My Car Quest

April 14, 2024

A Letter About The Miura Design Controversy

by Mike –

In the June 2013 issue of “Classic & Sports Car” magazine there was an article titled “Total Miura” that prompted a letter to the editor from My Car Quest reader and green Mangusta owner, Jonathan Root.

Lamborghini Miura

This letter was the “Classic & Sports Car” Letter of the month for August 2013. It addresses the Lamborghini Miura design controversy, a question that I have raised before here on My Car Quest.

I thought you might like to read this letter and Jonathan Root agreed to allow me to republish it.

Great to see the ‘Total Miura’ article in the June issue and especially Gautam Sen’s study into who really designed the car! This prompted me to forward it to Dick Ruzzin, who had many meetings with Nuccio Bertone and regularly went to Stile Bertone every three weeks for four and a half years.

Ruzzin replied;

Jonathan, “In the early Fall of 1991 Nuccio Bertone showed me his personal car collection, I had become Director of Design for General Motors of Europe in June 1991 and we had a contract with Stile Bertone.

When approaching the Miura he talked about how exciting the response to the Miura was at the 1965 Turin Motor Salon. My question was simply,”Who was the designer of the Miura?”

Mr. Bertone explained that at that time Mr. Giugiaro had been in charge of the design studio and the model shop area, which was a big responsibility for a person so young.

When Giugiaro left, Mr. Bertone said that he needed an immediate replacement. A new designer, Marcello Gandini, was very young and had only worked there for a short time. Mr. Bertone could see that he had talent but he felt that he was not quite ready for such a big responsibility, he was however designing the Miura. As the design progressed Mr. Bertone became increasingly unhappy with the way the car looked. He made many suggestions but said that Gandini always ignored him.

The design was finished and the project was within two weeks of being completed in the model shop when Gandini left to go on vacation.

Mr. Bertone was very unhappy with the car and he said that he changed it. He did not say where the changes came from, only that he changed it to his satisfaction. When Mr. Gandini returned the car was already painted and finished.

It is not hard to imagine that since Giugiaro had just left there would be a great deal of his work remaining, as well as remnants of his artistic culture. As the top Bertone designer he most certainly would have been involved in the beginning of the project.

Also, there are many elements on the Miura that reflect previous Giugiaro designs. When these are recognised it is clear that Giugiaro was part of the beginning of the project and that some of his influence lived through to the end”.

All the best,

Dick Ruzzin

Jonathan Root
Chalk Farm, London

What do you think? Let us know in the Comments.

Jane Wietzmann's Miura P400S and Jonathan Root's Mangusta at Salon Prive 2012

Jane Wietzmann’s Miura P400S and Jonathan Root’s Mangusta at Salon Prive 2012 (photo by Jonathan Root)


  1. Grifo4me says

    Mr. Roots letter is very interesting indeed, just adding another layer of question to Gandini’s total input. Many Lamborghini fans want everyone to believe that Gandini was a true genius designing the Miura on his own, but as the years go by we find out that Giugiaro and Nuccio Bertone played a larger part than anyone could have guessed. In this case too many cooks didn’t spoil the broth!

    It would be interesting to know what changes Bertone made.

    • My guess is the changes Bertone made were from the pen of Giugiaro.

      • Have you seen Giugiaro Jr’s present to his father !

        Fabrizio Giugiaro found some of his father’s old sketches from the Bertone era (1960-1965). He digitized one of them, milled it, painted it, put on wheels, headlamps, some brightwork around the windows and a period numberplate.

        • DICK RUZZIN says

          I have seen that model and Fabrizzio supposedly did it from a Miura sketch. It did have a number of Giugiaro design ques but did not look like a Muira proposal to me.

          Considering the number of cars that he worked on while at Bertone it could have been anything.

          All the best,
          DICK RUZZIN

  2. DICK RUZZIN says


    A car design is rarely done completely by one person. He or she might have artistic control but who they works for, the client and others that will execute the design will have influence and suggestions when problems arise. There always are problems of function, manufacturing, etc. Bertone had a contemporary and complete design staff. They were very skillful as artists and designers. They crafted full size models in clay as well as plaster which was the medium they used the most. It was amazing to watch them work.

    The level of artistic quality that I experienced when I was there was extremely high, as good as anywhere in the design industry around the world. Add that to the fact that Stile Bertone operated in a 2000 year old aesthetic culture that permeated everything in Italy and you can understand why the results were so highly received.

    Nuccio Bertone was not formally trained as a designer but he grew up with it from the time he was a baby. He loved design and told me that it was the most important thing in his professional life more than once. We got along well. When I left to return to the United States after my last meeting at Stile Bertone he was ill so I did not see him to say goodby.
    A few days later I received a signed letter from him that I treasure. I do so not only because he was a great designer but also because he said some thing in it about our very successful time working together and how much he enjoyed his association with me and the other Opel designers.

    I have heard some say that Bertone was not a designer. They say that he knew how to choose design talent. That is true but he not only knew how to choose design talent he knew how to nurture and mentor it to the benefit of many. Believe me when I say that his design influence is what made the many beautiful and elegant vehicles designed at Stile Bertone as successful as they were.

    His respect and love for design and the cars that were done under him were shown to me the second time that we met. He showed his collection to me and asked me what I thought .

    When I answered I saw that he had tears in his dark eyes.


    • Mr. Ruzzin,

      Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It is always great to hear from someone who was there!

      NOVEMBER 21, 2019
      One more thing about the Miura, as recently I have been thinking about the Miura compared to the Mangusta. Each is considered as better than the other by many. I own a Mangusta and have studied it for almost fifty years.

      Each car is elegant and sporty. Each is also dramatic dimensionally so you could call them aesthetically equal. However, each car has a prominant life that has evolved as time has gone on. Compared to the Mangusta the Miura is starting to show more age, I think I can explain why.

      The Miura is a great looking car with a wonderful and skillfuly executed form language as seen on many Giugiaro design solutions. It is reflective of it’s day. The Miura’s real strength is it’s proportion. The Mangusta design and especially it’s form language was like nothing else when introduced and it pointed to the future. It was imitated by the entire gobal auto industry at the time. The Miura look is set in the time that it was created, but the Mangusta’s sheer surfaces and subtle curves enhanced by sharp peaks point to the future.

      It was designed in 1966 but so imitated for years to come that it now looks significantly newer than the Miura due to its purity. Add that to the strong aesthetic influence that it had on generations of car designers and it must be given the nod as the most significant design of the two. It clearly changed the design direction of the global auto industry at the time. As great looking as the Miura is it did not influence car design.

      It is very hard to do that.

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