Lamborghini Jota - The Short Bright Life Of The Ultimate Miura
The Lamborghini Miura was the world's first true mass-production, mid-engine super car when it was introduced for 1966. It was a striking blend, offering the styling and mechanical configuration of the era's wildest, all-out endurance-racing machines, all rolled into a package that was reasonably streetable.
But for all the Miura's obvious race-car underpinnings, Lamborghini never fielded a competition version of the car. Of course, it wasn't that the idea of putting its pioneering exotic on the track hadn't occurred to anyone. Plenty of people within the company hoped they'd eventually be called on to prepare a Miura for such use.
Foremost among those competition proponents was Lamborghini's chief development driver Bob Wallace. From the beginning, he'd been championing the idea. But resources within Lamborghini were chronically limited in those early days -- the former tractor manufacturer had built its first production automobile just three years before the Miura's introduction.
Throughout the Miura's production run, Wallace played with the idea of a racing version. In 1970, this culminated in the Jota, a company-funded, one-off "toy" he built in the Lamborghini shop. The car differed from stock Miuras most obviously in styling revisions that included broader fenders, a prominent front spoiler, air vents behind the front wheel wells, and fixed instead of pop-up headlights.
Beneath the surface were even more extensive changes to the basic Miura design. The interior was completely stripped, and the floor was made of aluminum instead of steel. What's more, the suspension was modified to accommodate wide wheels and tires, the front-mounted fuel tank was replaced by a tank in each door sill, and the engine got extensive modifications that increased output of the Miura S's engine by 48 hp, to 418.
Adding it all up, the Jota was obviously a thrilling car, and it stirred the imagination as to what was possible with the basic Miura components. But Wallace knew all along it would be a waste of time to argue that the cash-strapped manufacturer should go racing with it.
Soon after the only Jota was built, Lamborghini put the car up for sale. The floundering automaker simply couldn't afford to have assets tied up in what was considered an esoteric experiment. According to Wallace, the Jota was purchased by a rich industrialist in Brescia.
Shortly thereafter, the wealthy owner's mechanic destroyed the car in a fiery crash. And thus in one quick flash ended the short, bright life of the ultimate Miura.
Fortunately, super-car fans can draw some consolation from the fact that the Jota legend was perpetuated in a number of Miura-based replicas -- several of which were reportedly built by Lamborghini itself at the request of customers.
About the Author: David Bellm is a seasoned test driver and automotive historian. His work has been featured in a wide variety of online and print publications.