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Now That's What I Call a Birthday Party

By Simon Kidston

Remember those epic Spaghetti Westerns starring Clint Eastwood back in the '60s? You know, the ones which open with a wide desert landscape, heat shimmering in the distance, until eventually your eyes focus on a lone horseman approaching in a wide-brimmed hat and leaving a dust cloud in his wake. Now imagine he's driving a sports car instead.

Same location, different era. We're in Andalucia, an unspoiled region of south-western Spain once beloved of filmmakers, and there isn't a soul in sight for miles ahead. Not much has changed here for decades - centuries perhaps - but somebody's been thoughtful enough to add a smooth, majestically curving blacktop road which winds its way to the horizon and beyond. Showtime.

And astern? Well, ten inches behind our heads is a very noisy animal which boasts as much power as 385 of Clint's horses, although it is Italian so we'll allow some poetic licence. Chasing in close formation, another 385 horses, and yet more again... all vying for attention and brightening the Spanish countryside with vivid colour and piercing sound as 23 Lamborghini Miuras dice with each other in convoy on the first morning of our 50th Anniversary Miura Tour.

It certainly beats polishing them.

Why Spain? A special birthday deserves a special venue, and one in particular had long been overlooked. It's the birthplace of the animal which gave its name to the car and yet, amazingly, half a century had passed since the two had last met.

On a faraway day in 1966, dapper, chain-smoking Italian entrepreneur Ferruccio Lamborghini arrived at the Ganaderia Miura in Zahariche to pay his respects to the head of the family which had bred the formidable fighting bulls of the same name there since 1842. Ferruccio brought with him something unexpected: a low slung, avant-garde sports car which was destined to catapult his fledgling automotive marque into the Big Time. The badge on its rear haunches bore a familiar name. Had a surprised Don Eduardo Miura known, he might have expected more than a handshake and a thank you...

The distinctive bull's skull-topped entrance with crude wooden 'Miura' lettering is immediately recognisable from countless history books. A short, dusty drive later and the convoy pulls up outside the ranch. The pencil-moustachioed patriarch Don Eduardo went to meet Ferruccio at that farm in the sky many years ago, but his sons Don Eduardo and Don Antonio are here to greet us, along with their families including Antonio's son Eduardo. Names are easy to remember here.

Fast forward three days and it's been an epic adventure. We've learnt that Romanians are great to have around in a crisis or a party; nothing stops the Japanese from smiling and they assume speed limits are a suggestion only; the Belgians party like rock stars; the Swiss go from Jekyll to Hyde on the dance floor; and Valentino Balboni really is the Miura Whisperer.

Twenty-three started, 22 finished, and the missing crew bought the drinks. Who's up for the next one?