A rare sports car that has been engine-less for 40 years could fetch over NZ$800,000 at auction next week.
Not only is the 1969 Lamborghini Miura "S" one of only 140 ever produced, but it was gift by famous shipping magnate, the now late Aristotle Onassis, to his favourite Greek popstar of the 60s and 70s, Stamatis Kokotas.
Besides being a singer, Kokotas was an accomplished rally driver and was a keen connoisseur of fast motor cars with a fine collection in the 1970s.
Kokotas drove the car in the early 1970s and in 1972 it suffered a problem with the engine which was removed from the Miura and returned to the Lamborghini factory for repair. Engineless, the car was stored in the underground car park of the Athens Hilton and remained there until the hotel underwent reconstruction in 2003 in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games.
It was then moved to another underground garage where it has remained since. The engine, at the Lamborghini factory since it was removed in 1972, underwent a restoration, unlike the car was displayed in the factory museum until two weeks ago. This reconditioned engine is now with the car, after an absence of some 40 years but is not installed.
As a gift from one of the then world's richest and extravagant men, this is was no ordinary Miura S. The "S" stands for Spirito, or tuned, and boasted 370bhp, revised tyres, electric windows and stiffer chassis. As befitting someone like Onassis, the gifted car also had the optional air conditioning, was personalised with unique engraved alloy air vents, engraved passenger grab handle, gear lever, electric window switch and ignition switch surrounds and a highly detailed engraved steering wheel boss.
Other unique details include the exterior ''eyelash'' headlight surrounds made from alloy along with a unique grill and four extra driving lights mounted centrally below the grill.
The car will go under the hammer at the COYS True Greats Christmas auction in London next Tuesday night (NZ time) and early estimates are it will fetch £370,000 to £420,000 (NZ$720,000 to NZ$820,000).
Other important collectors' cars being auctioned at the same time include a rare 1934 Riley Imp, estimated at £70,000 to £80,000; a 1938 BMW 328 Roadster, estimated at £400,000 to £500,000, and a second fully restored Lamborghini Miura SV, estimated at £370,000 to £420,000.
Also on offer is a trio of DB Aston Martins – a DB4, DB5 and DB6 - and a beautifully restored Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster estimated at £380,000 to £480,000 and a Jaguar SS100.
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