GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lamborghini Miura

Back in the day, it seemed we were always going somewhere. It could be Matthew Ettinger and I taking our girlfriends to Las Vegas sampling the restaurants, the shows and the health club facilities (neither of us gambled--with anything but our lives, that is) and 'Vegas was still an elegant sort of place to be. Baseball caps were seen only in the downtown area or near the bus station and if you showed up on the Strip wearing flip-flops anywhere other than by the pool you would have been taken away and buried in the desert along with the other miscreants who had committed cardinal sins against the casinos.

Sometimes the excursions were local. Many were the times Matthew and I darted about Los Angles, his son Marcus with him in the Breadvan and his son Mason with me in the GTO. Occasionally, we were joined by John Andrews in his Lamborghini Miura--a beautiful car in orange with, I think, a standard a grey leather interior. I don't know that I would ever order an orange car--it was Frank Sinatra's favorite color, by the way--but the only other color offered initially by Lamborghini for the Miura was a vibrant, pale green. I'll take orange. On one very memorable occasion, John joined Matthew and me for a night ride which featured an episode of Matthew cliff-hanging in the Breadvan after sliding off a mountain road in Ice Canyon and losing power because the battery wasn't bolted down. It had slipped its cables.

There were times when John and I were off to see someone or something at some distant place and we would take the Miura. He would suggest that I drive, which I was always happy to do. It meant that he would have to share the passenger seat with my girlfriend Ruth, a tall, slender, pretty brunette with big brown eyes that could have inspired a Margaret Keane painting. I wonder who was getting the better deal in that arrangement.

The Miura was the first mid-engine car I'd ever driven and the handling dynamics are different than those of a front engine car. It felt very neutral as it tracked through corners. The big surprise for me though was when I first stepped on the accelerator pedal. It didn't budge. I thought maybe I was pushing on a dead pedal--the sort one finds to the left of the clutch pedal as a footrest--but that was ridiculous. I pushed harder and it finally moved and I heard the engine revs increase. I imagined that this is what the pilot of a Vickers VC10 must have experienced pushing rudder pedals attached to sixty yards of cable offering up maximum resistance. It was a stunning change from the GTO in which you only had to wiggle your toe to get a few thousand more RPMs on the tach.

I never knew whether John had effected some modification to the car that made the accelerator pedal a constant adversary or if the cause could be attributed to the flood of '66 in Florence, Italy. It seems that John bought the Miura used and sight unseen from Tom Meade and discovered the fact that it had been submerged at some point only after it landed on the docks in San Pedro. Life is an adventure and when you bought an exotic car in those days, you had doubled-down.

The Miura made a lovely noise and I enjoyed driving it very much. All things considered, I would have preferred a Lusso and the GTO was way out in front as far as I was concerned. However, the Miura was fun and it was different. It was a car that entertained the driver and I would like to drive one again sometime--preferably one that hadn't been in Florence in 1966.

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