Jane Weitzmann tells Ally Campbell what life with a Miura S is really like
All eyes turn to follow her as she passes by. Every curve seduces. Her sultry sound bewitches. The unmistakable scent of her high octane perfume lingers long after she disappears from sight. But once seen, she can never be forgotten. “I think the reaction from people is always quite astounding, because she is such a beautiful car.” Jane Weitzmann has owned her bright green Lamborghini Miura S for 15 years and even in rural Hertfordshire where every second car is a Bentley or blinged-up Range-Rover, the appearance of her 1968 super car puts a smile on the face of everyone she passes.
“My pet hate is that far too many beautiful cars go into collections and never see the light of day, and nobody gets to enjoy them.” says Jane, in one of the garages that houses her extraordinary collection. The Miura S is one of two Lamborghini’s in her collection, the other being the outrageous LM002, a car that Lamborghini’s test driver Valentino Balboni describes as “the original SUV.” Each vehicle in Jane’s 30-strong collection has a story to tell, and the Miura comes with impressive provenance.
In Lamborghini enthusiast circles it has become known as the “Twiggy Miura” thanks to some famous images of the iconic 1960’s supermodel pictured with this iconic 1960’s supercar. “Within a year of being imported she was owned by Twiggy’s manager, Justin De Villeneuve. She has been pictured sat in this car, and on it, and when I say ‘on it’, she was sat on the roof!” The car was also owned by Formula One mogul, Bernie Ecclestone before Jane and Henry Weitzmann acquired it in 2000. “Sadly my husband was ill, and had taken early retirement on health grounds. That was his dream car. It was the car he had on a poster on the wall as a youngster. He saw it for sale, so he bought it, loved it and enjoyed it.”
“When we bought this car, she was in beautiful condition. She’d had a lot of work done not too long before.” That work was a total rebuild back at Lamborghini’s factory in Sant’ Agata Bolognese, Italy, after it had been badly damaged while in for work at a specialist in 1990. “Miura’s are prone to catch fire, and she was having some work done when a car next to her caught fire, and the centre tub was pretty much burnt out. She went back to the Lamborghini factory and was completely rebuilt at a cost of £120,000 which in 1990 was a substantial sum… but very well worth it!”
Since owning the car, Jane has had it resprayed to bring its lustre back, and has only made improvements that will prolong the usable life of the car. “The only thing we’ve had to do to her was upgrade the cooling system. As soon as you were caught in traffic she started to overheat, so there are now two big fans at the front, and because Miura’s are renowned for going up in flames, with their fuel lines (and ours were starting to leak slightly), they’ve been replaced. But that’s it.”
Having put around 20-25,000 miles on the clock, this classic Lamborghini gets more use than most. “The Miura is an absolute joy to drive. I wouldn’t say she’s particularly easy, she’s fairly heavy. In the Summer she get’s fairly hot, and in the Winter absolutely freezing, because she doesn’t really have a heater that does anything!” But Jane forgives these foibles, insisting “she’s just a joy. You’ve got that panorama out the front, which is glorious. The only thing you have to be careful with on motorways, is the fact that she doesn’t have wing mirrors, so when it comes to overtaking, you’ve really got to be very aware of what’s around you. But whatever it is, it’s all worth while, because it is just an absolute delight. And she makes a lovely noise.”
The transverse mounted V12 engine sits directly behind the two seats, visible through a glass divide. It is simply not possible to get any closer to the action. Never one to abuse her cars, Jane keeps the unique power-train in top condition with a simple but effective discipline. “As with all classics, the main thing is to let them thoroughly warm up before you set off. It’s a disaster if you don’t. You have to make sure they have plenty of time to warm up before you get going, and that’s really all I have to do with her.”
If the reaction to seeing the car is one of awe and envy, the reaction to seeing Jane behind the wheel can be just as startling. “The fact that a woman gets out, driving it, tends to make them look up and think ‘Good gracious!’ I was down at the Haynes Motor Museum and there were two guys admiring her in the car park, and when I came back and got into her, you could see the shocked, stunned look on their faces.”
A car enthusiast from a young age, it is easy to see that Jane is still enchanted by the machinery around her. “We have a lot of rare and quirky cars. That’s the ethos behind the collection. Anything that’s unusual.” She enjoys sharing the experience of her cars with others, and uses most of the collection to help raise money for charity.
“We do a lot of charitable stuff with the cars, mostly through the Sporting Bears.” Jane explains. At various club events, Jane gives passenger rides for a minimum donation to charity. For the Miura that would typically be around £100 “We get to show off our cars, enjoy driving them, and people get to go in cars they would otherwise never have an opportunity to go in. It’s a great, great thing, and we’ve raised well over £1 million in the last 20 years.”
Jane has been a member of the club for many years, and a club trophy has been set up in her late husband’s name. The Henry Weitzmann Trophy is presented each year at the Classic Car Show to an “unsung hero” – a member of the club who works tirelessly to help the club run smoothly. “My husband was quite a shy man and liked to work in the background, so they set up that trophy to give to other people who work in the background for the Sporting Bears – not the stars of the show, prancing about in the flash cars, but the people who are marshaling the traffic, taking the bookings and taking the money. It’s a lovely memory to have of him.”
And what is the trophy? Well, it’s a mounted 1:18 scale model of a bright green Lamborghini Miura.
With thanks to Jane Weitzmann. To see Jane’s full collection visit http://www.jhwclassics.com.