Lamborghini Murcielago / LP640 Review & Buyers Guide
Back in 2001, Lamborghini needed to create a successor to their ever popular Diablo. Their new car needed to be the flagship of the company, one that would carry on the automakers legacy in an age of ever improving engineering and technology. Also at that moment in time something big was happening behind the scenes for the automaker as automotive giant Audi acquired the company back in 1998 along with Bentley and Bugatti.
Their upcoming car would be the first new design in eleven years and the very first since their acquisition by Audi. Needless to say the pressure was on for Lamborghini to bring something to market that the world had never seen before. After nearly five years of planning and design Lamborghini was ready to roll out their newest masterpiece, the Murcielago.
The car was named after a legendary bull who when matched with famous matador Rafael “El Lagartiojo” Molina Sanchez in 1879, received 24 sword strokes without succumbing to them, leading to an incredibly rare outcome in which the matador chose to spare the bulls life.
Since Lamborghini has a tradition of naming its vehicles after notable circumstances within the bullring it is no surprise that they have chosen Murcielago as the name for their newest bull. One that embodied the spirit and passion both the automaker and the bull share.
The power plant of the Murcielago is a naturally aspirated 6.2 litre V12 producing 572 hp. This engine speeds the car from 0-60 mph in a rapid 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 205 mph. Lamborghini has been utilizing V12’s to power their dream machines since the 60’s with the introduction of their very first car, the 350GT. Although the V12 engine does have a rich history, it has been heavily modernized over the years to fit the Murcielagos performance needs. In later editions of the Murcielago LP640, the V12 was increased to a 6.5 litre displacement upping the power to 631 hp. Drivers can also expect to see around 8-9 mpg of fuel consumption around town and 13-14 mpg out on the highway.
Although the Murcielago is a large car, the driving experience makes it feel smaller than it really is. Perhaps with Audi taking over the company the ease of the experience of driving a Murcielago is surprising. Considering the long wheel base, weight, and low slung body of this car, it doesn’t feel unmanageable to drive. At low speed the Murcielago is in fact very easy to handle and at higher speeds provides a sense of stability and safety. Braking and steering are very responsive and allow the driver a bit more confidence when pushing the car in the turns. The steering feels light but not fragile and the brakes don’t seem to make the car unstable under harder braking. Later the Murcielago would see massive improvements in braking with carbon ceramic brakes, making the older models braking system seem less developed in comparison.
The independent double wishbone suspension does a great job of managing the cars weight of 3,470 lbs and features adjustable dampeners to fit any drivers particular tastes. Lamborghini have also done lots of work on the weight distribution of this car by putting 42% at the front and 58% at the back. This distribution of weight allows for a small amount of oversteer under harder driving but is still easily manageable.
The driver-centric interior cabin of this car is a stunning example of the influence of their parent company Audi. The design of the centre console is a simple yet elegant one as everything you need is in reach. It feels organized as where previous Lamborghini’s sometimes felt rushed or compromised. The cabin also does a great job of sound insulation muffling wind and road noise yet still somehow allows the driver to hear the sweet sound of the mighty V12. Cars equipped with E-Gear transmission have Corsa mode that enables the Murcielago to shift even faster while also allowing the driver to stay in gear even until red line without automatically shifting up a gear. Rev-matching will also occur when downshifting along with a matching exhaust note on the blip.
One special characteristic of the Murcielago is the fact that it is available in a manual transmission as well as E-gear, Lamborghini’s single clutch automatic system. At that time, technology for paddle shift transmissions was in its earlier stages and to only offer the automatic would be an inferior choice. Later models had an upgraded version of E-gear that worked more efficiently and had less stress on the internal components.
The new design shows a massive leap in styling from the Diablo without losing too much of that classic Lamborghini lunacy. It’s inspiration is not lost in the new design leaving the Murcielago looking extreme, edgy, and completely captivating. Lamborghini outdid themselves once again as the later LP640 had many of the body lines receive a facelift. In addition to all that is the sheer amount of attention the Murcielago gets while driving around town. Not everyone is up on the latest supercars and very often people are surprised to learn this cars age, which is a testament to the incredible job the designers at Lamborghini did on the Murcielago.
The front of the vehicle has a sharp angular hood and front bumper fitted with twin air scoops to provide ample cooling to the massive carbon ceramic brakes. The headlights also echo the sharp angle of the cars overall design and provide an aggressive poise. Lamborghini has also fitted a button which allows the front of the car to be raised to clear speed bumps and other road going obstacles. This hydraulic system works by utilizing the power steering fluid.
Along the sides of the vehicle is an asymmetrical design feature unique to the Murcielago which on one side houses a massive oil cooling vent, while on the opposite side the body paneling continues over the void enhancing the cars aerodynamics. The body of the Murcielago is predominantly carbon fibre with the exception of the roof and doors which are made from steel. The air vents to cool the mighty V12 deploy upwards just behind the side windows after reaching a certain speed. Alternatively they can be deployed by pressing a button in the centre console on later models.
In the middle of the car you have the engine bay encased in carbon fibre which can be viewed from the optional plexiglass window. Towards the rear is the aggressive looking exhaust and diffuser which channels the air out of the back of the car adding to the overall stability of the car.
Common Problems and Issues
No car on the planet is exempt from flaws, not even the Murcielago. Lamborghini has done their best to make a safe, reliable, and functioning car, but sometimes things just don’t turn out the way they should because, after all, this is an Italian hand-built car. Because of the extreme performance of this vehicle, an owner can expect to see very specific problems due to component stress. But every car is different and it is always advisable to seek the cars history and to get a PPI prior to purchasing.
The E-gear system found in the Murcielago can be problematic for a number of reasons. The technology itself at the time of the Murcielagos launch was not highly developed as mentioned before. The E-Gear system relies heavily on a single clutch which means that clutch replacements can costs you upwards of $10,000 every 15,000 miles from an independent shop. Parts are actually reasonable, but the high price is in labor costs because the engine must come out in order to be able to replace the clutch.
The system does not perform well in areas in which the car is on an incline, even moderate ones. Using the reverse gear on an incline is even harder for the transmission to handle. The E-Gear transmission will try to modulate the clutch engagement with the throttle input, but because of the lack of finesse as exhibited by real people, this will simply burn and wear down the clutch.
The mechanical actuator in the E-Gear system has been a wide spread issue as well with these vehicles and are often the source for transmissions not shifting into gear. Owners have noted that this costly repair can sometimes reach above $20,000.
These issues are most common in 2004-2006 models. By contrast, later E-Gear, specifically starting in 2009 as seen in the LP640, were much more dialed in and significantly better.
The brake switch for E-Gear Murcielagos can also lead to issues as faulty switches will tell the cars computer that the brake pedal is being pushed when it’s not. Conversely it will sometimes read that the brake is not being pushed when it actually is. This problem essentially freezes the transmission making the driver unable to change gears at all which can lead to costly towing and repair bills.
The part itself is a cheap one to replace and many owners are known to carry a spare in the car for emergency situations where the component fails.
Hydraulic Front Suspension
Issues with the suspension seem to be common among the Murcielagos, most notably the 2002-2004 models. Other than some wear and tear, one thing people are not used to is the raising of the front end of the car. This system works by utilizing the power steering fluid, and although it works well, there is some words of wisdom that go along with its operation.
Firstly, one must allow the car to create a proper vacuum so the hydraulics can work effectively in raising the front end of the car. If the driver does not allow the vehicle to run for a minimum of 30 seconds at startup there is an insufficient vacuum generated which can cause problems for the effectiveness of the hydraulic system.
Secondly, the suspension should always be lowered back down into its normal resting position. Many people will park there cars overnight forgetting that the suspension has been raised putting unnecessary stress on the components for an extended period of time. This stress will ultimately lead to problems with seals on the hydraulics and possible leakage of power steering fluid which will in turn effect the steering and performance of the vehicle.
Roadster Roof Installation
While not a problem per se, the soft top roadster may prove to be troublesome for the owner as the design is quite poor. The soft top is comprised of waterproof material and tubular rigging and is stored compactly in the front of the car. When taken out, the temporary roof should sit along two bars which connect from the windshield to behind the seats on the pillars.
Even if you can manage to figure out how to install it, the outcome is less than satisfactory. The design of the roof itself seems to be an afterthought for Lamborghini and is popularly hated by nearly everyone who has had the ordeal of its attempted installation. Therefore, the Roadster seems to be more fitting in warm southern climates where the repetitious installation of this roof system can be avoided.
Older Murcielagos have been known to have a common surging idle problem where the software that runs the throttle bodies becomes out of sync causing jumps in RPM’s when the car is at idle. This problem has caused a lot of worry for Murcielago owners, but can be fixed by updating the LDAS software reconfiguring the timing of the throttle bodies. Because these throttle bodies need adjustment via software this problem often gets taken care of by a technician. Throttle bodies can also be physically checked in the event that a simple cleaning may fix the issue.
Thankfully the Murcielago doesn’t use a belt for this, instead the engineers at Lamborghini have opted to use chain for the job. The adjustment of these chains is one issue that needs almost constant attention as they tend to go out of sync semi-regularly. Check engine lights, unresponsive acceleration, and idle rattling are common symptoms that come from an out of sync timing chain.
Seals and Gaskets
Cars that have sat for long periods of time or exhibit low miles may have seals and gaskets that have deteriorated or hardened. This will cause oil leaks on the underside of the car. Low miles is not always the best so ensure your mechanic inspecting the car also looks for this.
2002 and 2003 Murcielago used defective coil packs that allowed water to leak and cause corrosion to spark plugs and coil packs. This resulted in engine misfire, unstable RPM, and weak spark. Fortunately, aftermarket options are available for as low as $1,200.
There have also been a number of recalls regarding the Murcielago. In 2010 Lamborghini issued a recall for a set of vehicles built in 2006 and 2008 when they had discovered that the sloshing of fuel back and forth in the fuel tank accompanied by a vertical vibration would dislodge the fuel pump support inside the tank itself causing a leak of fuel. This translates into a costly repair, but even more alarming is the leaking of fuel can cause fire, which a number of Murcielagos have already met their fate by.
In addition, another recall was posted in 2013 concerning the carbon ceramic brakes of the Murcielago coupe and roadsters. It seemed that the stainless steel screws that fixed the rotors to their mounting points can fail due to corrosion and exposure to inclement weather and road salt. It was said that if eight of the ten screws fail the stopping distance of the vehicle would be greatly affected.
Both of these recalls were only issued for cars in a certain VIN range and should be checked before purchase.
Maintenance and Cost of Ownership
Regular maintenance costs can vary greatly, especially when it comes to how many miles you plan to put on the car annually. But overall you should expect to see annual costs between $1,500 on the low end up to $10,000 on the high end.
Oil Change – $450
Battery Replacement – $400
Replacement Clutch – $5,000 up to $9,000 (depending on material and transmission)
Brake Fluid Flush – $200
Four Wheel Alignment – $400
Annual Service – $1,200
- Check and inspect clutch wear (E-Gear Only)
- Flush & replace engine oil and filter
- Inspect tires
- Visually inspect front & rear suspension, check torque is correct
- Inspect brakes, calipers, connections, rotors & pads
- Check warning light efficiency of all lighting systems
- Inspect brake pedal clearance and handbrake adjustment
- Visually inspect the condition of the underbody chassis and protected areas
- Inspect safety belts for proper working condition
- Check battery, connections & charging system
- Inspect alternator & A/C drive belts
- Check engine management system (LDAS) for stored errors & proper software version
- Inspect all emissions equipment and verify correct monitoring status
Major Service – $3,500 (All of the above plus the following)
- Flush & replace front differential oil
- Flush & replace gearbox oil
- Inspect and top off E-Gear fluid
- Flush & replace brake fluid
- Replace spark plugs
- Inspect and top off of cooling system
- Replace in-cabin A/C air filters
Keep in mind these prices are in USD and are estimated amounts based off independent shop pricing. Expect significant increase if going to the dealer. If you find yourself in a circumstance where you need to replace or fix a major component of the car expect to see the costs easily hit five figures. A job where the engine and transmission need to be removed can hit six-figures fast if multiple problems are found.
When you are buying a car that is at such a high level of engineering, it will of course take highly specialized equipment and parts to maintain. Technicians are also specially trained to repair these vehicles since they work in such a particular way. To ensure the proper working condition of these vehicles all measures should be taken. Running the risk of purchasing and installing off brand parts can have a drastic outcome for the mechanical well being of this car.
Murcielago Model Year Differences
2002 brought the first batch of the Murcielagos into the world, there were 424 units made available that year. Options for buyers to customize their cars were very limited and only paint color, interior color, interior leather stitching, and accent colours. Your only transmission option is manual.
In 2003, Lamborghini brought forth a limited edition version of the Murcielago of which 50 were made, known as the 40th Anniversary Edition models. These limited edition models would be painted in a spectacular shade of blue known as Verde Artemis “Jade-Green”.
In addition to that the models received exterior carbon fibre details throughout, upgraded grey anthracite wheels with matching calipers, a newly designed exhaust system, and two plaques (one exterior and one interior) which label the models as 40th anniversary editions.
The interior of this car is unique in that it features an asymmetrical aesthetic design with the drivers seat being finished with Grigio Syrius (dark grey) leather and the passenger seat in black leather. Specially designed floor mats boasting the 40th anniversary logo can also be found as well as a central Alpine head unit with built in CD player. Some models even feature satellite navigation and if that wasn’t enough, these special editions also come with a personalized certificate of ownership and exclusive carbon fibre luggage located in the front of the car.
Otherwise, all other Murcielagos were identical to 2002 models.
In 2004, Lamborghini finally introduced the E-gear transmission for the Murcielago following the parallel launch of the little brother, the Gallardo.
2005 brought more significant developments for the model as the Roadster version became available to buyers. Although this new model would allow drivers to cruise with the top down, it maintained the same weight as the coupe model. Improvements such as bigger brake calipers, and optional satellite navigation, clear engine cover window, and carbon fibre interior were also put forward that year. There was also the introduction of a new wheel design, the Hercules, as found on the Murcielago Roadster.
2006 was more of the same with the car’s available options growing further with carbon ceramic brakes and carbon fibre structural bracing.
The biggest change came in 2007 when Lamborghini turned up the heat with a complete overhaul of the existing model and created the Murcielago LP640. This brand new design would bump engine displacement up from 6.2l to 6.5l and would be immediately be offered as a coupe or a roadster.
Top speed has jumped to 219 mph from 205 mph and aesthetic facelifts could be seen throughout the new model. Revised front and rear bumpers now portray a more aggressive and streamlined look. A new single outlet exhaust system replaced the twin tip design found on the older Murcielago. New Hermera wheels were also introduced on the LP640. Perhaps the biggest difference were the new LED tail lights that immediately made the Murcielago look dated.
Newly modified suspension, an upgraded e-gear clutch, and launch control meant the LP640 delivered a more vigorous and exciting driving experience. There was even more interior headroom now with two extra inches and even an upgraded stereo system.
Lamborghini have also made the LP640 available in a special limited Versace Edition which boasts stunning custom two-tone interior leather and stitching work, trunk luggage, numbered plaques, and interior graphics.
For 2008, Lamborghini issued that they would increase the warranty of these vehicles from two years to three years still with an unlimited amount of mileage across the board. This meant more security for buyers with coverage against any failures in manufacturing the first production years of the new LP640.
2009 saw minor cosmetic options become available which included a clear plexiglass window to the engine and a factory backup camera system. Lamborghini would also offer an optional matte finish on their exterior paint jobs for colors blue, white, black, and brown. Most importantly though, the Murcielago would now receive carbon ceramic brakes as standard equipment, no longer costing the owner the additional $15,000.
Finally in 2010, Lamborghini decided to end production of the Murcielago in anticipation of the release of the Aventador, but not before releasing two more special editions to their available collection.
The first being a leaner and meaner track version called the LP670-4 Superveloce. This lightweight version dropped 220 lbs from its former version and featured a massive optional rear wing and extensive modification to the front and rear bumper that increased downforce and stability. Carbon fibre was heavily utilized to bring weight down and that included the sport bucket seats. A lighter exhaust system has also helped to keep the weight down. Modified valve timing and a newly designed intake system are the source of the Superveloces new found power giving the car 661bhp and 487lb/ft of torque in total. Only 350 of these were made and a handful in manual transmission.
The second limited edition would come in the form of a Roadster, known as the LP650-4 Roadster . This version offers up a 6.5 litre V12 engine making 650bhp, giving this car a 0-60 time of only 3.4 seconds thanks to the utilization of the all-wheel drive system. Only 50 of these would be available to the world each a striking Grigio Telesto grey and orange color scheme which can be found throughout the cars design. From the orange calipers, bumpers, and number plating to the orange stitched handbrake bag and shift paddles the attention to detail makes the interior of the LP650-4 a great place to be.
Very few regular LP640s were manufactured for this year.
Murcielago Available Options
Lamborghini had no shortage of available options for both the Murcielago and the LP640. Starting with the exterior you have all the usual choices such as coupe or roadster, exterior paint color, wheel and tire configuration. Lamborghini went further to add a level of customization as to offer clear plexiglass engine bonnet, carbon ceramic brakes, rear view camera, exhaust tips, spoiler, and painted brake calipers.
The interior options are even more creative as Lamborghini offers luggage color, leather or alcantara suede finishes, headliner material, bucket seats, leather stitching and piping color choices and a whole host of others including practical options like satellite navigation or an upgraded stereo system and head unit.
Lamborghini have essentially included the buyer in the design process and gave them as many options as possible so as to further enhance the connection between man and machine. With so many possible combinations of options, no two Murcielagos are alike, so there is most certainly a number of Murcielagos out there that you can hand select to be your very own.
While this is not a comprehensive list, here are some of the options that were available for the LP640 and retail pricing:
Matte Brown/White/Black Exterior Paint – $28,000
Carbon Fiber Interior Trim Package (carbon fiber trim on doors, dashboard, center floor console, additional interior locations, luxury carbon fiber look trim on shifter skirt) – $8,450
Titanium Fiber Interior Trim Package (titanium fiber trim on center console, dashboard, additional interior locations) – $6,500
Klavierlack Piano Black Interior Trim Package (piano black luxury trim on center console, dashboard, additional interior locations) – $2,600
Branding Package (badging on dashboard, headrests, wheels) – $650
Smoking Package (front ashtray, cigar lighter) – $325
Transparent Engine Cover – $7,020
Carbon Ceramic Brakes with Yellow/Gray/Orange Brake Calipers – $920
Hercules Titanium-colored Aluminum Wheels – $1,690
Hermera Aluminum Wheels W/ci Badge – $4,700
Hermera Shiny Black Aluminum Wheels W/ci Badge – $6,390
Hermera Titanium-colored Matte-finish Aluminum Wheels W/ci Badge – $6,390
Ci Badge For Hercules Wheels – $400
Pirelli Pzero Corsa Sport Tires – $4,550
Navigation System – $3,250
Sport Seats (Driver and passenger) – $4,700
Bi-Color Elegant 2-Tone Interior (contrast inserts in doors, seats, instrument panel) – $2,100
Bi-Color Sportive 2-Tone Interior (contrast inserts in doors, seats, instrument panel) – $2,100
Alcantara Interior Trim (includes suede seats) – $2,100
Interior Q-citura In Leather (rhomboid (diamond) pattern upholstery stitching) – $2,900
Interior Q-citura In Alcantara (rhomboid (diamond) pattern upholstery stitching) – $2,900
Suede Leather-trimmed Steering Wheel – $780
Perforated Leather-trimmed Steering Wheel – $780
Leather Headliner – $1,040
Exclusive Luggage – $4,000
Rearview Camera – $4,350
SuperVeloce Carbon Fiber Interior Trim Package (LP670-SV Only) – $4,900
SuperVeloce Livery Sticker Package (LP670-SV Only) – $2,800
Fixed Rear Spoiler (LP670-SV Only) – $7,000
Fire Extinguisher (LP670-SV Only) – $780
SuperVeloce Floor Mats (LP670-SV Only) – $980
Best Year to Buy a Murcielago
There are plenty of different buying strategies out there depending on how you are going to use your Murcielago. Some will want to buy and store, others occasionally drive, and others daily drive. This all boils down to personal preference.
With certain model years come certain advantages, for instance if you are looking for a Murcielago with E-Gear transmission you should avoid 2004-2005 models, as after that they include a more modern and reliable version. If brakes are your thing go for anything 2005 and newer as carbon ceramic brakes became standard equipment.
The best bang for your buck would be a 2002 – 2003 Murcielago with manual transmission as these models promise to deliver the most authentic Murcielago experience at a mere fraction of the price of later years. It may be wise to stay away from Murcielagos with E-gear as problems and issues are well known. This batch of Murcielagos can be found at an average price as low as $120,000. If you consider that when brand new this cars MSRP was $320,000, you realize just how much car you’re getting for the price. A car that delivers 572 bhp and has a V12 that is under $150,000 is a good deal and an incredible opportunity to own a supercar like this.
If you are looking for the best version of the Murcielago, then look no more than the amazing LP640. In comparison to the 2002-2006 models, it is superior not only mechanically but also aesthetically. From 2007 on, the LP640 truly came into its own and reached its full potential of Lamborghini’s intended design and the market tends to agree as well with a staggering price difference of at least $30,000 between pre-LP640 and LP640.
Perhaps the most appreciating version of the LP640 are those with a manual transmission, and for good reason. The number of manual transmission LP640’s out there make them extremely rare. In the US there are only 26 of these rare manual gearbox LP640’s. In Canada there are only 3, and Mexico only has 1. Prices for this particular model can be found on average for $220,000 well equipped with relatively low mileage and will only continue to go up from this point on.
The Lamborghini Murcielago and LP640 are two necessary halves of the same coin, and depending on what you desire from a supercar, one will be more suitable for you than the other. That is to say that no matter what your choice, you won’t be missing out at all.
To be able to enjoy one of the jewels of Lamborghini’s rich automotive history is an incredible thing. And to do so, thorough and in-depth research is required to ensure you get the right car. Look for one that has been taken care of with thorough documentation and complete history and is up to date is every measurable way.
There is no such thing as too much research when finding the right Murcielago for you. Be careful and happy searching.