autos

Behind the scenes at Lamborghini's vast archive


But there is still plenty to do. The ‘truth’ Ronconi speaks of sits at the heart of the work Polo Storico undertakes when it isn’t forensically restoring cars like Miura SV chassis #4846 – the wondrous, perfect green machine pictured above – or making historically accurate spare parts. This work involves the awarding, or sometimes the withholding, of prized certificates of authenticity, which cost up to €10,000 (£8900) but can mean rather a lot more than that to an owner or prospective purchaser.

“Twenty-five years ago, you could find a Miura hidden behind other used cars at a dealership,” says Ronconi. And he isn’t exaggerating. Even in 2005, an unexceptional but sound SV sold for just £176,200 at Bonhams; today, a similar car would set you back around £1.5m. And alongside its current status as the most valuable car ever to wear the bull crest, Gandini’s masterpiece is also the model that causes the most severe certification-related headaches for Ronconi and co.

“They are the hardest. Some owners state that the modifications from early P400 or S [specification] to an SV have been done at the factory,” he says. “This is, in the majority of cases, not corresponding to the truth.” The chuckle as he says this gives away his love of the job: “Lamborghini did some upgrades on some cars – cars that had been heavily damaged – but we don’t have the data.” And the supposed word of the chief tester at the time, heard third-hand through your cousin’s friend’s gardener’s neighbour, isn’t going to convince someone like Ronconi.

Strictly speaking, even an endeavour as innocent as fitting SV wheels to an otherwise pristine P400 or using 215-section tyres to improve the handling (an early Miura uses 205-section rubber) is enough for Lamborghini to withhold the documentation. Harsh? Perhaps, but where else do you suggest they draw the line? That every different model has similar idiosyncrasies makes the job an investigative minefield.

Which brings us to the Comitato dei Saggi (the Committee of Wise Men). This intimate group meets ad hoc to debate and determine originality when the subject matter strays beyond even the considerable expertise of the archivists. It passes judgement in more complicated cases: for example, one concerning the front clam of a crashed Miura – one that was not restored by Polo Storico and that seems to have a repunched VIN on the new panel. Certification can be awarded to a car whose engine and, say, differential or body have differing numeric identities but are nevertheless each original, but you need to know your stuff to make that call.



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