50 years later, Lamborghini confirms the identity of the Miura in The Italian Job

A car that has been a mystery for a half century has been identified by the Lamborghini in-house restoration shop as the Lamborghini Miura that appeared in the 1969 film The Italian Job.

A personal confession is in order. Even though there is a genuine 1963 Mini Cooper parked about 20 feet from where I’m sitting (it has belonged to my older brother, who lives in Jerusalem, since the early 1970s), I’ve never seen either version of The Italian Job from beginning to end. Not the original 1969 motion picture starring Michael Caine and a number of real Minis, nor the 2003 version with Mark Wahlberg and BMW’s remake of the Mini.

I’ve seen enough clips, though, to know that Minis were not the only cool cars to appear in The Italian Job. The Caine edition opens with a gorgeous Lamborghini Miura P400, painted in “Arancio Miura” (Miura Orange), being casually driven through the Great St. Bernard Pass in the Swiss Alps by actor Rossano Brazzi, playing master thief Roger Beckerman. As the credits roll, Beckerman’s car enters a tunnel, only to crash into a bulldozer placed at the exit by mafiosi, whom we later learn have their own plans for a shipment of gold that Beckerman was planning to heist.

We don’t see the actual crash, but the film does portray the bulldozer dumping the carcass of a badly wrecked orange Miura off the side of a mountain. Wrecking Austin Minis was one thing, but lest you think that Lamborghini actually let Paramount Pictures destroy a Miura, which was rare and very desirable even when new, you can calm down. When a pre-production team from Paramount visited Lamborghini’s factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese, it found a Miura that was badly wrecked and perfect for the after-crash scene. A close look at the car as it tumbles into the ravine reveals its drivetrain was already removed.

Lamborghini Miura P400 engine
Lamborghini Miura P400 steering wheel

Lamborghini Miura P400 front 3/4

Once there was a wrecked Miura to work with, it was simply a question of finding a matching Miura for use in the pre-crash action scenes. Fortunately, there was an almost-completed P400 in Arancio Orange on the assembly line. That car had a white interior, and Lamborghini was planning to sell the car after The Italian Job crew was done with it. The white leather seats were temporarily removed and replaced with black seats from one of the test Miuras. The white headrests were permanently fixed, though, and you can see them in the film.

Factory driver Enzo Moruzzi personally delivered the Miura to the movie set and drove it in the film as Brazzi’s stunt double. After filming, the original seats were re-installed and the car was prepped for delivery to an Italian buyer. Since then, it has passed through four more owners around the world, including Lichtenstein’s Fritz Kaiser, founder of The Classic Car Trust, who currently owns the car.

In the meantime, once Lamborghini fans figured out that two Miuras were used in the movie, they started trying to identify and locate the car that Brazzi and Moruzzi drove in the film. That verification, however, would have to wait five decades.

Kaiser had a clue that his Miura was the movie car, but to verify that, he sent it to Lamborghini’s Polo Storico department, where it was carefully examined. Polo Storico was created by Lamborghini in 2015 to provide certification, restoration services, and reproduction parts for classic Lamborghinis made up to 2001. It also maintains Lamborghini’s corporate archives.

After examination, the Miura was matched against documentation from the archives. Former employees like Moruzzi, previous owners, and Lamborghini enthusiasts were also consulted, and their accounts were collated with the archival data. Now, on the 50th anniversary of The Italian Job’s original release, Lamborghini can say with certainty that chassis #3586 was the Miura from the original movie.

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