Still kicking after taking dozens of sword strokes, the fighting bull inspired the crowd to plea for its life way back in 1879. So goes the lore behind the Murcielago name, which Lamborghini took from the famous fighting bull and applied to its new V12 hypercar when it debuted in 2001. Whether or not the story is true, it shows how special the new model was. The company’s first offering since being acquired by Audi, the company knew that the Murcielago would be under extensive scrutiny by all who were given the chance to drive it. Had the fighting bull been neutered by its German bosses or did it still retain that special recipe that made Lambos so special?
Produced from 2001 to 2010, the Murcielago slots in between the Diablo and the Aventador in the lineage of flagship V12 Lamborghinis. Controlled via a 6-speed gated manual transmission, that 6.2-litre V12 put out a word-conquering 571 bhp back in the early 2000s. That’s nearly 60 more horses than the 575M Maranello’s V12 of the same era could muster, although the soon-to-be-released Enzo would quickly surpass anything else on the road with its 660-bhp powerplant. Helping the Murcielago put all of that power down without losing traction was a four-wheel-drive system that directed 70% of the torque to the rear wheels. The performance figures were impressive, with 62 mph arriving in just 3.8 seconds, and a top speed of 205 mph. To underscore the vehicle’s reliability, a random Murcielago was picked from the assembly line and driven at over 200 miles per hour for 100 miles straight, setting a record for a production vehicle.
It’s not just the performance that was astounding, though. To this day, the Murcielago looks like something from the future. Its sleek, angular bodywork is something that only Lamborghini could come up with, a testament to Audi’s mostly hands-off approach in allowing the Italian manufacturer to build its new car. So, did this approach carry through to the rest of the car’s personality? Well, the consensus opinion once reviewers got their hands on it was that the new V12 Lambo was more conservative and logical than the Diablo and Countach before it, but only slightly. It appears that, in addition to world-class performance, Audi had imbued the Murcielago with just enough German good sense to add to its appeal without destroying the Italian charm; a perfect blending of styles.
Images Copyright of RM Sotheby’s