Versus the competiton:
Paris Hilton has my sympathies.
People staring at her all the time. Cameras flashing every time she drops her dog or goes to jail. The same inane conversations, over and over. “Does that dog bite? Do you?”
No, my heart goes out to Paris. A life where everyone notices you is not one for me. Fame isn’t cool. It’s downright annoying.
It’s a lesson I learned after spending 50 hours and 480 miles in the 2007 Lamborghini LP640 Murciélago.
See, in a Lamborghini, nothing is private.
People gawk at you. They stare dreamingly as you throttle 640 horses past them with just enough subtle snobbery to remind all onlookers that they live in that other America — the unwashed one.
“Yes, I’m cruising in a $320,000 Lamborghini whose name I can still not pronounce — keep walking, bud,” I muttered to myself.
A surreal ride
I picked up this supercar at Lamborghini Troy, where I was given an orientation on paddle shifters and apocalyptic acceleration: Slam your foot on the accelerator and click with your right hand every three or four seconds until you either hit 100 mph or swallow your tongue. Second gear peaks at 94 mph.
Launching the LP640 is surreal. It goes from 0 to 60 faster than you can read this sentence (under 3.4 seconds). From there, it only speeds up. In fact, more than two-thirds of the numbers on its speedometer are illegal speeds in Michigan. Its top speed is 211 mph.
When I signed for the car, I was told to return it in two days, not to let anyone else drive it (not a problem), don’t wreck it (I think I can drive better than Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs), and don’t put more than 500 miles on it. WHAT!?
Five hundred miles? I could chew that up in 2.5 hours. Nicole Richie spent nearly that long in jail!
No trip to Chicago, no loops around Metro Detroit calling up friends to have them come outside and admire what I was driving. I had told everyone I knew I was getting the Lamborghini (I never called it a “Lambo” because that sounds crass), and now I was going to waste all of my miles driving around to gloat.
My first passenger, Henry Payne, Detroit News editorial cartoonist and weekend racer, got 15 miles. I like him, he’s a great guy, but miles are miles. “Hope you enjoyed yourself. Get out.”
I dropped him off at the dealer’s office and thought, “Hey, since I’m at the dealer’s, maybe those 15 miles don’t count.” I nodded in agreement with myself, trading my word to the Diablo of exotic cars for a few more minutes of paradise.
What to do, I wondered as I headed out to Ann Arbor where my wife works. Why did I promise to take her to lunch in the Lamborghini? I would be burning precious miles.
As I hit I-696, the car’s super stiff suspension and velvet engine calmed me. The rear-mounted V-12 soothed my nerves. Looking at the speedometer, I realized I was nearing 80 mph, still in third gear, and a police officer was tailing me. But no lights flashed. He drove up to me, looked me over and smiled. In fact, everyone looked at me.
Pretty women smiled. Men pulled out camera phones, swerving to take pictures of the car. Children grew wide-eyed, recognizing this car was something special.
People would start to pass me, then slow down to give me a thumbs-up. Normally, when people pass, they show a different digit.
At stop lights, they laughed in awe and said things like “beautiful ride,” and “incredible.” Naturally, I allowed the compliments aimed at the car to also hit me.
Maybe they thought I was rich, or someone important. They must think I’m famous.
By the end of the day, I had stopped telling people I was reviewing the car for The News. It had become mine. A little white lie, Diablo assured me.
“Thank you,” I’d say. “It is a bit sporty, I must confess.” Hmm, I was developing a rather bad English accent. When one person asked me what a guy like me did to get a car like that, I replied coolly, “Mega Millions quick-pick.” The world was mine — at least, for another 30 hours.
This car does everything
The next morning, only 330 miles left. My time in the cockpit of this delicious orange coupe was dwindling.
Once getting to the office, I found myself offering co-workers quick spins around downtown Detroit. Five miles here, four miles here. No car had created such a buzz before. No one got out without a huge grin on their face. Cedar Point’s fast ride was on Lafayette Boulevard. By the end of the day, I had driven 380 ego-stroking miles.
Now, I could offer you lots of technical mumbo jumbo about the LP640. That science-behind-the-art kind of stuff. The sculpted body (with a 105-inch wheelbase) that looks like Auguste Rodin perfected its form. The 335 18-inch Pirelli P-Zero rear tires that ensure a stable blast-off. The all-wheel drive system coupled with a high-tech suspension that can even lift the front end a few inches to prevent scraping it as you pull into your driveway.
This car does everything. In Italian, Murciélago means “Bad Ass.” Or at least it should.
I could moan about the sensitive brakes that cause seat belt strangulation until you figure out how to delicately press them down. The Kenwood stereo system (yes, I thought they were out of business, too) with an impossible-to-read screen during daylight hours. Even the six-speed transmission downshifted on the clunky side — something I might not expect to hear on a $300,000-plus car.
But the only reason I can even mention those quibbles is I didn’t shell out enough cash to fund a small army to buy the car. If I did, you’d never hear a disparaging word — other than about all of those people staring at me.
Because they never stop. The final morning I had the LP640, they were relentless. On the road, it was bad, but in parking lots, it was worse. Those car lovers, snapping their pictures; asking to sit in it; talking to me like we were old friends. The Diablo had possessed me. I loved and reviled the attention all at the same time.
As I headed back to Troy, I felt a sense of relief. My 15 minutes of fame were about to end in the parking lot of a Lamborghini dealership and that was quite all right by me. Hopping into a nondescript sedan and heading back to work, no one noticed me on I-75.
Well, at least we’ll always have Paris.
The 2007 Lamborghini LP640 Murciélago’s exterior is a sculpted work of art.
2007 Lamborghini Murciélago
Type : All-wheel drive, rear engine sports coupe
Engine: 6.5-liter V-12, 640-hp, 487-lb-ft torque
Transmissio n: 6-speed manual or paddle shifting automatic
Notes : Incredible power and speed.
Overall : ****
Performance: Excellent: Incredible acceleration and handling. It’s truly a supercar.
Exterior: Excellent: Sculpted work of art.
Interior : Excellent: Entire cockpit is encased in leather.
Safety: Excellent:: Scads of technology to help prevent accidents and other technology to help if you end up in one.
Pros: It’s a supercar that’s luxurious and incredibly fast.
Cons: Not for the faint of heart or those who don’t want everyone to stare.
Scott Burgess is the auto critic for The Detroit News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.