Namesake for not only the eponymous 1966 supercar but most Lamborghinis, noted by Hemingway and countless dead matadors, these are the cunning, ferocious Miura bulls of Andalusia.
Miuras have been around longer than the State of California. Derived from five Spanish breeds of fighting bull, they have been living on the estate of Don Eduardo
Miura and his descendants since 1842. Names which would later surface on Lamborghini cars date back to the 19th century: Gallardo was the name of one of the five breeds used by Don Miura, while Murciélago was a particularly hardy bull which survived 28 sword strokes in a 1879 bullfight, prompting the crowd to call for the matador to spare its life, which he did. Like many of its pampered, garage queen namesakes, it lived out its remaining days free of worry.
Thirty years before a certain Italian tractor billionaire would focus his car company’s branding on his obsession with Miuras and all things bull, Ernest Hemingway wrote about Don Eduardo’s bulls in Death in the Afternoon, his 1932 book about bullfighting:
[…] there are certain strains even of bulls in which the ability to learn rapidly in the ring is highly developed. These bulls must be fought and killed as rapidly as possible with the minimum of exposure by the man, for they learn more rapidly than the fight ordinarily progresses and become exaggeratedly difficult to work with and kill.
Bulls of this sort are the old caste of fighting bulls raised by the sons of Don Eduardo Miura of Sevilla […]
It was after a 1962 visit to the Miura ranch that Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to use a fighting bull as the mascot of his company. Lamborghini’s first cars were given conventional numeric names, but his young team’s violent, dramatic, mid-engined supercar was named after Don Eduardo’s bulls, and the fourth production model was presented to the rancher himself, shown here in a surreal bucolic landscape of dust, shrubs, and mid-mounted V12:
The Miura was just the beginning. Future Lamborghinis would delve deep into bullfighting history. The lovely, understated Islero was named after the bull which killed the legendary Manolete, eulogized in Time magazine on September 8, 1947.
Reventón killed the Mexican bullfighter Félix Guzmán in 1943. Diablo was another Miura from the late 19th century. In a twist, the Espada is named after the long sword used in bullfights, while one gets the sense that LM002 will be the name of a cybernetic bullminator set to wreak havoc on the Spanish countryside in 2012.
While twelve years of German ownership are slowly turning the tide of bovine nomenclature into a slew of marketingesque Latin and strings of numbers and hyphens, Miuras are still going strong. They show up every year for the Running of the Bulls in the northern Spanish city of Pamplona, and they haven’t gotten any tamer. If you have the stomach for pictures of sudden changes in bodily intergrity, here’s a 2009 Daily Mail piece on what happens when man and Miura collide.