2002 Lamborghini Murcielago Preview

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2002 Maserati Coupe by TCC Team (3/25/2002)

Two hundred thirty-eight. It’s not a number I’m used to seeing on my speedometer. Even in metric form, and certainly not on a narrow, two-lane blacktop weaving its way through the quiet farm villages outside of Modena, Italy.

Okay, a quick conversion and it’s a nudge short of 150 mph. Still impossibly fast, especially when you consider I’ve just shifted into fifth and the big V-12 sitting behind me has a lot of breathing room and another gear left.

“It’s a race car, but it’s street legal,” was the sage advice offered up by Lamborghini’s global marketing chief, Bernd Hayden, as I prepared for my first turn behind the wheel in the new Murcielago. Ready for the street perhaps, but even in tolerant Italy, I’m not quite sure about the legal part.

Astounding performance

The $300,000 Murcielago is the latest in a series of astounding performance machines to emerge from the medieval town of Modena. The ancient community has been called “speed central,” by some, and “the Silicon Valley of Speed” by others. Either term is justified for Modena houses more high-performance automotive nameplates than anywhere else in the world, including Ferrari, Maserati and their smaller rival, Lamborghini.

2002 Lamborghini Murcielago

2002 Lamborghini Murcielago

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In the 38 years since Ferruccio Lamborghini rolled out his first production car, the 350GT, the automaker has produced barely 2000 vehicles. It’s best known for the legendary Countach, an angular, spacecraft-like vehicle that adorned more posters than any Italian since Sophia Loren. It was replaced in 1990 by the Diablo and now the Murcielago, the tenth “volume” car in Lamborghini’s brief history.

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