The Miura SVJ “Jota” is appropriately named. There is no “J” in the Italian language and designer Bob Wallace’s competition version of the legendary Miura never existed as a production car. It was his dream. The best-of-the-best Miuras is practically a myth.
The original 1966 Miura was a product of passion and engineering excellence. The designers, Giampaolo Dallara, Paolo Stanzini and Bob Wallace, were in their 20s. Dallara and Stanzini were engineers, Wallace an expert Maserati mechanic, and they all admired Colin Chapman’s lightweight unitised construction and Eric Broadley’s mid-engined Lola, which had evolved into the Ford GT 40. Together with designer Marcello Gandini, they designed arguably the first supercar, with its transverse V-12 engine, complex aircraft-quality construction, front and rear clamshells and plain go-to-hell brilliance.
The Miura evolved into the P400S in 1968, a roadster was toyed with (one built), but Wallace had other ideas. He wanted to go racing. The original 1970 Jota model was a one-off test bed to see if a competition car would fit into the FIA’s Appendix J. Wallace reused the powertrain of the Miura with all the upcoming 1971 SV upgrades: the split-sump lubrication systems for the engine and transmission, the chassis was stiffened, the headlight eyebrows disappeared, the rear track was widened and the fenders flared. The rear suspension wishbones were extended 1.5 inches and moved to the top of the frame instead of beneath it, the rear tyres were widened from seven inches to nine inches, and the fenders bulged to cover them.
The inside of a Jota was a complete racing car, following the prototype rules defined by the FIA. One-millimetre thick chrome-moly steel pipes were welded to the ladder chassis, and aluminium sheet skin was riveted over the chassis, making an aluminium semi-monocoque shell. The body was made entirely of aluminium, unlike the production cars where the roof was steel, compression was bumped to 11.5 to 1, the engine generated 440 hp at 8,000 rpm, the whole car weighed only 1784.5 pounds, and it was four inches lower.
The main focus of Wallace’s modifications was to decrease and balance weight. So the Jota had a completely stripped interior, single wiper, Plexiglas windows and fixed headlights. Most of the weight savings came from the use of a light-gauge aluminium alloy called Avional, which was used for the new body, floorpan and front spoiler.
Correct weight balance was achieved by repositioning the fuel tanks in the sills and the spare tyre just behind the engine. This weight reduction and balance would have made the Jota extremely competitive. From the outside, the new Jota was instantly recognisable from its Plexiglas headlights and front splitter used to decrease front lift. New side air vents were fitted and riveted on. The transmission and engine lubricating systems were separated and a dry sump lubrication system installed. Power was transferred to the rear wheels through a close-ratio ZF differential.
The competition Jota was sent on a 20,000-mile driving test and was supposed to be scrapped when the SV was introduced at the Geneva Show in 1971, as Ferruccio Lamborghini had no interest in competition. But it was reportedly sold to millionaire Alfredo Belpone in Brescia, Italy, with its racing specifications intact. To issue an invoice, the company needed a production certificate, and the Jota was given s/n 5084, an SV continuation number. The car was restored at the factory on 2 August, 1972 and dispatched to its new owner, but his joy was short-lived. According to a research document, the car crashed and burned on a closed Autostrada while being tested. The original (and intended to be only) Jota was never rebuilt.
Soon after Wallace's modifications became known, customers began to request Jota-like options in their orders. Lamborghini obliged and five (or up to seven, depending on the source) Miura SVJs were built. These cars had some interior comforts but kept the purposeful body modifications and engine tuning. They also had suspension, exhaust and brake cooling upgrades. One or two supposedly received dry sump lubrication.
This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2010 at the Battersea Evolution, London.
385 hp, 3,929 cc DOHC transverse V-12 engine, four Weber three-barrel carburettors, five-speed manual transaxle, independent front and rear suspension by coil springs and unequal length wishbones, four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 98.4"