Murciélago was, according to Audi, the new owners of Lamborghini, a heroic fighting bull that survived 24 sword wounds (or 30, depending upon which press release you read) but fought so well in the bullring that it's life was spared and it went on to sire many more bulls. Unfortunately there is no firm historical evidence for this, and the possibility of it not only surviving 30 or even 24 cuts but also being able to reproduce afterwards is so unlikely that many have accused Audi of attempting to capitalise on Ferruccio Lamborghini's obsession with bullfighting without really knowing what they were talking about. Still, it makes a good, although bloodthirsty, story.
in 2001 the Murciélago was the first car to be produced by Lamborghini under Audi ownership but it still used, for the last time, a derivative of the original, legendary quad cam V12 engine which first saw life in the 350 GT in 1964. The engine in this all wheel drive supercar was a huge 6200 cc monster however; later, in 2009, it was enlarged even further to 6500 cc, capable of propelling the car to more than 200 mph and going from nought to 60 in 3.1 seconds.
As the first new model for nearly 11 years this two door coupe still had aggressive, angular styling and scissor action doors. These can make it easier for passengers to get in and out in confined spaces, and make it easier for a driver to lean out of the car whilst reversing, and they have become something of a Lamborghini trademark.
It had a low-slung body which added to it's aggressive appearance; in fact the highest point on the roof was only four feet from the road. There was a rear wing to help keep it firmly on the ground at high speeds; this, as well as the air intakes, deployed automatically, governed by the speed of the car, to provide maximum cooling and aerodynamic efficiency.
In 2004 an open top model was brought out. This was fitted with a detachable soft roof but drivers were advised not to exceed 100mph with it fitted or it could blow off! The final version, the Super Veloce was unveiled next; with a 6500cc engine and a weight loss of around 200lbs, thanks to extensive use of carbon fibre, this became the car to be seen in.
Altogether, between 2001 and 2010 more than 4000 Murciélagos were built and sold. The end of this car's manufacture also marked the end of the venerable Lamborghini V12 engine, which was put into well desrved retirement after serving the company so well through so many changes of ownership.