There are a lot of fun superlative adjectives that we can assign to cars – fast, beautiful, powerful, luxurious, futuristic, etc. Those are all wonderful accolades to dole out toward the crop of new cars that magazines test each year. Another word we seen thrown around by media and manufacturers is “rare.” What defines rare?
Ferrari made 39 cars that are considered 250 GTOs. McLaren made 64 F1 Road Cars. Lamborghini made 3 Veneno Coupes. Dodge made just 14 Hemi-Cuda Convertibles. These are certainly rare. But when did they become rare? That answer varies greatly. A GTO was an old technology race car in the 80s. It took more than 7 years for McLaren to sell their last new car. Lamborghini decided how many Venenos they would make based on the customers who had volunteered to pay whatever price for whatever car whenever they fancied producing it. Dodge would have been happy to build more but the option pricing steered customers away.
Cars become rare when notice they are rare. But how does that happen?
In the summer of 2003 I was 17 years old. A friend and I drove up to Lamborghini Carolinas because the local Atlanta Lamborghini dealership where I would work 6 years later would not let me test drive the new Murcielago. Our confidence scheme got me behind the wheel of a brand new Rosso Andromeda Murcielago coupe. It was an amazing experience blasting the car around the backroads of Greensboro, NC with a terrified passenger just praying that if I crashed it that I would be able to buy it. It was etched into my brain. There is something about cars that were cool when you were 16-20 that you never grow out of loving.
Back then, all Murcielagos were manual. E-Gear did not emerge as an option until the next model year, 2004. When it came out though, the tides were turning. Ferrari had introduced F1 in 1997 on the 355. It eventually became standard on the F430 in 05. It was an option with over 95% penetration in the 2000s on exotic cars but that number was just thrown around. No one really knew.
My desire to one day own a manual Murci never waned. I tried to buy 4 of them over the years but life circumstances repeatedly kept me from them. In 2014 at Amelia Island, RM sold a manual transmission Ferrari 599 for over $700k. It could be argued that it was the beginning of the end of attainable ownership of post 2000 manual exotics. The auction house reported that it was 1 of 19 manual cars imported into the US. It was a quantity that made the car rare by literally any standard.
I became curious. How many manual LP640s were in the US. I had sold a few and seen several advertised but they were certainly hard to come by. I started compiling a list. I contacted other dealers, I called the owners that I knew had them. I asked the factory.
“We don’t know how many we built, much less how many were brought into the country,” was the answer I received. It was true. They had no idea. No one had asked or, at least, no one they cared to answer. I told them how to check. I said to search their window sticker database for VINs beginning with ZHWBU37M for coupes and ZHWBU47M for roadsters. The answer I got back, very secretly, was 23. I had already found 26.
26 cars! Out of 4099 cars built from 2001-2010 only 26 manual 2007-2009 LP640s (the second generation of the Murcielago) came to the US. I was astonished. My resolve deepend to find one of my own. Fortunately one of the customers I had sold a green 08 coupe to called me up a month or so later and asked if the dealership would buy mine back. I volunteered my services.
The rarity of the car adds to the ownership experience but it was a knowledge that was not convenient to find. I created VINwiki with this amazing team to that your search might be a bit more convenient.