Some things are so grand, they just defy definition. A long vacation in Paris. A winning lottery ticket. A hole in one.

How about a long weekend spent driving a new Lamborghini Murcielago? This was the real deal, a screaming yellow, 12-cylinder, jaw-dropping, take-no-prisoners supercar of the highest order. Ridiculously fast, insanely expensive, wildly desirable.

(Dear editor: OK, I know this automobile is not on most of our readers' shopping lists, so let's chalk this one up to pure fantasy. How could I resist?)

Murcielago is the latest mid-engine muscle car from Automobili Lamborghini, those savvy Italians who brought us such ground-pounders as Countach and Diablo. The Countach, all angles, spoilers and scoops, was most often seen on posters in young men's dormitory rooms during the 1980s, right alongside Farrah Fawcett's toothy grin.

Murcielago also continues Lamborghini's 30-year tradition of naming most of its cars after fighting bulls. And today is a special day for Murcielago.

The latest Lambo is named for a bull that exactly 123 years ago, on Oct. 5, 1879, fought such a fierce battle that his life was spared by the matador. So Murcielago, the bull, got to stay out of the butcher shop for being such a tough hombre.

Also note that murcielago is the Spanish word for bat, the flying kind.

Murcielago, the car, caused an uproar in my neighborhood. Most of the guys showed up in the driveway, as did all my sons' pals. Everybody got pony rides.

The best ride was reserved for my younger son, who accompanied me on a back-road loop through Wickenburg, Prescott, Jerome, Sunflower, Payson and back to Phoenix.

The exotic shape, so much cleaner than Countach or Diablo, is almost universally recognized, especially when the signature doors swing upward with a soft whoosh. In traffic, I was often boxed in by other drivers vying to get a closer look.

But it's the thunderous boom of this engine that attracts the most attention. Full bore, the raucous baritone is indeed like the bellow of a charging bull. Not the rolling howl of a 12-cylinder Ferrari, nor the husky explosion of an American V-8, but a different kind of roar.

Here's a number to ponder: 575. That's the horsepower of the mighty 6.2-liter V-12 engine that sits amidships, just behind the seats. This powerplant propels the Lambo to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds. In first gear.

The power is absolute, with an acceleration rush that must be like takeoff in the space shuttle. Top speed is 204 mph. No, I didn't sample that, but when you can pass 60 in first gear, and there are six gears, you know something's up.

The handling is nearly as incredible as the power, enhanced by all-wheel-drive, which also prevents shrieking wheel spins at takeoff, and the inherent balance of a low-profile, mid-engine car. The steering is very quick and direct, with lots of positive feedba ck. The enormous tires put plenty of rubber on the pavement, and the vented, four-caliper disc brakes are fantastic, as well they should be.

Once I mastered the intimidation of piloting a $273,000 supercar, I found that in normal driving, the Lambo is actually quite docile. Slogging through traffic or cruising on the freeway, the Murcielago feels so mild and comfortable, it's easy to forget you're in one of the world's most outrageous cars.

The interior is fairly unadorned, with a simple climate control and stereo system. The seats are stiffly bolstered and quite narrow in the seating area, so anyone with a little weight aft may feel squeezed.

But in a major improvement over past Lamborghinis, the interior is actually quite roomy, even for this too-tall driver.

Minor complaints: Those doors are heavy to pull closed, especially for smaller occupants. And in this no-nonsense driver's car, forget about cup holders or cruise control.

Of c rse, even a Lamborghini must fall prey to the maladies of the real world. In this case, our Murcielago's air-conditioner quit working because, we found out later, a $2 rubber O-ring failed.

And that price tag, well, there are surely enough movie stars, sports figures and retired CEOs who can pony up for a car that costs more than most homes. The $273,000 includes a $7,700 gas-guzzler tax, but not federal luxury tax or Arizona sales tax, which should add up to a nice Toyota.

Only about 140 Murcielagos will be sent to the United States this year, so you'd better hurry up and get in line.

At my house, a gigantic tractor-trailer arrived to take Lambo off to Chicago, creating another neighborhood sensation as the beautiful form was hoisted into the trailer and spirited away.

Lamborghini Murcielago

Vehicle type: Two-passenger, mid-engine sports car, all-wheel drive.

Base price: $273,000.

Price as tested: $274,300.

Engine: 6.2-liter V-12, 575 horsepower at 7,500 rpm, 478 pounds-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed manual.

Wheelbase: 104.9 inches.

Curb weight: 3,630 pounds.

EPA mileage: 9 city, 13 highway.

Highs:

Incredible power.

Beautiful styling.

Instant popularity.

Lows:

Incredible price tag.

Closing those doors.

Had to give it back.