While any Lamborghini Murcielago is a brave purchase, only one can be the bravest. That position is resolutely filled by the spectacular high-mileage example belonging to Simon George. Having stretched himself to buy the car and quickly realising he couldn't afford to run it, George set it to work doing driving experiences. The strategy was a successful one in terms of justifying the purchase, leading to the creation of 6th Gear Experience, with the Murcielago clocking up more than a quarter of a million miles as a bull for hire. The costs of doing this were terrifying, of course - the Lambo using more than 80 sets of tyres, eight new clutches and three full engine rebuilds. But the scariest bills came after the car was crashed with a punter driving - about £90,000 to get it back on the road, with that including new headlights that cost £6,000 a piece.
The extreme musculature of George's cheque-signing hand is evidence that every other Murcielago will always look relatively sensible. Even this week's Pill, a left-hooker that started its career in the Middle East before reaching Britain in 2019. The advert details some substantial recent spend, including a repaint and a freshly installed clutch. But although it is obviously well short of the mileage of George's car, it is still wearing what looks like a very substantial odometer figure for a Murcielago - 43,000. That's about three times higher than the average of the other cars currently in the Classifieds. Which is likely also why it is the least expensive, £129,995 making it one of the cheapest V12 Lambos currently on sale in the country.
Yet aside from those running costs that get closer to sprinting, it is possible to make a case for a Murcielago as a sensible medium term investment. After an initial period of lemming-like depreciation values started to fall much more slowly around ten years ago, and have long since started to bounce back. For the last five years it has been enjoying residual anti-gravity, outperforming all but the reddest and most warning strewn financial products, although with the obvious need to offset gains against those savage running costs.
These days even the least expensive Countach is being offered for north of £300,000, but the Murcielago remains tied with the less desirable versions of the Diablo for the title of cheapest V12 powered Lamborghini. And the Murcielago is a vastly better car. While both Countach and Diablo had their images stuck to millions of bedroom walls, they always offered driving experiences which were big on thrills and short on dynamic finesse.
The Murcielago was launched after Audi had taken control of Lamborghini, and after a somewhat difficult development gestation. Lambo's original proposal was reckoned to be too similar to the Diablo by Volkswagen big boss Ferdinand Piech, so a styling wunderkind called Luc Donckerwolke was brought in to have another go. The result was pretty spectacular, a car that shared the size and rear-engined proportions of its predecessors, but with a far cleaner look and - inside its cabin - evidence of the sort of ergonomic thought that Lamborghini had previously reckoned was for wimps.
Okay, so it's not exactly spacious or easy to get in or out of; but average-sized humans can fit in reasonable comfort once they've scrambled inside. The seating position remains offset by the huge front wheel wells, although visibility is much better than it is in a Diablo. Handling is much improved, too - any Murcielago feels big and wide on even average-sized roads, but dynamic security is high and standard all-wheel drive helps get the power down. Every Murcielago having an abundance of that, of course - even the least potent launch-spec version had 572hp, the later LP670 boosting that to 661hp.
My brief drive in Simon George's car four years ago confirmed that the engine remains the starring feature, even when the car was being driven gently over sodden public roads. The motor has huge low-down torque, a searing top end and the sort of linear responses that more modern turbocharged supercars try desperately to emulate through their robotic brains, and yet still can't do as well. The Murcielago also came with a standard six-speed manual transmission, this controlled by a glorious long-throw open gate, and which a reasonable number of buyers picked over the faster but much snapper roboticized E-Gear.
Our Pill has a clutch pedal and the Do-It-Yourself gearbox, a definite plus given the rising premium for manuals. The selling dealer reports it has recently been given a respray in its original colour - Grigio Antares metallic grey - and has, like many of its peers, also been given the bigger and more purposeful front and rear bumpers from the later LP-640. The red and black leather interior looks impressively fresh, too - although with a wobble in the leather dashboard over the passenger airbag that seems to afflict many early cars.
Enzo the hamster has been sent into the dusty recesses of the PH server farm to track down the hidden registration, allowing a glance at the MOT history. This reports just two tests since the car arrived in Blighty. The first in October 2018 was a fail that threw up several issues, most being either brake or lighting related and looking consistent with a car that had been off the road for some time. The second, in March last year, came 8km later and was a pass with a single advisory for front and rear brake disc corrosion. On that evidence the mechanical refettling was as extensive as the advert promises.
Beyond the wrong-side drive it's hard not to see drool-inducing appeal here, and the higher than average mileage makes it easier to justify adding more to the tally than it would with a four-figure garage queen. There's still a fair bit of headway until the next owner gets close to George's tally.
While SG54LAM remains on his personal fleet the car is enjoying a much quieter life these days as its owner works on his next project, having left 6th Gear to create Britain's biggest (and most realistic) model railway. I'm planning to go along once it starts touring to see if I can spot a 1:48 Lamborghini anywhere.
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