“The Italian Job” Miura discovered after 50 years
Lamborghini has certified that the Kaiser Collection’s P400 is the car from the famous film.
In the classic car world, it’s hard to imagine a more sensational piece of breaking news.
We are talking about something that has taken almost 50 years to track down (49 years and 11 months to be precise); but now, at last, we have the chassis number of the 1969 “Italian Job” Miura: #3586.
This whole story began on June 2, 1969, the date on which Paramount Pictures released its film The Italian Job. The comedy was immediately a huge hit, and its status has only grown over the following 50 years. It is now considered one of the most iconic “car movies” ever made, as well as the 27th best British movie of all time.
Minis are the main stars of The Italian Job, but of all the cars featured in the film, the most admired and dreamt-about is undoubtedly the orange Lamborghini P400 Miura driven by Rossano Brazzi in the four-minute opening sequence as he sets off from the Dardanelli Viaduct, and climbs Italy’s renowned Gran San Bernardo road.
During the scene, the reverberating sound of the transverse, rear-mounted four-liter V12 engine, built in Sant’Agata Bolognese, is masked, just, by the voice of Matt Monro, singing the Quincy Jones song “On Days Like These”, which has since become the car community’s theme tune.
“I dreamt of having that car in the Kaiser Collection for a long time. Exactly the one used in the film,” says Fritz Kaiser, creator of The Classic Car Trust, “and when I was able to get the testimony of the protagonists and see the production documents, I knew we were on the right track. Then there was the invaluable support provided by the Polo Storico Lamborghini, which subjected the car to meticulous tests and which is now carrying out a perfect restoration.”
The Miura does not survive in the film because of an accident, but in real life it was returned to the factory in perfect condition. However, the fate and, more important still, the identity of the Miura driven by Brazzi in the movie remained a mystery…until now!
Memories of the filming
“Paramount had approached Lamborghini asking for a Miura to use in the film,” says Enzo Moruzzi, the Lamborghini man entrusted with delivering the car to the production company. “They also wanted a similar-looking one damaged beyond repair. There were two damaged cars available at the time, one a left-hand drive and the other a right-hand drive model. They chose to buy the orange, left-hand drive car for the scene that would see it sent tumbling into the ravine after the accident in the tunnel. For the famous scenes on the road, it was decided to use an orange Miura P400, a left-hand drive with white interiors, which was almost ready to roll off the production line.” The car was new and it was stipulated that it must be returned to Sant’Agata in exactly the same condition as when it left.
Enzo Moruzzi, the man in charge of deliveries in Sant’Agata, was responsible for managing this loan. As a precaution, he removed the original seats and replaced them with two black ones that had previously been used during testing. However, the Miura is equipped with small headrests that are attached to the car’s body and positioned over the seats. These could not be replaced and therefore remained white. “That’s why, if you look carefully, you can clearly see in the movie that even though the seats are black, the headrests are white,” Moruzzi adds. Once the filming was over, the seats were swapped back to the original white ones and the car was returned to Sant’Agata, after which it was delivered to its new owner, SAIN, a company in Rome that was totally unaware of this pre-delivery tour.
Thereafter, the Miura lived the typical life of a supercar, changing hands a further five times in Italy before moving abroad. During this time, it remained mostly untouched (at one point, it was repainted in the correct color) and the interiors were kept entirely original. In the meantime, Lamborghini collectors around the world embarked on a quest to identify the car that had appeared in the movie, and even though #3586 was the focus of some attention in 2013-2014, being one of three potential candidates, there was not enough evidence to confirm its identity, until now.
The discovery on the 50th anniversary
The car was subsequently sold in France and then in England, before entering the Kaiser Collection in Vaduz, Lichtenstein, in 2018. Having taken delivery of the car, the new owner decided to send it back to Sant’Agata Bolognese to have it inspected by Lamborghini Polo Storico, the Lamborghini department responsible for managing the firm’s heritage, including its archive. After comparing the car, finally available for a closer inspection, with the notes and the documents listed in the archive, and dismantling some of its parts, Lamborghini Polo Storico was ready to communicate the results of its study. It confirmed and certified that the 1968 Miura P400 chassis #3586 is the very car used in the filming of The Italian Job.
Amazingly, this discovery came just a few weeks before the 50th anniversary of the release of the picture. Maybe, as a character in the movie says during preparations for the great escape, timing is really everything…
Image copyright and courtesy of Lamborghini (Media Center)