In 2022, Lamborghini is celebrating 60 years of the legendary V12, the 12-cylinder engine that has been at the heart of the most powerful Lamborghini models. One of these is the Murciélago which made its debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2001, which at the time had the goal of bringing the V12 engine into the 21st century. Lamborghini was able to accomplish this in the most extraordinary way by giving the 6.2-liter engine a maximum power output of 580 HP. At the time, it was considered to be extremely high, especially since the use of the large catalytic converters meant that the car had to be approved in all world markets even in the market with the strictest rules in terms of emissions.
For the first time, Lamborghini used the CAD-CAM system when to design what would end up being the Murciélago. The system guarantees the highest level of precision and gives a higher quality of assembly and finish. A new design department, the Lamborghini Centro Stile was completely responsible for the look of the Murciélago, under the direction of Luc Donckerwolke who already had the prestige of the redesign of the Diablo under his belt. For the Murciélago, however, he was given the privilege of starting the design from scratch for both the bodywork and the interior.
12-Cylinder Engine Evolution
When the Murciélago was first created it was just a hard-top version with a 6.2-liter engine that can produce 580 HP at 7200 rpm. Due to the dry-sump lubrication, the engine of the Murciélago had to be placed five centimeters lower compared to the Diablo’s engine. It had a maximum speed of 330 kph, and can accelerate from 0 to 100 kph in just 3.8 seconds.
In 2004, a roadster version was also introduced. Formally known as the Murciélago LP 640-4 (for both the closed and roadster models), the second-generation models made their debut in 2007 and stayed in production still powered by the V12 though the power was increased to 640 HP at 8000 rpm until 2010.
The Murciélago LP 650-4 Roadster was introduced in 2010. It had a manually attached soft top, powered by a 6.5-liter engine that can produce 650 HP at 8000 rpm. In 2009-2010, the 670-4 SV (Super Veloce) was introduced, which can produce 670 HP and a maximum speed of 341 kph. It was also 100 kg lighter as it used carbon fiber material in a number of components.
With the system directly borrowed from the Diablo, all Murciélago models are all-wheel drive. The Ferguson viscous coupling differential can distribute torque to the rear at a maximum of 70% and the front at 30%. At the time, the carbon fiber undercarriage mixed with aluminum was the most rigid supporting structure that Lamborghini has produced. They also completely changed the chassis, giving it new suspension and geometry.
The Murciélago was the last Lamborghini V12 that was given a mechanical transmission, specifically a six-speed mechanical transmission with reverse. Eventually, the manual transmission was complemented by an electronic automated transmission with gear sequence through levels placed behind the steering wheel.
In 2004, under the banner of the FIA and the ACO for the Japanese championship, the Murciélago made its debut on the tracks with the R-GT model specifically developed for the GT World Championship. Nine rear-wheel drive cars were produced and they were all significantly lighter compared to their road going counterparts as Lamborghini produced the car completely out of carbon fiber materials, and equipped it with larger tires and brakes.
The Legendary Name
Traditionally, the names of Lamborghini models are taken from the world of bullfighting. The word Murciélago is the Spanish word for “bat”, and legend has it that a bull with this name survived the bullring and was gifted to Don Antonio Miura. This animal was said to have been the father of the Miura bulls. To be fair, there is no evidence supporting this legend, and there are also some inconsistencies with the timeline.
There were some limited series Murciélago that was released starting from 2003 when they celebrated the Automobili Lamborghini’s 40th Anniversary with a limited run of 50 units. This 40th Anniversary model can be distinguished by their special “Verde Artemis” color, revamped wheel rims, external carbon fiber details, upgraded exhaust, and a numbered plate positioned inside the specially designed leather upholstered cockpit.
In 2006, the Murciélago LP 640 Versace made its debut, and it was available in only two colors: black and white. Lamborghini Ad Personam and Versace designers worked together to create a special design, with a two-tone interior and a set of luggage to match, which were also made by Versace. Versace also released some special accessories like a scarf and driving shoes – with Versace branding – that had a design that was complementary to the model.
Exclusively for the Chinese market, Lamborghini released just 10 units of the 670-4 SV “China Limited Edition”. It sets itself apart by the distinct stripe running along the hood and roof.
Speed Record at Nardo
In February 2002, Lamborghini went to a test track in Nardo, Puglia to have the Murciélago attempt set a new world speed record by a standard production car. Then test driver and current Head of Lamborghini Squadra Corse Giorgio Sanna drove the car to accomplish the goal. Though there was an unexpected tire change during the fuel stop, Sanna was able to travel 305.048 km (189.55 miles) in one hour with an average speed of 325.98 kph (202.55 mph) during the fastest lap. Sanna was also able to break the over 100 km and 100 mile records.
Murciélago on the Silver Screen
The Murciélago has also been featured in a number of films and music videos. One of the most famous appearances was in 2005 in Batman Begins starring Christian Bale, where it was shown to be used as Bruce Wayne/Batman’s personal car. Even video games were not spared from the popularity of the Murciélago as it has been featured in Gran Turismo 7, Asphalt 7, Drive Curb, Forza Horizon (versions 1-2-3-4), and Horizon Chase.
Before the end of 2022, the “pure” Lamborghini V12 combustion engine in its final form will go out of production after they have rolled out the last Aventador “Ultimae”. Starting next year, the Aventador will be powered by a new plug-in hybrid version of the V12 engine.