It has a starring role in the classic movie The Italian Job – in one of the most memorable opening sequences in cinema history.
A stunning orange supercar races through the Alps, before disappearing into a tunnel. Then, in a heart-breaking moment for car fans, the Lamborghini Miura crashes in a ball of flames. The smashed up wreckage is dragged out of the tunnel by the mafia and pushed into a ravine by a bulldozer – followed by a wreath for the driver.
The millions who have seen the iconic film since it was made in 1969 must have assumed the car was an irrecoverable write-off, never to be driven again.
But now The Mail on Sunday can reveal the car seen powering through the Alps has been found in pristine condition – and is worth more than £1 million. Described as ‘the holy grail of supercars’, it has been tracked down by two British businessman.
The car’s new co-owner, Iain Tyrrell, received a tip-off at Christmas that the Miura had resurfaced.
He said: ‘I was initially sceptical because no one had seen it for 46 years. But my source was a credible one so I started to pursue it.’
He was invited to see it – but given just three hours to verify the vehicle as the genuine article. ‘It was all very James Bond-ish – I had to go to Paris to inspect the car in a secret underground car park,’ he said.
Mr Tyrrell learned that the thrilling sequence that opens The Italian Job was shot using two cars – both supplied by Lamborghini, but one of them was already smashed up.
It is the first, intact, car that has now been found. Mr Tyrrell said: ‘The Italian Job Lamborghini is the holy grail of supercars precisely because no one knew what happened to it after the film. I have a life-long passion for these cars but I just assumed this particular vehicle was out of reach.’
As the Miura is still in near-mint condition, Mr Tyrrell – who owns Cheshire Classic Cars – was able to cross-reference its original features with stills from the film. He has also checked the car’s history at the Lamborghini archive. He said: ‘After inspecting the car, there is no doubt in my mind that it is the Miura from The Italian Job.
There are certain quirks within the interior of the car, such as the trim and the stitching. They are like a fingerprint or a birth mark. They can’t be replaced.’
Research has uncovered that the filmmakers, Paramount, hired the car from Lamborghini and after filming it was sold to a dealer.
The dealer then sold the Miura to an unidentified buyer. In 2005, after it had changed hands a few times, Norbetto Ferretti, a luxury yacht manufacturer, bought it. This transaction brought a remarkable coincidence to the saga – as Mr Ferretti was the son of the dealer who originally bought it from Lamborghini after The Italian Job. Incredibly, it seems that both he and its previous owners had been completely unaware of its role in the movie.
Mr Tyrrell and his friend and co-owner, Keith Ashworth, now plan to display the Lamborghini around the world, although they have not ruled out selling it on. The car’s value is likely to increase substantially in the light of its history.
But the Miura mystery has not been entirely solved. The smashed -up Lamborghini, vanished without trace after it disappeared down the mountainside.
Mr Tyrrell said: ‘When the production team went back to salvage the remains of the crashed car the next day it had gone. The whole car had disappeared and had obviously been stolen.’
Built between 1966 and 1973, the 170mph Lamborghini Miura is widely credited with kick-starting the trend for high performance two-seater sports cars.
In 2004, Top Gear magazine voted it the coolest car in the world.