From the July/August 2023 issue of Car and Driver.
It was late in the day when the Miura caught fire. Someone is sitting in it with the engine off and the key in the on position, assuming the car will be happy to keep the V-12 fan running. It also keeps the fuel pump running, so when the car is finally started, the overfilled carb sprays fuel into the hot exhaust manifold. Lots of shouting in Italian ensued as a nearby Lamborghini mechanic started the 20-yard sprint that might qualify them for the Olympic event that involves running with a fire extinguisher.
They put out the budding fire before the damage was done, but after that, the car went into a trailer, never to be seen again. If you ever get to drive eight Lamborghinis in one day, try to get the Miura first.
Miura, Countach, 400GT . . .
The 1973 Miura SV was the star attraction of the fantastic line-up assembled to celebrate Lamborghini’s 60th anniversary. We had to start at the factory in Sant’Agata, drive up the hill, and take turns behind the wheel of important cars from various eras. A bold plan, to be sure. Just between the 400GT, Miura and Countach, there are 36 carbureted cylinders to keep in fine fettle—all while dealing with traffic, rain and roads that might be as wide as 1.1 Aventadors. Besides, the biggest liability of all, the reporter.
Throughout the day, several themes emerged. I learned that throughout Lamborghini’s history, primo console real estate was reserved for ashtrays. The Dogleg’s first cog requires you to constantly mutter “Reverse is where it belongs,” so you can’t get over any flimsy detents defending the top left slot of the shift pattern and find yourself staggering backwards when you meant to smartly avoid the stop sign. And carbureted cars demand that you pump the accelerator hard when starting the starter motor. Apparently, “You’re going to flood it!” not translated into Italian.
Murciélago. . .
I started my day in a delicious 2001 Murciélago, one of 20 cars built with Versace interiors. We set off in the rain, the Murci’s single giant wiper reminding me why most cars don’t have a single giant wiper. In my memory, the car all howled terror, and, as it turns out, memory works well. In its natural environment (South Coast), a Murciélago would probably never get out of first gear.
In the 400GT, I felt like a post-war industrialist on my way to my country house in Siena. The Countach is like driving a Van Halen video. The Gallardo made me feel like an intruder who happened to join the Lamborghini parade in my ex-Vegas rental car financed for 84 months, even though it probably sounded the best of them all in the tunnel. And the Miura is divine, 380 V-12 horses against a claimed 2745 pounds, with skinny tires and no power steering. I drove it fast enough to feel the euphoria, but another number popped up on the affair: $2.5 million, the car’s estimated value. I believe the paperwork I signed said that if I hurt the Miura, the next generation of my family would hang the exhaust on the Urus line until the debt was paid.
Which brings me to the 2001 Diablo SE 6.0, the only car that immediately sent me to Bring a Trailer to see if the price matched the experience (sadly, the answer was mostly yes). The Diablo is truly amazing, especially since it was born from an era when Lamborghini was rushing from one financial disaster to another. It’s very good—all the soul of a Countach combined with modern refinements like a front-axle lift system, adjustable dampers, and power windows. Aside from a handful of Murcis, this is your last chance to get a Lambo V-12 mated to a manual transmission. For a car named after a bull named after Satan, it feels very welcoming, like you want to get in and drive a thousand miles. I’m not sure I’d sell my soul for Diablo, but I sure would.
Ezra Dyer is one Car and Driver senior editor and columnist. He is now based in North Carolina but still remembers how to turn right. He owns a 2009 GEM e4 and once drove 206 mph. Those facts are mutually exclusive.