A massive six-and-a-half-litre V12, a pair of seats and four wheels; this is as mad as supercars get. This is the Murciélago LP 640. There’s no luggage area, the air-conditioner looks like Lamborghini spent just two days designing it and stepping into the driver’s seat feels like you are suited up to pilot a military weapon. Close the scissor door shut, pull both paddles together to select neutral and start the motor, and it feels even more Top Gun.
Some brief mechanical whirring later, the V12 bursts into life over the shoulder. This is no modern, perfectly balanced V12. Many bits on this motor can be traced as far back as the Countach and Miura, and you can feel it throb and shake the car. Accompanying the idle bass is a buzz that massages your shoulder blades, and you can feel the mechanical beast come alive as you feed it fuel and air.
You can feel almost every one of the 12 mini-explosions. The V12 is only a foot behind you. It’s a surging, whooping animal of an engine. But now it’s time to see what 631 bhp can do (640 stands for PS, which is a bit more than bhp). Squeeze the accelerator progressively harder, and the bellows and snarls emitted from the cave-like exhaust will turn harder-edged as the Lambo drags forward its own wall of sound behind it. The scenery starts to blur at the edges as the huge motor churns out massive power that pushes the seat into your back and pins the head to the headrest.
Initially, this leads to some mild disorientation. However, as soon as the brain catches up with the car, squeeze the pedal more and for longer and you get even more heroic burst of power. Remember this is not 300, 400, 500 or even 600 bhp; it’s a gargantuan 631! Accuracy behind the wheel.
But it’s only when you use all 8,500 rarified rpm, unreal for a motor of this size, that you’ll experience the crazed beast of Bologna in full glory. 6000, 7000, 8000. The track turns to mush; kerbs, lines and other features dissolve into each other, and everything happens at twice the normal speed. And it goes on.
Sustained acceleration feels like a series of controlled explosions are being set off behind you. Every burst of acceleration shoves your internal organs into the backrest and you’ve to use your muscles to keep your hands and feet on the controls. What it must feel like to drive on normal roads is anyone’s guess.
As if this were not scary enough, the rear of the Murciélago carries massive momentum with it and at times wants to carry on straight, long after you’ve turned into a corner. The worst part is that there isn’t much you can do at this stage, if that heavy ‘pendulum’ in the rear decides it wants to overtake you. The faster you go, the more aware you become of this, and the more controlled and deliberate you have to be. The contrast is huge. On one hand, the car is pummelling you sideways in a corner and the back as you accelerate hard out. And on the other, you need to be very precise and accurate behind the wheel, always two steps ahead of the car.
Yes, this is one of the most exciting and fastest cars ever, up there with the McLaren F1 and Bugatti Veyron. But it’s also a car that has enough power to churn your stomach. You can’t mess with the slip angle of the 335 tyre, the humongous momentum the car builds or the mass of that huge V12 engine.