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Drivers Union member Georg turns his Lamborghini Miura into a work of art

   Enter the words “Art Car” into Google and you will be shown an array of wrapped automobiles. So you would be forgiven for thinking, like I did on my first viewing, that the art work on this Lamborghini Miura P400 was also wrap. It isn’t. What you see are layers of paint scraped away at varying depths to reveal over 53 years of paintwork. An artistic intimacy lacking in the wrapped cars and therefore may arguably be defined as a true Art Car.
   The Miura in question belongs to DU Member Georg, a collector of many fine things including automobiles of which he has over 30, some with an amazing history (more of that in future issues). I caught up with Georg who relayed story of his Miura Art Car.“Decades ago, I was looking at adverts in magazines and came across a Miura. I had never heard the name Lamborghini Miura before. The Lamborghini Countach I knew, but the Miura I had never heard of and had never seen. So I researched and learnt there were several models of Miura and I had to make a decision of which one I should buy. The very first lightweight P400, the second, called the 400S or the third model, the 400 SV.”

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Georg's Miura before it became an art car

In 2000 he finally acquired an early P400. “It was built in June 1967 and they had started production only a few months earlier in April so it’s a very early example. It is number 35, which makes it a lightweight and the original colour was a red/orange called Rosso Miura. These early versions weighed only 930 kilos with 350 horsepower so for me this was enough. It’s like a bullet when you push the gas.”
   Whilst the original colour from the factory was Rosso Miura, when Georg purchased the car it was a deep red and in 2014 he had it painted back to the original colour. Fast forward to April 2020 when it was sent off for a minor cosmetic paint repair at the front of the car.
“When we went to see the repair being done, we saw that they had scraped off the top colour and we saw several colours underneath and we started thinking. My wife Christal had the idea saying ‘why don’t we take off these colours as there are so many and we can see what is there.’ I was a bit hesitant at first as I didn’t know how it would look. It might look strange and then we can’t go back.”
   Martin, who worked on the car to repair the 10cm by 10cm paint, didn’t want to scrape off the paint. He said ‘no, I will not do it’ and I asked him why, as we wanted to see how many colours were underneath. He replied ‘but now the car is perfect. I have done the work and now you destroy everything!’ and he walked away and I followed him and I said ‘we just want to see if it could you please do it for us.’ He finally agreed and used the sander on the highest setting on another panel of the car and there we saw so many colours underneath. And we said ‘keep on going’ but he didn’t want to. ‘No’ he said ‘I can’t!’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘you can’ and he did it and we saw there were approximately 22 different colours. Not everywhere as some areas only had eight to nine colours. So in total, we have now a car with 22 colours.”
This was when the project really started. Georg and Christel decided to first have the top layer of paint removed as it was the thickest part. You can see remnants of it in the rear panels and the red stripe on the bonnet.  
   The task of the paint removal was given to Martin who did it in between other work. Once that layer was removed, revealing a yellow/green shade, George set about removing layers of paint himself.
“It was trial and error. I scratched a little bit here and there to see which colour came next. The objective was to show as many colours as possible that the Miura has had in its life.
   I call it painting backwards and the risk was always when you go too fast from one colour to another. You can miss some colours, or they can disappear forever. There was no guide or anything on how to do it. Nobody could tell me to stop here or stop there.
   When you touch the paint you can feel all these hills and valleys on the surface. What I have learned is that these old colours were not based on water like today’s paints but were synthethic resin paints. So they are very powerful and very different from modern colours. The green and the yellow for example, looks like the car is glowing in the dark.
   When I finished, I realised that the combination of colours, were reminiscent of the Expressionism movement of the early 1900’s. I researched further into it and I found out there was a group in Germany called Der Blaue Reiter which included well known painters such as Vasily Kandinsky, Franz Marc and Alexej von Jawlensky. I knew their paintings as we have been to museums where their paintings were displayed. So I took screenshots of some of their paintings, and mixed them with photos of the Miura panels and I was really shocked. From a distance I could not tell which image was from the car and which image from the artists because they were so similar.”
   I asked him if he would drive the Miura on the street now. “No, no, you can’t drive it anymore. It is a one off and if somebody hits it, then it is destroyed and you can never get it back. It’s something you can’t repeat.”
   The Miura is now destined to become an art exhibit at the Technik Museum in Speyer, Germany where it will be placed on a turntable.

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“This car could have been painted by an artist. The entire vehicle conveys a striking abstract image and its various markings balance out from end to end. It’s as though a painter had wrapped a canvas around the body of the vehicle and proceeded to create a resonant image. One could make a case that this is an artwork which happens to follow the shape of a Miura and that is how I see it. The fine arts (painting) trumps the applied arts (Gandini’s design). I note that this artwork will be on display and not driven on the streets. That’s as it should be.Also, I note a reference to Andy Warhol’s painted car. He was one of a number of artists who, over the years, have been commissioned by manufacturers to paint their vehicles. Usually this is not a successful exercise, because artist and manufacturer are talking past each other.

That’s what make this Miura so exciting. The car provides the ground for a painting made by removing previous layers of colour, to startling effect. It has the spontaneity of abstract expressionism.”

Rene Gimpel
Art Dealer & Collector
Gimpel Fils

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“The Miura P400 was already a masterpiece when it rolled off the production line in 1967. The lines of Marcello Gandini are, in my opinion, are as beautiful as any piece in the Uffizi or Louvre. So to see this Miura with its 22 paint layers exposed only add to that fourth dimension - emotion - that only art can provoke.

The juxtaposed colours and shapes are reminiscent of the Psychedelic 60s graphic artists who’s designs were also to invoke movement in their forms.

It also appeals on another level as a technical illustrator my job is to expose the workings below the surface, taking a visual grinder to the object just as Georg did.

Also as a classic car car owner myself I know that we are merely custodians of these works and whilst we may not see this glorious machine on the road, to have it installed in a gallery is just as fitting.”

John Lawson
Automotive Artist

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“Whoa, what a fascinating idea and thoughtful statement. A Miura is one of the most beautiful cars ever designed. And with your presentation, it has taken on a whole new personality and the idea of deconstructive creation is indicative of how I work. Once the basic photograph takes shape, I then go in and remove whatever I can so that my vision is better expressed. Of course, I have the advantage of seeing what I’m doing. Whereas you don’t know what is going to be revealed. That is truly taking the concept to its ultimate conclusion.”

Michael Furman
Renowned Automotivc Photographer

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 Photos of some of the panels showing the years of paint. The top left and middle photo's are from a painting by vasilly kadinsky showing the similarity between his art work and the Miura

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