by Thillainathan “Path” Pathmanathan
“The reality of ‘just driving’ these cars is almost guaranteed to disappoint. To drive a Countach from Chesterfield Gardens to Dunraven Street, at Mayfair speeds, is to directly experience Dante’s Inferno concurrently with losing Milton’s paradise, and a Murcielago is not much better.”
Disparaging words by the author about the book’s main character? What kind of book is this??
A surprisingly deep book is what it is; surprising at least to those who fail to read the book jacket flap and won’t discover until chapter 17, the last one in the book and self-deprecatingly titled “Random Musings of a Dilettante,” that the author owns a Murci (the cover car, in fact). And a Countach. And—, and—, and—.
And a Series I Miata, which he likes because it is a “pure driver’s car” so put away whatever prejudices you harbor against supercar owners and accept that this fellow is not a poser but a connoisseur. Also, it’s probably only in ch 17 that a throwaway line in the Acknowledgements about his wife takes on a deeper meaning: “Thank you also for providing the subject material.” Providing? Turns out she has cars on the brain too and is, in fact, the listed coauthor on Pathmanathan’s next book, KTM X-Bow (ISBN 978-1787114333), that cutting-edge UK production sports car with an extreme brief. Well, it helps to be able to put cars under the Christmas tree if you’re an Ophthalmic Surgeon, and have a wife who is too, and own your own company.
Alright then, the book: it’s a first-time effort, which is neither here nor there, and it is not clear why Path undertook this book. That both this and the next one are about cars he owns is also neither here nor there except it does underline that he is singularly able to not just write about a car in the abstract but drill down to the gritty detail of living with such an unusual machine. His penchant for Lambos goes back to his youth (b. 1962), seeing a Marzal concept car at a motor show in his native in Malaysia. Owning several concurrently and also sequentially, and alongside other exotic cars gives him an uncommonly seasoned perspective on their foibles and thrills, both of which he finds in abundance. From service to insurance, he is not at all bashful about their real-life day-to-day limitations; consider this sentence: “I believe that the single most important possession needed to maximize the enjoyment of driving a Murcielago is a 50-pence alarm clock. When set for 4:30 . . .” Been there/done that: unless you own your own racetrack or a large estate, where are going to drive such a car at more than 2/10ths? At the crack of dawn, on an empty road.
Fellow owners will find here validation and useful tips (cf., Path sourced a tonneau cover in the US that he further modified and this version is now available commercially) and prospects will get a realistic understanding of the purpose of a supercar. A good deal of the book is given to such practical matters and in that regard the book is quite unlike other model histories. Yes, the book does opens with a recap of the Lamborghini story, discusses other models/variants, specs and construction detail, and gives a quick tour of the museum. It also offers an entire chapter of “Expert Opinions” by dealers and service techs on buying advice, weak spots, road behavior etc. It is worth noting that Tonino Lamborghini, Ferruccio’s son, wrote the Foreword and is quoted throughout (as are other names in the Lambo world). He confirms for the record, incidentally, a key part of the lore in the origin story, namely Ferruccio falling out with Enzo Ferrari over clutch problems with the multiple cars Lamborghini had bought and which infuriated him enough to build his own cars. That doesn’t make the story any truer (cf. Ferrari dissing Bentleys as “fast lorries”) and it remains hearsay.
The layout, it must be said, is not always successful, the worst example probably being a photo spread with a short snippet of text one might take for a photo caption talking about the 640 Versace when the car is in fact the 40th Anniversary model from the preceding pages.
So, a nice book, written by someone with a passion for and knowledge of the car/s. And it does have an index, a rarity in a Veloce book. It doesn’t answer every question and does not really deal with the full production run (2001–10, 4099 units)—but it’s the only one about the Murcielago.
Copyright 2019, Sabu Advani (speedreaders.info).