The Lamborghini Miura is where it all started-the first production automobile to earn the "supercar" tag. Prior to the Miura's arrival in 1967, many sports cars offered high levels of performance and handling. But the Miura was the first built around the criteria that define our modern concept of the supercar: massive speed, jaw-dropping design coupled with technical innovation, and a wallet-wilting price tag to which only the wealthiest could aspire. It was called "an exercise in automotive art" in Road & Track magazine, April 1970. The 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 on offer is one of the desirable S variants, completed February 10, 1970 (#461 of 765 total Miura production, 338 of which were P400 S models). It is presented in its original and attractive period color scheme of red with a blue interior. This is a very correct, original, low-mileage (23,500) Miura S. It has had a short list of owners, the most recent of whom purchased the car in 1997 in excellent "driver" condition. Over the ensuing years he has methodically and sympathetically upgraded the car using top specialists and with little regard to expense. A spectacular new finish was applied by Bob Barber Paintworks of Stowe, Pennsylvania, while the mechanicals have been freshened by Michael Pechstein of Vintage MotorSports. The interior is new and the car has been thoroughly detailed. This Lamborghini not only "looks the business," but it "ticks all the boxes," and this is a striking and proper example of the breed.

SCM Analysis


This 1971 Lamborghini Miura P400 S sold for $308,000, including buyer’s premium, at RM’s auction in Phoenix, Arizona, on January 16, 2009.

Without doubt, the Miura is a bonafide star of the collector car world. It hits almost all the buttons-beauty, speed, historical importance, and star power. They have always been desirable and consequently were generally well looked after; you rarely if ever see a “beater” Miura. The only thing the model lacks is a racing pedigree, and that small demerit has not held it back, thanks to the overwhelming number of points it has earned everywhere else.

While some questioned the ultimate collectibility of early Lamborghinis, the Miura appreciated early on and as interest in Sant’Agata Bolognese’s other offspring gathered momentum, it was the Miura that led the market rise. As they appreciated, the difference in the values between the “cooking” P400 and the better developed and more powerful S and ultimate SV models grew wider.

Miura success caught company by surprise

The owners who actually wanted to drive their visual masterwork quickly came to appreciate the efforts made by the original buyers of the Miura in carrying out the factory’s development work. To be fair, the success of the Miura caught Lamborghini completely by surprise; if the company had planned to build more than a few dozen, they probably would have built a million. As such, small issues of everyday drivability were not high on the agenda. However, modern technology has provided solutions to many of these problems over the years.

There is a pecking order to Miura values. We have recently seen the P400 regularly sell in the $300k range, the S hovering around $500k, and the rarest SV variant heading for the magic million-dollar mark.

And now, this very nicely presented Miura p400 S finds a new home at $308,000, against a pre-sale estimate of $400k-$450k. What happened? Was it a “victim” of the recession? Has the market for early Lamborghinis cooled, or is it simply that everyone who wanted one now has one? I have recently complained to anyone who will listen (a rapidly dwindling crowd) that I, and my colleagues who write about collector car values, would soon be reduced to sounding like the moronic financial pundits on the evening news. You know, the ones who tell you in earnest tones exactly why the stock market did what it did that day.

I’ve always wondered why, when they say, “Investors sent the Dow down on jitters about…” I never remembered feeling any jitters at all that day. I fear we will end up micro-analyzing every individual sale to see in it evidence of a flood. However, since I am paid the soldi grandi (big bucks) for telling you what I think these sales mean in the context of the market, here goes. Hold your breath. Not much.

There has to be thought given to the old standbys of supply and demand. There have been periods, such as 2002, when more than a dozen Miuras showed up at auctions around the world. Then it slowed in the following years to a relative trickle, only to pick up again in 2008, with about ten or so cars at major sales.

Buyers are being much more selective

One of the realities of the current market is that buyers are being much more selective and more careful with their dollars (or euros, pounds, Swiss Francs, yen, or whatever). The car sold by RM was very nicely done, but not the best on the market.

There were some incorrect details, such as engine air cleaner boxes, which were chromed rather than painted white with decals, and the wheel knockoff spinners, which were painted, instead of nickel-plated. These indicated to me that the work done on this car, while great looking, was not done by people who know the Miura or early Lamborghinis very well. And with the choice of cars on the market, buyers take discounts for shortcuts or inaccuracies.

In addition, personal tastes count for a lot in choosing one of these as well. The color combination of red over blue was original and correct, but not everyone’s cup of tea-for the record, I thought it great. I have no doubt that a similar car prepared to a higher level would bring a higher price in the marketplace. Still, in selling at $308,000, it fits nicely in at the bottom end of the SCM value range, and given the eyeball this 1971 Miura P400 S had and the simple nature of the work needed to bring it up to snuff, this transaction has to be counted as appropriately bought, if not well bought.

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