Story by Guy Anderson
Photos by Author unless otherwise noted
In the early 1980s there were rumors of a 1972 Miura SV sitting in the desert near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. It was also rumored that the Miura SV had sustained minor body damage in Lebanon then shipped to U.A.E with only 4K kilometers showing.
There was also talk of a black BB512 carburetor version, a Countach S, and perhaps a Porsche turbo. Rumors were that Aston Martin Lagondas and more could be found at or near the same location. I didn’t have much to go on but I did have a telephone number.
The temptation for an exotic car dealer was just too powerful to resist, so I scheduled a trip to Europe to visit my Belgium buddy Michel Kruch. I was already making trips to Europe on a regular basis to find and buy specialty cars. I learned to call and prepare friends for my arrival in order to have someone that could help interpret French, Dutch or German to English. I knew everyone speaks and understands English in Belgium but sometimes they prefer not to make that known. It’s a game that is great fun to play if you have an interpreter.
Prior to leaving the States on this treasure hunt, I called the owner of the damaged Miura in the Middle East. I spoke to him wondering if we could come to terms on the Lamborghini Miura SV and the Ferrari BB512. The owner said he would welcome my visit. I requested pictures of the Miura and at that time the quickest way to send the photographs was via the fax machine. I received photos of the Miura SV but the details were hard to interpret in the grey fax transmission.
There’s a nine hour time difference between Atlanta, Georgia and the U.A.E. This made it much harder to connect with the owner by phone. The owner’s name was George, he spoke with a distinct accent that was easy to follow and understand. George spoke slowly, clearly, and with a deep voice incorporating a “hum” as an affirmation. I can best describe the ‘hum’ as an “OK” or a ‘Yeah’ that was often heard after my questions. Despite his good English, it was clear I had to travel to the Middle East to meet George to secure the package of exotic cars.
I boarded a flight from Atlanta to Brussels, Belgium. The flight was a night flight with the arrival in Belgium at 9 am European time. Michel picked me up at the airport and I began to tell him about needing to go to The U.A.E. for some exotic cars. Michel has never traveled to that part of the world and so he would “take some information” on how and what to do.
“We collected our luggage and proceeded to customs to be cleared into the Emirates. I was first in line and as soon as the agents opened my bag there was pandemonium. The customs agents began waving their hands and yelling in Arabic. I didn’t know what was happening but this could not be good.”
Michel discovered that we were required to obtain local sponsors to enter into the U.A.E. We needed someone or a company with offices located in the U.A.E. to apply for a business visa on our behalf. The company or individual would have to guarantee our conduct while we are in the Emirates. This is a part of the world that did not accept tourism at that time.
What seemed like a really cool treasure hunt just one day prior, was now bordering on the impossible. With faxed pictures of the Lamborghini Miura SV in hand, I was even more determined to get this damaged low mileage Miura SV.
It was 1984 and there were no computers, no G.P.S. and no cell phones. If you wanted information, you had to call 00 on your phone, (land line or pay phone) then ask for the international operator. If you were interested in making something like this happen you need to be patient and try everything to get thru to your party. Then there was the cost, billed by the minute.
Finally, after several days, Michel located an acquaintance that was making regular trips to the Middle East. He was born in the Middle East and worked throughout Europe. He offered sponsorship thru his company. He told us that “This is a part of the world where you don’t want problems.” Since his company was going to sponsor us, he had to meet me and issue both Michel and I the warnings of what to do and what not to do. The information had us both wondering what was to come. As with all of these types of meetings, some things were left unsaid and could result in consequences.
A few days later, a telex arrived with our 10 day business visa. The visa had to be linked to the flight in and out. So, Michel and I booked two round trip non-stop tickets from Brussels, Belgium to Abu Dhabi. My goal was to buy the Miura SV, the Ferrari BB 512, and perhaps a Turbo Porsche. Michele’s goal was to locate and buy some Italian-made Riva boats along with some classic European cars.
We arrived in Abu Dhabi where the airport was spectacular. We collected our luggage and proceeded to customs to be cleared into the Emirates. I was first in line and as soon as the agents opened my bag there was pandemonium. The customs agents began waving their hands and yelling in Arabic. I didn’t know what was happening but this could not be good. More agents converged on my bag and the chatter became more intense. I finally heard and understood in English “Blue Material”. So, I thought, what in the world is blue material? I looked at Michel and he changed colors on me. He was looking quite pale. Michel was speechless and frozen in place as this mayhem progressed.
The Abu Dhabi customs agents ushered me into a room next to the exit portal. One agent reopened my luggage and pointed to a magazine. One of the agents said in English; “Why do you have this? This is blue material. This is illegal here!”
Next in Part: 2 The fun has just begun!