Lamborghini Murcielago – 2001

Menacing and meticulous, raucous and refined, brutish and brilliant — the Lambo Murcielago has dominated the supercar decade in the minds of dedicated enthusiasts, for all that dozens of contenders have been clamouring for top honours.

This wide, low teardrop coupe has extraordinary styling, with the cabin completely integrated into a flowing shape that forms a continuous arc from front to back — an aerodynamic statement of performance intent that’s amply justified. Two doors scissor forwards and upwards to provide easy access to bucket seats.

The Murcielago was introduced in 2001 as the ultimate driving machine, not long after Audi’s takeover rescued the struggling Italian marque. It featured a 6.2 litre power plant coupled with a six-speed manual gearbox or optional paddle-shift version.

The Murcielago’s awesome performance was supported by clever engineering, like intakes that self-adjusted for optimum airflow and a spoiler that deployed automatically according to speed.

A special 2003 edition celebrated Lamborghini’s 40th anniversary. In 2006 the upgraded Murcielago LP640 coupe further advanced the performance cause, with a 6.5 litre engine and body tweaks to improve aerodynamic efficiency, plus an enhanced exhaust and suspension. The Thrust launch-control system was also introduced. The LP640 Roadster followed that same year, with shrewdly staggered launches that doubled the publicity impact.

Even as Lamborghini prepared a replacement for the Murcielago, the company devised a classic ‘final edition’ and ‘final final edition’ exit strategy. A limited-edition LP640 Versace, finished in black and white, appeared in 2008.

The last, spectacular flourish came in 2009 with the Murcielago LP650-4 SuperVeloce, soon followed by the Murcielago LP650-4 Roadster, a sensational style statement in graphite with orange highlights that’s sure to keep Lambo’s name on the lips of chattering petrolheads as they await the next instalment of the thrilling Lamborghini adventure.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Italy

FIRST MANUFACTURED:

2001

ENGINE:

6,192 cc or 6,494 cc 2xDOHC V12

PERFORMANCE:

With 6.5 l engine – top speed of 211 mph (340 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.4 secs

YOU SHOULD KNOW:

The expression ‘go like a bat out of hell’ may be appropriate for the murcielago (‘bat’ in Spanish) but in fact the car continues a tradition of using names associated with bullfighting – murcielago being a famous 19th-century bull with legendary courage and spirit that was spared by the matador… a rare honour.

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