LP640 Roadster Bares, Dares All

Top this: Top down, you accelerate from that irksome freeway red-light to 60 miles an hour in 3.4 seconds, and this graceful V12 will see green until around 205 miles per hour (photo cameras or police chasers excepted) — enough to get you from Phoenix to Flagstaff in a cool hour and 15 minutes. Could a beauty with a Pinnafarina body sunning on the Italian Riviera deliver that much excitement?

The Lamborghini Murciélago Roadster, which debuted at the 2006 Los Angeles Auto Show, retains the many assets of the LP640 Coupe while adding drop top excitement as well as bodystyle and mechanical innovations for strength and verve.

The “LP” designates the engine position — “longitudinale posteriore” — and the number the mesomorphic 640 horses. Murciélago refers to the legendary bull, whose indomitable courage in a famous 1879 bullfight in Cordoba, Italy, caused matador Rafael Molina “Lagartijo” to spare his life.

Incorporating changes to the engine, suspensions, gearbox, exhaust system, brakes and electronics, as well as to the interior and exterior designs, the Coupe debuted at the Geneva Car Show in 2006. The legendary industry front-runner first appeared at the 2001 International Car Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, with more than 2,000 Murciélagos already produced from the Lamborghini factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese.

“How can you pass the LP640 Coupe?” asks Ros de Giaxa, general manager for Motorsports of Scottsdale/ Lamborghini of Scottsdale, Raintree and Hayden roads in the Scottsdale Airpark. “The only way I know is take the top off a LP640 and let her rip up to 8,000 rpm, if you dare. This very special Lamborghini will deliver you in style, and in time, anywhere you’re going.” The price tag begins at $390,000.

Drop Top Gorgeous

“As always for any Lamborghini,” de Giaxa adds, “purism, sportiness and functionality combine into a motoring work of art.” The Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. stylists have retained the new and front and rear bumpers of the Coupe as well as the exhaust system terminal integrated in the diffuser on the rear bumper. The ragtop body also combines sheet steel on the roof and external door panels and carbon honeycomb as well as the wing, or scissor, doors.

Also from the Coupe, the Roadster features an asymmetrical interior arrangement, providing the driver-focused experience that makes Murciélago the frontrunner of luxury sportscars. For instance, perforated leather, with lozenge-shaped stitching called “Q-citura,” appears on the chair cushions, the dashboard tunnel console, the roof panel, and the driver’s side door lining (Coupe owners can also order this appointment).

The 6.5-liter 12-cylinder, which attains 640 bhp at 8,000 rpm, is also the Roadster power plant. You’ll reach maximum torque of 487 lb-ft. at 6,000 rpm. As a result of boring and stroking the already potent 580 horsepower block, the Murciélago Roadster jumps to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds — a significant 0.4 seconds faster than the last-generation Murciélago. To make this happen, Lamborghini engineers rethought the cylinder head and the intake system as well as the crankshaft, camshafts and exhaust system, de Giaxa explains.

“If you want more power than that,” he says, “a space shuttle might be your next buy. The Murciélago engine is bullish and aggressive, true to its heritage, but it’s also graceful, providing ease through our freeway traffic and city streets.”

Bringing the powerplant to the wheels, a six-gear transmission combines with a beefy rear differential and new half-axles. The e-gear tranny can also be optioned with a thrust mode for optimum acceleration.

The ignition system features individual coils for each of the 12 spark plugs. “Every engine and vehicle parameter is managed and controlled by ‘master’ control units as well as a ‘satellite’ control unit,” de Giaxa notes.

New springs and stabilizers and electronically controlled silencers are also retained as are the anti-dive and anti-squat properties of the axles, which effectively prevent brake diving and squatting, remain unchanged. The suspension incorporates dual front and rear struts as well as an antiroll, antidive and antisquat bar. The Roadster also has permanent four-wheel drive based on the self-governing Lamborghini VT (Viscous Traction) system. The steering is power-assisted rack and pinion.

Paving New Roads

New to the Roadster are the rear lights and 18-inch rims as well as engineering upgrades. Also distinguishing the new ragtop are the asymmetrical sides: On the right side, the area behind the air intake is practically closed, and on the left side, there is an opening for cooling the oil radiator. “Lamborghini’s engineers realized that the LP640 would need a larger oil radiator, so they increased the air intake on the left side of the car,” de Giaxa explains. The system works electronically: As the outdoor temperature increases, the intake opens to maximize cooling and aerodynamic efficiency. Those who live year round in the desert will appreciate that in July.

“This design for the air intakes, like the aerodynamics of the front and rear of the car, shows once again how function and form coordinate for Lamborghini,” de Giaxa says. Even the newly designed rear-view mirror adds to the aerodynamics.

Inside, the upholstery has new lozenge-shaped stitching, and the instrument panel has been redesigned with new display graphics. The new Kenwood car radio features a 6.5- inch widescreen monitor and reader for DVD, MP3 and WMA. And, buyers may choose a navigation system — just in case they went too far too fast.

As with the Coupe, the Roadster frame and chassis incorporates sheet steel and honeycombed carbon-fiber parts, glued and riveted for maximum torsion resistance. Similarly, in the engine area, engineers have provided steel reinforcement. This, in fact, can be ordered in carbon fiber to enhance visual appeal.

For speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour, owners can order a special canvas R top. Coupe buyers, by the way, can even request an engine hood made of transparent glass. In addition, with the Lamborghini “Privilegio” customizing program, fortunate owners can enhance their new Roadster with details such as a carbon finish on the air conditioning control panel, the control lever console and the parking brake.

The brakes, as in the Coupe, are self-ventilating ABS front and rear brake disks. Owners can purchase larger ceramic carbon brakes featuring six-piston brake callipers, reducing braking distance and vehicle weight as well as increasing attractiveness. And, although the Roadster will often be top down, it maintains safety throughout — including details such as the childproof luggage compartment, de Giaxa notes.

Finally, new “Hermera” aluminum wheel rims measure 8 1 inches x 18 inches at the front and 13 inches x 18 inches at the rear. Lamborghini outfits every Murciélago with Pirelli P Zero “ROSSOs”: at the front 245/35 ZR18 and 335/30 ZR18 at the rear. Drivers may upgrade to Pirelli P Zero Corsas — designed for use on race tracks. Pirelli P “Sottozero” (Sub zero) winter tires are being developed.

“With the top down, this is the alpha Murciélago, the most distinguished Lamborghini, the lead bull,” de Giaxa says. “If there is a greater motoring pleasure in this world, with our warm desert sun or our starlit nights visible above you, and 600 horses under you, I just don’t know where to find it — or, for that matter, how to think about creating it.”

Lamborghini Scottsdale 480.483.9300