By: Double Apex
Cape Town - It’s been nearly sixteen years, but I remember it like it was a few weeks ago. As the new recruit to one of SA’s (then) leading motoring titles, I was given an enviable work assignment and the best/worst possible way to start my tenure there.
When the editor handed me the invite, I thought that he was pranking the new guy. I mean, who gets offered a Lamborghini launch event on their very first day of work? The answer, it seems, was me. As it turned out, the invite was received quite late and everyone else on the team was already scheduled on other events. Well, don’t mind if I do…
Just seven days after starting my new job I was jetting off to Malaysia, still not quite convinced that I could be this fortunate. Those fears dissolved completely when I entered the pitlane at the Sepang International Circuit where I was greeted by a fleet of the brand-spanking new Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. Incidentally, “Murcielago” means bat in Spanish, which was a departure from the fighting bulls Lambos are usually named after.
It wasn’t my first car launch, or track experience, but this was a whooolllle other level. I’d driven a few fast/powerful cars before, but this would be my first taste of proper, mid-engined Italian exotica. And to top it off we were at an F1 circuit on which to enjoy these thoroughbreds.
All these years later, and having driven countless cars in various locations, the Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 international ride and drive rates as one of my most memorable events. There are other notables, but this one is near the very top of my list for a few reasons.
I recall being forgotten at the airport by the Lambo staff (a story for another day). I remember my ‘experienced’ co-driver fluffing many gearshifts during his laps of Sepang, even though he claimed to have some racing experience. And how can I forget watching a ‘hotshot’ Japanese journo perform multiple pirouettes heading into the outfield at T5… whoops.
I especially recollect chasing one of Lamborghini’s test drivers for a few laps, and the subsequent, very slight nod of approval when we returned to the pits. This is the highest form of compliment any Italian racing driver ever dishes out – or so I am told.
I have been fortunate enough to drive many Lambos since (as recently as the Huracan Evo) but, as they say, you never forget your first. Anyway, all these memories came flooding back just a few days ago when I found myself behind the wheel of a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 Roadster right here in SA.
I have a streak of good fortune when it comes to supercars. My very first experience of a Ferrari (458) was through the good graces of a chap I hardly knew. I was immensely lucky to get behind the wheel of an F40 in Italy (article here), thanks to a virtual stranger. And most recently I got to pilot the car pictured above. I can’t say too much about the owner, except that he is a real petrolhead and has many nice toys.
One of his treasured babies is a Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 Roadster, which he admits he is unlikely to ever sell. He recently turned down a massive chunk of change for the drop-top, so I believe him. The day of our drive was a chance for him to give the slumbering beast its monthly workout, so my timing was on the money.
The Luc Donckerwolke-penned shape is arrestingly good looking even 20-odd years later. Without knowing an iota about cars you would guess this is a Lambo. The shock-and-awe of its low slung body (a fraction over 1,1 metres), extreme width (over two metres), combined with its incredible profile and long tail means it attracts masses of attention.