As the first supercar that had the engine mounted in the rear-middle and a 2-seat setup, the Miura was a real primer. This setup not only became the model for all the sports- and supercar marques that followed but the Miura was also the fastest road going production car of its time.
It’s no wonder then, that the Miura blasted on the scene with an impact like no supercar had made before. When the Miura P400 Jota development mule was released in 1970, it looked like the Miura would soon hit the racetrack, until an unfortunate combination of circumstances literally crashed that prospect…
From development to racing aspirations
Bob Wallace, Lamborghini’s primary test driver and development engineer, had always wanted to push the supercar marque’s technical limits to the next level. In 1970, Paulo Stanzani (Lamborghini’s general manager) honored Wallace’s wishes, and allowed him to design and develop one single example of the mid-engine P400 Jota.
The official pretext was to test the latest aerodynamic, suspension, and mechanical ideas that circulated in the workplace, but Wallace and his team had higher aspirations: to take the Jota to the racetrack! Hence, the name “Jota” (the letter J in Spanish), for it was the code letter that the FIA (International Automobile Federation) used for their Appendix J regulations.
FIA Homologation vs. Lamborghini production
The FIA offered 2 categories that a production oriented GT car could participate in: Group 3 and 4. However, both homologation requirements were tough, 1000 examples in 12 months for Group 3, and 500 to enter Group 4. When the FIA announced their numbers, Wallace’s Group 3 aspirations were immediately cast away, for a 1000 examples was far above what the factory could ever produce, let alone sell to cover the costs.
Group 4 however, had a homologation requirement that Lamborghini’s factory in theory could meet. However, reality turned out to be far from theory, because Lamborghini never produced more than half of the homologation demands in any of the Miura’s production years. Would Lamborghini have made it, then a Jota-based model would have been able to clean out the competition of Ferrari Chevrolette Corvette’s, Porsche 911 ST’s, and 365 GTB/4C’s racing at the World Sportscar Championship.
Vision, Finance, and bad luck
Lamborghini’s production capacity wasn’t the only bottleneck, however, for founder Feruccio Lamborginhi wasn’t a fan of taking his cars to the track either. Add the fact that the Italian car marque was dealing with poor trading agreements and you’ve got yourself a far too costly project that any racing team would require. So, instead of smoking its competition on the track, the Jota simply became Wallace’s infamous hot rod that he could tune in whatever way he saw fit.
When the Jota was finished in October, Wallace took it for close to 20 thousand kilometers of testing kilometers. Only then, he was sure that everything would work according to his desires. Then, Dr. Alfredo Belponer – president and owner of the racing team Scuderia Brescia Corse – heard that he could add the fastest Miura to date to his collection, so he immediately set out to buy the P400 Jota.
With Belponer waiting in excitement, the Jota was sent to the intermediary dealership InterAuto, located in Brescia, who received it on 12 April 1971. However, Belponer could have waited until infinity, because a mechanic of InterAuto crashed the Jota off the city’s unopened ring road. After barrel rolling into the field next to it, the Jota lit on fire and the engine was the only thing that remained salvageable from the scrapyard.
As expected, Lamborghini didn’t want to build any more examples of the P400 Jota model, but luckily Walter Ronchi (the Jota’s original owner) commissioned 2 employees to build a tribute car. Nicknamed “Millechiodi,” the tribute car got special modifications both to the inside and to the outside appearance to match the original Jota looks. Moreover, even Feruccio acknowledged the Jota’s legendary status, and decided it should inspire the Miura’s next versions after all – the Miura SV/J and the Miura SV/R.
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