With more than 300 cars of every conceivable make and model you could think of, last weekend’s Oak Bay Classic Car Festival was certainly one for the history books.
But as all animals are equal, some are more equal than others. Hiding-but-not-really-hiding in the line of polished chrome and steel was a particularly rare breed of Italian supercar: a neon-green on royal-blue-leather 1968 Lamborghini Miura belonging to Robert Maitland of Oak Bay.
“I’ve only owned this car a few years, but I absolutely love it,” Maitland told the Oak Bay News when he won the 2017 Oak Bay News Hot Wheels Award. “Even people who don’t know what it is turn their heads and look at it because they somehow already know it’s special.”
It’s easy to see why a Miura will stand out in a crowd. Sitting only a couple of inches off the ground, the Bertone-designed low and wide Lambo was the world’s first mid-engined supercar (mid-engined meaning the engine sits behind the front axles and ahead of the rear axles). Its truly revolutionary design however was that the engine also sat sideways, or transaxle – a brilliant engineering idea that Lamborghini’s young engineers (lead engineer was in his early 20s) borrowed from the Mini Cooper, the world’s first transaxle front-wheel-drive car. This also meant there was a significant amount of space saved, as both the engine and transmission assembly sat as one just behind the driver.
Mind you, revolutionary didn’t always mean flawless, and for all her curves and feminine touches (like the “eyelash” headlamps) the Miura was far from being a perfect, or even practical car. The V12’s carburetors spat benzine every now and then on the hot engine, causing fires, and the cramped interior was comfortable for anyone willing to sit nearly completely flat or was under 5’9. And, since the gas tank was now located at the front, when the car ran low on fuel, its front-end would be come light and unpredictable.
Minor drawbacks really, which Maitland’s Miura didn’t seem to suffer from at all.
“It drives very well, and it sounds amazing,” he said.
Even by today’s standards, the Miura is fast. With a top speed of 280 km/h and 0-100 km/h in 6.7 seconds, it dominated speed records upon its release, and set the world stage for super car design.
Between 1966 and 1973, only 764 Miuras were made, all hand-built, and, depending on condition, year, model and originality, can command anywhere from $800,000 to well over $3 million.