Bob Wallace

11-15-2003, 01:20 PM
TOP GEAR copy from Giles Chapman
subject: Front End - I Was There: Bob Wallace

Without the car-handling skills of gravel-voiced Australian Bob Wallace,
the Lamborghini Miura, unveiled in Geneva 37 years ago this month, might never have hit the road.

I was a race car mechanic when I joined Ferruccio Lamborghini's tiny
company in 1963. I'd known the chassis designer Giampaolo Dallara from
way back on the circuits from his Maserati days, and he talked me into
going there. I figured that here was an opportunity to do something
really interesting.

The chassis for the Miura was unveiled at Turin in 1965. Nuccio Bertone
saw it and put his young designer Marcello Gandini on to designing a
body for it before even speaking to us. It was on spec and the early
work was all done for free, I believe. Gandini was very, very bright,
and the styling was dead right - spot on.

A team of three of us worked night and day to get the car ready for
Geneva at Bertone's design department. We half-killed ourselves, and the show car wasn't even a runner! But the public's reaction to it was
fantastic; there was a book-full of orders and its layout, which,
really, was based on the Mini's, changed a lot of people's thinking.
Ferruccio was very pleased with the praise, especially when Ferrari or
Agnelli or someone brought a load of engineers over to the car and said:
"Gentlemen - wake up!"

To hell with it: I hated standing there in a stuffy hall. My job was to
drive the car and improve the thing. And it might have been a commercial success but the early cars were horrible. We really had to do the whole damn thing again from scratch. About two months later I had to drive the first road-going car to Monaco for the grand prix. It was good for publicity and I enjoyed it. There wasn't much traffic in those days. I was young and stupid, and I didn't know what would fall off. In Italy at the time, a set of test plates was like a gift from God. You never got a ticket, probably because old man Lamborghini had bribed the local police to leave us alone. It was insanity: only after a few accidents did I calm down.

The production car had a lot of shortcomings. It was reasonably
well-built but not very rigid and the electrical and oil systems were
problematic. Fortunately, only about 10 per cent of our customers
noticed. It was crude, hotter than hell, and a lttle cramped. You
couldn't sell a car like that today, what we did back then is no longer

I drove literally every one of the early cars, taking them out from
Sant'Agata, along the freeway, up into the mountains - anything from 150 to 200 miles each. The cars did improve; we got a lot done because we were young and energetic. But there are still too many myths about all these cars and how great they were.

I would have loved to race the Miura. I even built a lightweight one in
my spare time. But Ferruccio was absolutely aganst it. He realised he
couldn't afford to do two things at once, like building road cars and
running a race team. He was an extremely intelligent man...and that was
an intelligent business decision.

Bob Wallace, 65, was Lamborghini's development test driver for 10 years
from 1963 until 1973, helping perfect every model from the GT350 to the
Countach. He now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, where he runs an
bespoke engine shop which works on, among other cars, classic Ferraris.

The Lamborghini Miura is the undisputed grand-daddy of supercars; the
first V12-engined GT with an engine mounted longitudinally and in the
centre. Of the first cars, 475 were made between 1966 and 1969, when a much-improved Miura S (140 built) was released. The final model, the
1971 SV (150 built), was better still, with 385bhp on tap. Every one
could top 170mph but it was really the gorgeous looks that made it every schoolboy's bedroom pin-up in the late 1960s.

11-15-2003, 01:27 PM
here is a telegram that Wallace sent, confirming the top speed of the Miura

11-15-2003, 07:57 PM
who are you? very precious information you've got there... this is something we don't find everyday... thank you very much!

11-16-2003, 11:05 AM
i am The Lamborghinisti :iceslolan
expect more info like this from me.

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