Bat Out of Hell:
"Murcielago" is Spanish--not Italian--for "bat." It was named after a Spanish fighting bull who showed such courage in the ring that he was spared death at the hands of the matador. Murcielago went on to father the Miura (sound familiar, Lamborghini fans?) line of bulls. The Lamborghini Murcielago automobile debuted in 2001, with the cryptic "LP640" tacked onto its name. The LP stands for "longitudinale posteriore," which is the mid-engine position of the V12, which has--you guessed it--640 hp. The Lamborghini Murcielago was available in coupe and convertible configurations until its demise in 2011.
It's All in the Numbers:
The stats for the Lamborghini Murcielago, big brother of the Lamborghini Gallardo and heir of the Diablo, were impressive: 6.5-liter, 48-valve aluminum V12 generating 640 hp. The six-speed transmission was available as a traditional manual or as an automated manual, and the car was all-wheel drive for traction and control. All of this added up to a top speed of 211 mph, and a 0-62 time of 3.4 seconds by its final incarnation, slightly up from its original 2001 debut.
Totally Different from the Gallardo:
Okay, not really. It takes a trained eye to be able to spot the differences between a Lamborghini Murcielago and a Gallardo passing you on the highway. They both have angular, sloped noses and lower-than-low stances. The easiest way to tell them apart is near the back wheels, where the air intakes are. On the Murcielago, the openings are small and low, while on the Gallardo, they're vertical and long. The bottom sill of the side windows on the Gallardo are curved, while the Murcielago's windows lead straight back to a pair of cowls.
The Versace Variation:
The Lamborghini Murcielago got a facelift in 2006, halfway through its ten-year life cycle. That year, Lambo teamed with Italian fashion house Versace to create a special-edition 'Lago coupe in white with custom black and white leather seats. In 2008, Versace gave the Murcielago roadster the same treatment, this time including a line of accessories to match (luggage, driving shoes, hat, jeans). The door panels and seat surfaces feature a snippet of Versace's "Greek key" motif, and a plaque inside declares to the world that the leather was stitched by Gianni Versace couture.
Economic Down What?:
Though the Lamborghini Murcielago was already spendy, the suits in Sant'Agata saw fit to up its price for 2009 by more than $25,000, even though there were no major changes to the car. The base level (if you can even call a mid-engine V12 wrapped in Italian design "base level") was set at $350,000. Options could take the price up to about $380,000. The cost of gas might not be a concern for people paying that much for a car, but for the record, the Murcielago made the EPA's bottom ten for mileage several years running, with 9 mpg city and 14 mph highway.
SuperVeloce and Special-Edition Roadster:
In winter 2009, Lamborghini announced two new variants on the Murcielago: the SuperVeloce and the LP 650-4 roadster. The SuperVeloce went on a diet, with 220 lbs removed from chassis, engine, interior -- everywhere possible. The horsepower, meanwhile, was upped to 670, and the top speed lifted to 212 mpg. The giant rear wing was optional. The roadster had a more modest 10 hp increase over the "standard" edition, with the same top speed and 0-60 times, which was still plenty fast. The limited-edition roadster came in distinctive dark gray and orange livery with a clear engine cover.