I bought a film-famous Murcielago for $80K, and then things got weird

Lamborghini Murcielago thumb

Supercar ownership ain’t what it used to be. Pop open any social media app and you'll be thrust into a sea of barely-post-pubescent man-children braying about how getting their sparkly one-off Ferrari three weeks out of high school was a result of 49 percent “rising”, 49 percent “grinding”, and... two percent having a semi-absent dad who served as lead counsel for ExxonMobil. The doe-eyed, car-curious youth out there will be forgiven for thinking that not only are luxury, sports and exotic cars incredibly easy to attain, and the hardest thing about living with them is picking the color of the next one.

To remedy this, I've decided to inject a bit of gritty realism into the automotive landscape by purchasing and attempting to restore what is undoubtedly the worst running, cheapest, and most haggard example of Lamborghini 12-cylinder Murcielago supercar in the world. As a cherry on top of this rusty and oversprayed sundae, this particular automotive nugget was screen used in The Fate Of The Furious, a movie that made more money at the box office than the annual GDP of Antigua.

And I'd be doing everything on a budget. By myself.

For those of you who are new to my automotive mishaps and occasional triumphs, I run a YouTube channel that seeks to teach people about interesting cars they wouldn't otherwise see, from a frugal do-it-yourselfer's perspective. I do this by hoarding the kinds of supercars that wouldn't fit in at buy-here-pay-here lot, much less a squeaky clean Instagram influencer's “paid partnership” story.

My current fleet includes:

  • a barely-running Bentley Continental GT that spent the better part of a decade in Russia illegally
  • a 163,000 mile, 600 horsepower Mercedes-Benz S-Class that I drive every day
  • a Lamborghini Gallardo that suffered a small fire in its past
  • a Ferrari F355 that suffered a large fire in its past
  • and a mid-90s Toyota Supra that gets challenged to multiple street races daily, despite making all of 120 horsepower at the rear wheels.

The new-to-me Murcielago, however, was quite different than my usual fare of neglected exotica—this time, the automotive butchery was performed on purpose. To illustrate my point, I'll recall the entire sketchy story of how I bought this car, second in sketchiness to the car itself.

Several months ago, I was approached by a friend. The kind of friend who makes a habit of influencing people to empty their disappearing 401ks for questionable automotive purchases, livid wives be damned. That friend was transcontinental record holder, Lamborghini nut, and owner of multiple hoopties, Ed Bolian. He’s become an authority on his automaker of choice: Lamborghini, with a particular fondness for the Murcielago and its later model LP640/LP670 variants, having owned several himself. If anyone knew about these cars, it was this guy.

Bolian reached out to me with an unsolicited Facebook message, which was as impactful as it was devoid of any pertinent information.

"Hey man, do you want another cheap Lamborghini?"

The parts in my brain that, despite my best efforts, still get excited at obvious clickbait, registered an immediate "YES!"  Over the next few minutes, I was given information with the same knowledge gaps you'd get in a Craigslist for-sale ad that was only posted because divorce is more expensive than getting rid of that project Harley softail in the backyard.

The major takeaways from our exchange were that through a friend of a friend, Bolian learned that a clean titled, running and impossibly orange 2003 Lamborghini Murcielago was for sale in Los Angeles, it was screen used in The Fate of The Furious as the movie's “hero car”, Tyrese Gibson had driven it in the film, it had a custom-built roll cage installed and it needed some work. The asking price was $80,000... which was about $100,000 less than the next cheapest running example.

Others privy to the same information and blessed with disposable income would likely jump at the chance to own this car. Ed himself wanted it, as we are both attracted to the same kind of broken automotive perfection. However, because his money was tied up elsewhere and I was the only other person dumb enough to consider this car without crying myself to sleep over the purchase afterwards, I was staring at the business end of a perfect storm.

Taking action, though, meant that I'd have to pay 80 grand to an unknown person across the country in the hopes that the car's $65,000 hand-built and film-abused V12 wouldn't throw a rod five miles after the title was signed over. That kind of risk is fine in the Craigslist clunker world I currently inhabit—but taking that same attitude and moving it up to the top tax bracket could be ruinously expensive for me.  

If I've learned anything in life, however, it's that no great reward comes without great risk. So I hastily sold off my project Dodge Viper at a $2000 loss and fired those funds off as a deposit to a man in California who owned a warehouse with a number of iconic movie cars in it. I didn't feel I'd earned the right to haggle because I had to pay for the car in installments, like a normie. Without full payment on the table, I had no hand to play against a person who didn't need to put his broken Lambo on Lay-A-Way.

Approximately 90 days later, I had the remaining funds squared away and paid to the seller. I was given several assurances that not only was I getting the car, but that the warehouse owner would throw in a bunch of "bonus parts" that the movie studio had stashed somewhere. Sweet.

I had the hotels booked, and made arrangements for a double-axle car trailer that would transport the Murcielago in style. OK, maybe not in style, but it sure beat flat towing it, or, heaven forbid, driving it. You see, the idea was for me and a friend to take my nearly 300,000 mile, 19 year old Ford F350 diesel pickup from where I live in central Florida, acquire a trailer in Dallas, drive to the City of Angels, pick up the Lambo, then drive all the way back with a shiny orange Lamborghini in tow, without getting robbed—a round trip of more than 5000 miles, in the span of about 10 days.

The reason I didn't just have the damn thing shipped is because dealing with shipping companies is like dealing with the bomb squad. No matter how many times they say "everything is under control," there still is a very real risk that things may blow up in your face. With the most expensive car I've ever purchased by a fair margin, you'd better believe that if someone was going to stuff it into a ditch or scratch the wheels while loading it under the influence of extreme sleep deprivation, it was gonna be me.

When D-day finally arrived, I packed a light suitcase with a totally ridiculous number of socks, gathered the saltiest and road-trippiest of foods, picked my friend up, and hit the open highway. One of the things I most enjoy about long road trips is what you learn about the people riding with you. For example, I learned that my travel buddy wasn't very comfortable driving a truck as large as mine, which meant that I was going to see every single one of those five thousand miles roll across the odometer firsthand. No biggie.

Once our California-bound one-truck convoy arrived in Dallas, we realized our first mistake: It had not occurred to anyone to actually measure the trailer we were scheduled to pick up to see if the behemoth of a car we were collecting would actually fit. This isn’t a problem when you buy an MGA—but the Murcielago is eighty-one inches wide, which doesn’t just exceed the loading width of most trailers. It exceeds the width of an F-350. Even the new ones.

I didn’t have the option of just walking away from the trailer in question, as it had been given to me by fans of my YouTube channel, a duo that call themselves “Zero To Awesome”. It was an abandoned race trailer that they acquired and refurbished especially for me, with thoughtful touches such as plastering a white vinyl likeness of my face on the side of the black trailer, with the caption "Here comes Tavarish!" While I truly appreciated the gesture of what was gearing up to be an amazing trailer for me to keep for free, it wasn't exactly subtle.

trailer prep
Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez

Apart from the styling efforts of the boys at Z2A, the main concern for me was to have a secured load on the back of my truck. The problem with this two-axled freebie was that the runners were 78 inches wide and the Lambo… well, as I mentioned, it’s around 81 inches wide. To put that into perspective, the car was exactly as wide as a Hummer H2, and almost an entire foot wider than a Nissan 350Z.

If for some reason I couldn't get the car on the trailer, I'd have no choice but to ship it, an endeavor that would cost me a ton of time and money. Also, my travel companion would never let me live it down. Seeing as we were halfway across the country with a trailer already hitched, however. I figured we'd sort it out when we got there. I mean, hell, I’d never actually measured a Murcielago. I’d just looked at Google, and Google could be wrong.

As you'll find out shortly, it wasn't.

Lamborghini Murcielago trailer at the gas station
Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez

After a glorious two-day drive in which one of our brand-new tires exploded on our brand-new trailer and embedded a brand-new skid mark in my brand-new undies, we successfully made it to the land of traffic, taxes, and THC. The trailer situation had laser-etched itself in my brain as a problem that needed immediate fixing, so I visited the shop of fellow YouTuber Rob Dahm, who had two things we needed to fix the major trailer issue: a Lamborghini Diablo that was a close analog to the Murcielago size-wise, and an angle grinder that could make some last-minute changes to the trailer if need be—and yeah, we needed be.

With the Diablo measured, I ground off the half-inch steel rails on either side of the trailer, which were only probably slightly structural. The runners were still too narrow, but having an inch of rear tire poking out on both sides was better than the car not fitting at all. From there, we departed for the main event, the reason why we, fueled by pork rinds, trail mix, and Chik-Fil-A, traveled west in search of orange automotive gold.

I was going to see my car, the car that gave me sleepless nights and anxious days for the last three months, for the very first time. As we pulled up to the inconspicuous shop, I could already see my orange monster past the giant metal roll-up doors. Its skateboard-like body was lower to the ground than I had imagined, a bit wider, and way, way more orange. Would it fit? Would it run? Would it blow up? All I knew was this: it would be an adventure.

Lamborghini Murcielago rear 3/4
Freddy “Tavarish” Hernandez