Friday, October 21, 2011

Side Projects: The Lamborghini Miura

This is (or maybe was) DHH's Lamborghini (photo by symmetricalism).

Most Rails developers know DHH extracted Rails from an application he was building. It may even have been a side project. What many people do not know is the core design of DHH's Lamborghini started as a side project too, about 40 years ago.

From the September issue of Robb Report:

The Miura, the first viable mid-engine sports car, might be Lamborghini's most celebrated model, for both its mechanical and aesthetic attributes, but company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini did not initially champion the automobile. Knowing that their boss planned for the then newly-formed marque to produce refined grand tourers instead of race-ready sports cars, the engineers initially developed what would become the Miura in their spare time.

Wikipedia has more:

The car is widely considered to have begun the trend of high performance, two-seater, mid-engined sports cars. At launch, it was the fastest production road car available.

The Miura was originally conceived by Lamborghini's engineering team, who designed the car in their spare time against the wishes of company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, who showed a preference towards producing powerful yet sedate grand touring cars, rather than the racecar-derived machines produced by local rival Ferrari. When its rolling chassis was presented at the 1965 Turin auto show, and the prototype P400 debuted at the 1966 Geneva show, the car received a stellar reception from showgoers and motoring press alike, who were impressed by Marcelo Gandini's sleek styling as well as the car's revolutionary design.


During 1965, Lamborghini's three top engineers, Gian Paolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzani, and Bob Wallace put their own time into the development of a prototype car known as the P400. The engineers envisioned a road car with racing pedigree; a car which could win on the track and be driven on the road by enthusiasts. The three men worked on the car's design at night, hoping to sway Lamborghini from the opinion that such a vehicle would be too expensive and would distract from the company's focus. When finally brought aboard, Lamborghini allowed his engineers to go ahead, deciding that the P400 was a potential marketing tool, if nothing more.

The Robb Report story also mentions that the Miura featured brilliant and original engineering. It debuted:

at the 1965 Turin auto show. Though the car lacked a body, showgoers still placed orders for it.