Jeff Meier’s latest acquisition of the all-time great Lamborghini Miura-by way of a stunning garage find-is a heck of a story, filled with fortunate good luck. But his fascination with Lamborghini’s original supercar runs much deeper.
Meier was born and raised in Cleveland, where he grew up in a large family. His father owned an automotive repair shop, so there were always different cars parked in the driveway. As early as the age of five, Meier developed a curiosity for cars that flourished into a hobby of identifying them when he’d see them driving on the road. The same kid that would shout out “Volkswagen,” “Chevy,” and “Ford” from the backseat when his father pointed at a car would one day become a full-fledged car expert and collector in his own right.
The Lamborghini Miura Bug Bites Hard
Now living in Los Angeles, Meier, a self-described automotive consultant, 59, has a laid-back demeanor that conceals his ownership of an unrestored 1969 Lamborghini Miura P400S in spectacular factory orange paint. Carefully parked inside his home office, the story of how this Lamborghini Miura in his favorite color found him is remarkable, an experience that Meier views as a once in a lifetime discovery. Remarkably, though, it would not be his last garage-find Miura
Meier’s attachment to the Lamborghini Miura began in his 30s when he saw an example of the car in real life for the first time; he walked around it and could not find one disagreeable angle. It was advanced, beautifully designed, fast, and revolutionary. More than a decade later, his chance to own the ultimate dream car of his era came by way of a conversation.
“I wanted to be the person that took that car and did the right thing to it, rather than someone getting a hold of it and destroying the originality. Most people think that when you show a car at Pebble Beach that it has to be the most perfect one in the world, and it does not. It’s about the car being the most authentic and original of its type as it would have been when sold new; flaws and everything.” –Jeff Meier
A relative informed Meier in 2000 about the orange Miura, and he made it his mission to acquire the car. A retired electrical engineer named Earl, living in Oregon, purchased the Miura as a retirement gift for himself in his 60s. He then stashed it away in a garage, where it remained stored for several years. Meier’s task of buying it would require many visits to Earl’s home throughout a five-year period before Meier would have the opportunity to make a lucrative offer.
The Lamborghini Miura Ball Gets Rolling
When Meier officially acquired the garage-find car from Earl’s estate sale in 2005, he knew he had unearthed an impeccable and time-warped Lamborghini that just needed some TLC to get back on the road.
Rather than restoring his excellent find, Meier, an originality purist, began the extensive preservation work and had the car running within three weeks. Since acquiring the ’69 Miura S, it has won numerous awards, including Best in Class and Best Post-War Preservation Car in 2016 for the 50th anniversary of the Lamborghini Miura celebrated at Pebble Beach.
Lambo Luck Runneth Over
Just when Meier thought he had discovered one of the most original and unrestored Miuras on the planet, fortune knocked on his door once again. This time around, though, a white 1971 Lamborghini Miura S with an all-blue interior, with just 15,600 miles showing on the odometer—and all matching numbers—had been hidden at a body shop in California’s Bay Area for approximately 45 years.
How did Meier get this lucky? In a strange turn of events, a YouTube video of his orange Miura that was published in 2017 (now with more than 1.1 million views) was seen by someone who had information on another Miura garage find. Through countless phone calls, the viewer tracked down Meier and asked if he’d be interested in seeing the car. The viewer was a contractor working on the property of a man who owned the body shop in Benicia, California, where a Miura was in storage for almost five decades. After a thorough inspection, Meier determined its authenticity; the car had remained untouched, and it maintained its originality.
Another Purchase Completed
In summer 2019, Meier arranged a deal with the shop owner’s broker and purchased his second Miura. He paid more than the perceived market value, an amount he prefers not to disclose because the seller felt he was leaving money on the table by not selling the Miura restored. An auction company had approached the seller about listing it for sale as a barn find, but Meier did his work to prevent that from happening. He once again saw more value in preserving the Lamborghini garage find, rather than letting it fall into a restorer’s hands.
As it turned out, the 1971 Lamborghini Miura S has a great story of its own.
The car was owned in brand-new condition by a 19-year-old Iranian girl while she attended UC Berkeley in the 1970s. Her parents in Iran had sent it to the U.S. to be sold by a Lamborghini distributor in California; however, upon its U.S. arrival, the daughter elected to commandeer the Miura as her daily driver. Even though an advertisement had published listing it for sale, the keys never exchanged hands. Instead, the white Lamborghini was run around town by a teenager who had her fair share of mishaps while driving it.
An Amusing Miura Tale
As best as Meier could piece together, the college student came from a wealthy Iranian family closely related to the Shah of Iran, who was quite a car collector himself. At one point, he supposedly had more than 3,000 cars, including four Miuras.
The car that made its way to California was purchased directly by a Lamborghini agent for the family, which planned to use it to transfer money out of Iran by shipping it to the U.S. and putting it up for sale. Meier believes the Miura was sent not to the 19-year-old student to drive around town, but rather to sell and then do as instructed with the funds. She did, however, advertise the car for sale.
The Miura registry provided a copy of a letter from Bob Estes—Lamborghini’s West Coast distributor—to Lamborghini corporate, stating he was aware of the chassis no. 4761 Miura advertised for sale. Estes wanted to make sure it met U.S. safety and emissions regulations, and though the car did not come through his dealership, it was indeed a U.S. model with the proper emissions label and safety requirements. Meier also serendipitously found a blog post on Curbside Classic with a photograph of the white Lamborghini Miura parked outside of the International House at UC Berkeley in 1972, shot by a visitor taken aback by seeing an exotic on campus. A credible source from an Iranian car club confirmed the female student coming down the stairs in the photo was the original owner.
The Miura’s Second Chapter
How did this Lamborghini Miura become an eventual garage find? Within two years of acquiring it, the woman had a series of misfortunes, including a crash during a road trip to Los Angeles that left the Miura undrivable.
The car was taken to a Burbank towing yard and abandoned for a year and a half. A body-shop owner who was already familiar with the Miura from previous repairs had it flat-bedded back to his establishment in the Bay Area. But he had trouble sourcing necessary parts and did not have someone talented enough to execute the repairs. The woman’s parents, meanwhile, decided to avoid the headache, bought their daughter a new car, and sold the Lamborghini to the body-shop owner. He apparently hoped to eventually restore the Miura to its original state, but in the meantime stashed it away in one of his shops, where it remained untouched for 40-plus years.
Despite being shopworn after spending most of those years uncovered in the corner of a building filled with scrap metal and junk, the car was so complete that only a few minor things were missing. The shop owner made a trip to the Lamborghini factory in 1977 and purchased the parts required for the repairs, and they were still inside the building, receipt and all, when Meier discovered the car. Other invaluable items still intact were the original tool kit and owner’s manual. Inside the car, Meier also found the woman’s Quran, a newspaper ad for an apartment rental, and a ticket stub from a theater in Long Beach, California.
With his Miura purchase, Meier also received an unbelievable amount of documentation, which included all of the transfer papers, every receipt for service and repairs, towing-service receipts, and the invoice for the private car sale. Meier paid more than a fair price for the garage-find Miura because he saw something else special only Lamborghini experts might spot: This late production Series 2S Miura was built within about 30 cars of the limited SV models, and it featured several items directly from the SV, including larger carburetors, updated brake-cooling ducts, and structural reinforcements for better performance. One of two Lamborghini Miuras available in white paint for the 1971 model year, this particular example came in what was called gray-white, and it still had its intact PPG paint-code label. Meier rightly chose to do preservation work, not a full restoration.
“Preservation all the way,” he said. “The type of person that buys such a car is a connoisseur of Miuras who knows what gives the car value. A preservation-type restoration preserves the manufacturing flaws and the car’s authenticity. It’s the difference between showing how a car has lived versus stripping a car down using new technology and products to create a new representation of what it should be. I like original materials and build quality that shows the imperfections of a hand-built car.”
Getting Down to Work
The garage-find Miura’s most critical repair was the front-end damage from the crash that ended the woman’s ownership experience. Finding the most qualified person to do the metalwork was critical; for Meier, the original aluminum nose needed to stay with the car, and it needed to be flawless and ready to paint without the need to add a filler coat. Enter Beckman Metal Works of Costa Mesa, California, which removed the damaged section and measured Meier’s orange Miura for the proper specs. For eight months, Beckman reconstructed the headlight area and nose, and then sectioned that into the original aluminum.
Jeff Stephan, a consultant and one of Meier’s good friends, surveyed all of the car’s mechanicals. He inspected every piece and either replaced it with new or reconditioned it as specified by Lamborghini. The work included restoration of the Weber carburetors, installing a new radiator and water pump, reconstructing a new fuel tank, tightening the timing chains, and removing the cam covers and adjusting the valve clearances.
The jewels in the garage-find Miura’s crown are the engine velocity stacks that Stephan built with the direction of Bob Wallace, one of the engineers who contributed to the development of Lamborghini road cars. Wallace and Stephan came up with the specs, and a company in Germany produced the velocity stacks specific to their design. Meier likes to think of them as a Harry Winston diamond necklace on a beautiful lady, and for him, a highlight is looking through the rearview mirror and seeing the trumpet-shaped air intakes.
Back on the Road
With everything finally in proper working order, and after it had sat still for roughly 48 years, Meier took the two-tone Miura on its inaugural drive to a cars-and-coffee meetup in Malibu, California. Car spotters tailed the Miura to take pictures and give praise. When Meier pulled into the cars-and-coffee gathering, a swarm of enthusiasts congregated around the Lamborghini, the questions poured in, and a constant snapping of photos ensued.
Bringing this garage-find Lamborghini Miura back to life and out onto the road on a Sunday drive to Malibu was, no surprise, an emotional experience for Meier. He has no idea what will happen next with the car, and the uncertainty—the potential—is now perhaps the most fun part of it all.