The Miura in The Italian Job.
Told by the man who actually drove it
“The Paramount people came to Sant’Agata towards the end of May 1968. They wanted to know if we had a battered Miura to sell, one that had been in an accident. What for? For an important film was what they said. And why battered? Because one of the characters in the plot, the actor Rossano Brazzi, is killed in the Gran San Bernardo tunnel as he’s driving through it in his Miura. So that’s not an accident… we don’t like the idea of our cars being associated with accidents. No, no, it’s just a perfect crime! So that’s how films work. So let’s see for ourselves.”
The man telling the tale is Enzo Moruzzi, who at the time was in charge of the Lamborghini sales network that dealt with car allocation. He was responsible for every aspect of distribution, including the loan of cars for films. Although Moruzzi has since retired, he’s in great form and recalls every detail of that encounter and what happened after. In fact it was he who drove the Miura during the filming.
As chance would have it, Lamborghini did actually have a beat-up Miura in the warehouse. It was the brand’s hallmark orangey-red, and though the engine had been removed, it all worked fine. Paramount bought it and asked for the loan of an identical vehicle for the shoot. So Moruzzi headed for the production line, where chassis # 3586 in orange with white interiors was scheduled to be ready for the end of June. Perfect, just what they needed. On 27 June Moruzzi set out to deliver the car to Aosta, where the film crew was based. Being the conscientious man he was, he had replaced the precious white leather seats with two in black, which were less likely to get stained. The only problem was that the headrests, which were fixed units, remained white, which is why in the film you can see that the seats don’t really belong to the headrests. This conundrum later turned out to be an important clue in recognizing the original vehicle.
“When I arrived they told me they wanted me to drive for all the long shots. The actor Rossano Brazzi would only be used for the close-up scenes. On the morning of the 29th the weather was good, and the actors jokingly told me I should demand payment for the scenes where I’m driving! The beat-up car was there. We drove to the entrance of the Tunnel. Then they started working on the scene where it looks as though a bulldozer deliberately hits the car, killing Rossano Brazzi. But that’s the film. I’d done what I was supposed to do, and the next day, which was Sunday, I left to go back home. I was pleased that everything had gone well, and wondered if I would recognize my hands on the steering wheel. When I took my wife to see the film she immediately exclaimed: But those are your hands!. I recall that on the way home I noticed a little church where they were celebrating mass, and I stopped there to offer up my thanks for such a wonderful experience.
That evening I took the car back to the factory, and the next day it was completely checked over and polished so that on 2 July it could be delivered to the Ravenna dealership that had ordered it for a customer in Rome.
Seeing that car again today is something special for me. What wonderful memories!”
Moruzzi is clearly moved, and Fritz Kaiser, the current owner of this precious icon of film history, is amused to hear the story behind the car. Fifty years have gone by, but nothing seems to have changed. In fact The Italian Job is still a cult movie within the wider context of British films, and 50th anniversary celebrations are now happily under way.
Image copyright and courtesy of Paolo Carlini for The Classic Car Trust