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This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream

Illustration for article titled This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream
Photo: Curated (Fair Use)

Unlike Ferrari, Maserati, McLaren, and the rest of the big supercar names, Lamborghini hasn’t really liked to push on its racing cred. That’s usually because the cars the band has fielded on the track haven’t done all too well. This one is no exception, but that doesn’t make it any less cool.

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After the unfortunately stunted career of the Lamborghini Countach QVX Group C car and the brand bounded its way into the safe and caring arms of Audi, Lamborghini turned to German race car builders Reiter Engineering for help turning its big V12 supercars into GT race cars. First, there was the Diablo GT-R, a car that seems nearly impossible to learn about online for some reason. Then there was this: The Lamborghini Murciélago R-GT, first introduced in 2003 at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Illustration for article titled This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream
Photo: Classic Driver (Fair Use)
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In order to take a car most at home cruising Alton Road in Miami Beach or Brompton Road in Mayfair and give it the chops necessary to compete at Le Mans, Sebring, and other major circuits, Reiter made a couple of adjustments over the stock road car. These changes allowed the car to be homologated to both FIA GT and ALMS specs, meaning it could compete in endurance races all around the world.

Illustration for article titled This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream
Photo: Curated (Fair Use)

First, the interior was stripped and caged. None of that Audi-sourced trim and leather would be necessary on the track. Second, a six-speed sequential racing transmission took the place of the gated manual between the engine and the wheels, and third, air restrictors were installed to keep the power coming out of the bellowing V12 in check when the car competed against more pedestrian models with considerably more modest cylinder counts. Oh yeah, they planted a massive wing on the rear deck too.

Illustration for article titled This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream
Photo: Classic Driver (Fair Use)
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But most important of all, the Murciélago R-GT’s four-wheel-drive system was removed as well, making them fully rear-wheel-drive. That’s right. These cars were modern Lamborghinis stripped of the one thing that kept them manageable and on the road in the hands of the over-moneyed, under-trained drivers that typically buy the brand’s range-toppers. While the V10-powered Gallardo and later Huracán would eventually get rear-wheel-drive variants too for both road and track use, that wouldn’t be the case for the V12-powered cars.

Illustration for article titled This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream
Photo: Classic Driver (Fair Use)
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While Lamborghini knew a rear-wheel-drive Murciélago wasn’t going to be driveable for the common folk, they were pretty sure that the R-GT would have been formidable with a race car driver behind the wheel. Turns out, that wasn’t exactly the case. The car couldn’t keep up on faster tracks where its mighty V12 was supposed to sing, only ever being competitive on tighter circuits. Eventually, one R-GT managed a win in the 2009 1000 km of Catalunya, but that would be the model’s only outright racing success. With such a weak record, the car, which officially had an uncapped order book when launched, only sold seven copies.

Illustration for article titled This Failed Rear-Wheel-Drive Lamborghini Murciélago Is An Endurance Racing Fever Dream
Photo: Curated (Fair Use)
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This particular car, known as #1055, competed in seven races around the United States, with its best showing its first, a 7th place overall finish at Mid-Ohio in 2003 with David Brabham and Peter Kox behind the wheel racing for Krohn/Barbour Racing. The story of that team and those drivers is well-detailed in the classified ad on classicdriver.com. That racing history and its one-of-seven rarity mean that Miami dealership Curated is asking a full $695,000 for a chance to take this car home. That’s pretty steep to me, but it’s a rear-wheel-drive track-only V12 Lamborghini race car. This wasn’t going to be a rational conversation about responsible financial decisions, was it?

Max Finkel is a Weekend Contributor at Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

featherlite
featherlite

Maybe it’s just me getting older... but the original Murciélago is just hnngggggg. Yes, newer Lambos are more “livable” and accessible, but there is just something about the “Murci” that keeps me coming back to take another look. Back when they were new the LP640 and SV got much more of my attention, but now the “standard” Murciélago is the one that draws my attention the most.