cars were made after 5110 in 1973. The final Miura SV off the 'line in 1973 was the RHD 4822, completed October 12th, 1973, bringing to an end the production of a truly special sportscar.

* The Lamborghini factory as it existed in the 1970s collaborated with owners trying to evade import taxes on their new SVs. How was this done? By changing the car's identification and giving it that of an older car so it could be imported as a "used" vehicle, thereby avoiding new car taxes! In fact the practice was not uncommon in the period and several Miura SVs had this process of an identity change bestowed upon them, by the works themselves. Economics again probably dictated this action as it naturally facilitated an extra sale or two, but, we can now see why records emanating from Sant Agata in the period need independent corroboration and cannot be taken as gospel. If the works themselves were prepared to compromise their own records, how can anything issued in that period be taken as definitive? A common challenge for historians of the era, and the exact reason why true production numbers will never be established beyond any doubt, hence the caveat at the begining of this factfile.

32 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The Miura Market

This is a topical subject as ever greater interest is being shown by collectors and enthusiasts in the Lamborghini Miura, but asking prices, auction prices and even price guides vary alarmingly and it’s hard for the average punter to know where the real market for these cars lies.

From a professional and personal point of view I follow it very closely, and here’s what I have found to be the current trends.

There are a good deal of new buyers coming into the market for Miuras, doubtlessly helped by the motoring press’s current enthusiasm for the model and its eligibility for an increasing number of historic events, not to mention the recent surge in the values of contemporary Ferraris, especially the two and four cam 275GTB. Some of these have almost doubled in three of four years, and yet as cars they are arguably less historically significant than the Miura, less attractive (although that’s very subjective and I personally love both) and certainly less exciting to drive. If you consider that a ‘humble’ short nose two cam, in steel with three carbs, is today trading for at least $250,000, with the best alloy bodied, 6 carb two cams and four cams fetching well over $500,000, then even at current levels Miuras still look good value, especially the early P400 and ‘S’ models.

As a guide, the P400 starts here in Europe at around Eu.70,000 for a scruffy car in driving condition, with good cars fetching more than Eu.100,000 and concours winners (which are few and far between) possibly rather more. The ‘S’, which is not as rare as most books would have you believe (recent factory figures suggest 275 P400s, 338 Ss and 150 SVs), does not carry a significant premium over a P400 although late cars with vented discs and ideally air conditioning can break the Eu.150,000 barrier if in really good condition. Again, not many really exceptional examples come to the market, as they have only recently become worth restoring properly again (after the brief 1980s boom).

SVs are the model which most new clients request. In most cases this is not because they have driven all and prefer the SV: it’s because they like the look and have read that this is the model to have. Not to take anything away from the SV, but the P400 and S, which have comparable power and weigh less, look very good value today compared to the SV. True, the SV handles better, and the styling is more aggressive, but novice buyers should consider that they could buy a P400 or an S and still have change for a Ghibli Spyder for the price of an SV. Worth bearing in mind...

Which brings me to SV prices. These cars have been much in demand over the past couple of years, and prices have moved from around Eu.150,000 two years ago to closer to Eu.250,000 today. That’s for a standard car in regular condition: nice but not concours and with no immediate needs. Late cars with ‘5’ series chassis numbers and split sump lubrication command a premium, and air conditioning appeals to US buyers in particular even though its efficiency is questionable. Unusual colours, once painted over by owners in favour of ‘retail red’, have come back into fashion and gold, brown and hues of burgundy, green and blue are very much in demand, but only if original. A non original colour scheme may hinder a car’s saleability. Likewise, good original cars are finding favour over those restored to trailer queen standard, although the latter still appeal to a certain type of clientele. Three SVs have sold in the past two months here in Europe for between Eu.220,000 and Eu.250,000, and one with a unique history is currently being offered at Eu.330,000. In the US, a broker is shopping a restoration project SV at $275,000 (attractive to Euro based buyers) whilst a restorer has on offer two SVs, a late, two owner example at $365,000 in a period marrone shade and a totally restored earlier SV at $425,000...

The SVJ market has experienced a few ripples recently, but none of the original cars have changed hands, and the one-off Miura Roadster was sold back to Europe (but, yet again, to another dealer) and is soon to be offered on the market for “a veree ‘igh prize”. It has more Air Miles than odometer miles!

Last but not least, several cars are being offered as SVs although their chassis numbers correspond to earlier models. They may well be bona fide SVs, but buyers should remember that as the market becomes increasingly crazed about ‘matching numbers’ and ‘no stories’ histories, these cars will take longer to shift when their new owners eventually decide to part with them.

Future predictions? It’s good to see these cars being appreciated, with proper maintenance and the attention of serious collectors, but I hope we don’t end up in a world where they become too valuable to be driven as their maker intended. I think that values will remain strong across the board, but with buyers increasingly fussy about ‘which car’ rather than ‘what price’.
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