Valentino Balboni understands the world’s love for the Lamborghini Miura. Intimately.
“The Miura was both my first and my favorite,” said Balboni, a longtime test driver at Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. who started there as a mechanic in 1968. “You never forget your first love.”
Balboni was a guest at the Lamborghini display during the 2016 Amelia Island (Fla.) Concours d’Elegance, speaking to enthusiasts about his 40-year career with the Italian automaker. It was no coincidence that the pre-production 1971 Miura SV shown at the ’71 Geneva International Motor Show was parked nearby. Lamborghini PoloStorico recently finished a year-long restoration of mid-engine Super Veloce, chassis No. 4846.
“The experience of driving a Miura is difficult to put into words,” Balboni said. “It’s a huge feeling to have the [V-12] engine behind your ears. It is one complete unit – car and driver work in sync. It’s so precise. You feel like you are part of the car.”
Lamborghini is celebrating the Miura’s 50th anniversary, which went into production in 1966. The last of 764 that were built (150 of which were SVs) left the automaker’s Sant’Agata Bolognese facility in 1973.
Lamborghini PoloStorico officially opened in spring 2015, supporting historic models and Lamborghini heritage by focusing on restoration, archive management, original spare parts and official certification.
Restoration of the 1971 Miura SV show car involved exhaustive research and one goal: make the car perfect. Shown in Verde Metallizata (metallic green) with tan leather, the restoration included a complete overhaul of the chassis and engine. Using photos and other archived historic documentation, every panel on the Miura was returned to its original lines and angles and, following the original production sheet and records held by Automobili Lamborghini, every component was restored or replaced. Expert craftsmanship and original Lamborghini parts have been used throughout.
“This is a very important car, not only for its place in history as the Geneva show car and the forerunner of future Miura SV models built, but as the first completed project of Lamborghini PoloStorico,” Enrico Maffeo, Head of PoloStorico, said in a press release. “We are delighted to be able, with the consent of the owner, to show this car for the first time in its perfectly restored state.”
Balboni, who officially retired in 2008 but continued to work as a consultant for six years, offered a thumbs up when asked if company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini would approve of the restoration. He said Lamborghini, who died in 1993, was meticulous and appreciated others who cared for their work as much as he did.
“He was very motivating; he had charisma,” Balboni said. “He made you feel like an important part of the company. We all loved the work. We didn’t want to leave at night, and we couldn’t wait to get back to work in the morning.”
The opportunity to fine-tune and drive Miura-series cars was the highlight, Balboni repeated.
“Driving a Miura is very fun, once you know how to work everything,” he said with a smile. “Even after 40 years, every time I drive it, it is like the first time.”