“Perhaps the best part of this roofless car is that $319,250 buys you a season's pass of exclusive performances. Winding out first and second requires a clear stretch of road. First is good for 77mph, and second will take you all the way to 110mph…” – Car and Driver gets behind the wheel of a new Murciélago Roadster in 2004
The Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster
Lamborghini announced that a Roadster version of its 203mph Murciélago hypercar would be shown at the 2004 Geneva Show. The now-Audi-owned company already had a standard-setting car on its books – 571bhp, 203mph, 0-60mph in 3.7secs according to Autocar – so the world held its breath when the covers came off the Roadster.
The new car was not only jaw-dropping for its extravagant appearance. Underneath the sharp suit penned by Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini's head of design, lay heavily revised brakes and a new, ‘more aggressive section’ exhaust. Furthermore, there was now no restriction on its maximum speed.
The Belgian designer was determined to make a visibly ‘different’ version of the Sant’Agata company’s flagship. He took inspiration from a motorcycle helmet’s visor for the glasshouse, with sharply radiused lines that swept from the top of the screen to the ‘flying buttresses’ at the rear. Pop-up roll-over bars would deploy just behind the headrests in the unlikely event of the car turning over. From above, the new Roadster appeared arrow-like – a fitting simile for a highly aerodynamic car with such prodigious performance.
A simple ‘R-top’ served as an emergency roof should the heavens open, though this car was made to be driven in the world’s hot spots: the Gulf, Miami, West Coast America and Mediterranean resorts.
The Roadster, though, was no poseur’s delight. It was almost identical to its coupé cousin mechanically and even took the Murciélago’s ‘no compromise’ engineering one step further. The brakes were upgraded from 14in to 15in (now eight-pot) at the front, 13.2in to 14in at the back. The rear calipers’ four pistons were increased in diameter. The new set-up was so good that the car could be pulled up from 125mph in just 129.5m. The wheels were unique to the Roadster and the exhaust was also new – the perfect sound track to cruise down Rodeo Drive or during a spirited run from Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat along the sea to Monaco.
To maintain the now roofless car’s composure, carefully thought-out strengthening in the engine bay made it almost as rigid as the coupé. This took the form of a braced ‘X-frame’ above the engine, as standard fabricated in steel but with carbonfibre an option.
Emphasising the focus on the driver, the Roadster’s interior as standard was ‘asymmetric’; the driver’s seat was perforated leather or Alcantara, the passenger's smooth leather.
Like the coupé, production of the Murciélago Roadster finished in 2010. It was one of the last ‘old school’ Lamborghinis, an extravagant explosion of colour and outrageous lines, yet one still capable of packing a very serious punch.
This Motor Car
According to a factory letter accompanying the car, chassis ‘01846’ was completed on 21 November 2005 and destined for the German market. It was subsequently sold via official agent Lamborghini Stuttgart and registered to first owner Peter Kaus on 1 July 2006. The pre-delivery test was carried out on 19 June 2006, and the invoice for this car and a Murciélago 40th Anniversary coupé also purchased by Kaus carries that date.
Peter Kaus was the owner of the Rosso Bianco Collection at Aschaffenburg, some 50km east of Frankfurt. Numbering some 200 cars, it included many seminal models such as Can Am racers and a world-class selection of predominantly Italian sports-racing prototypes. The 571bhp, high-tech Lamborghini Roadster would be in fine company.
As delivered, ‘01846’ was finished in a typical Lamborghini colour: Giallo Orion. Perhaps uncommonly, rather than ‘asymmetrically’, the interior was completed in one colour and material: Nero Perseus leather with contrasting stitching in Giallo. In addition to E-Gear semi-automatic transmission, the specification also included: Carbon Package, wind protector, Parktronic parking aid and a carbonfibre ‘X-frame’ brace in the engine compartment.
Our client purchased ‘01846’ directly from Kaus in 2014, together with the other half of the Rosso Bianco Collection ‘matching pair’, the Murciélago 40th Anniversary coupé.
Since acquisition, ‘01846’ has been kept in carefully maintained long-term storage, with maintenance work carried out by Italian marque and model experts Top Motors and Carrozzeria Cremonini. It has not been driven.
UK-registered, the Roadster has a current UK MoT and comes with manuals and spare keys, plus the special bag and all tools for the R-top roof. The odometer shows only 430km from new, commensurate with its unused condition.
Exciting to drive, dramatic to behold, this Murciélago Roadster in vibrant Giallo Orion is everything a classic Lamborghini should be. Who knows if the world will see its naturally-aspirated like again? The days of the no-holds-barred, big-capacity V12 supercar roadsters are surely over – and this 'time warp' example is probably unique.