Home » The Early Lamborghini Murcielago Came With These Weird Buttons That Confuse The Hell Out Of New Owners

The Early Lamborghini Murcielago Came With These Weird Buttons That Confuse The Hell Out Of New Owners

Murcielago Mystery Buttons
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My day-to-day mental operations often include a lot of daydreaming. Blame books and a car magazine collection that has been growing since 2008. By the time I discovered the Old Site, my brain was full of cobwebs that explored the weirdest avenues of the car internet. 

Flagship Lamborghinis have a special place in my heart. Like a lot of ‘90s kids, my first exposé was a particular installment of Need For Speed on the PlayStation 2. The cover featured a prominent, yellow-painted Murcielago like the one that had just debuted at the 2001 Frankfurt Motor Show and landed in the EA game franchise around 2002. As a kid, I was motivated to own one (well, a digital one) and competed in campaign races to win that particular Murcielago. It was already the perfect color, what more could seven-year-old me ask for? 

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Still fresh in my head, the first copy of DuPont Registry I picked up was in 2006 (technically my brother picked it up but I still have it). The dream machine on the cover? None other than a Murcie. So it’s clear the desirability factor is high, and even as I grow and know better as an adult, it has always been on my radar. 

The First Question New Murcielago Owners Seem To Ask

Lambo Forum Grab
Screenshot: Lambo Power

This brings me to a valuable lesson: no matter how much money you have, nor smarts you acquired to do valuable tasks that earn you said money, it seems buying something like a Murcielago leaves you a bit harebrained.

Case in point, there are forums with commenters that will raise tough questions. They usually go something like this:

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Just bought my first exotic! I have a 2004 Murci Coupe. In the center console I have a few buttons and indicator lights that seem to randomly blink. What is the buttons labeled 1-2-3-4 indicate? 

Or

So im in the process of searching and purchasing my first murcielago. (ive driven a few) but i notice that some of them have a control panel that sits behind the shifter. Ive searched for this with no results. ive also seen this control panel in some later model Diablos. A friend of mine who owns an 03 gated murci has these buttons and he has no idea what they do as well. He says when he presses them he feels no change to the car. So please can anyone finally explain what these buttons are for. If i had to guess Id say something with the suspension, but IDK.

Even Reddit sees this question come up: 

Can anybody tell me what the auto button is for on the 2002 Lamborghini Murcielago?

Obvious grammar errors aside, it seems we’ve had more than a few stumpers who bought a Murcielago unsure of how one particular detail works:

2004 Lamborghini Button Detail 2
Bring A Trailer composite

So, here we have a layout of buttons with up and down arrows sandwiching an Auto option, a 4-3-2-1 countdown, with Auto and Error indicated via blinking lights. Hmmm.

What Do These Buttons Actually Do?

It’s simple, really. The Murcielago suspension has six Koni shocks – two in the front, four on the rear axle – that feature electroniocally-adjustable damping. The mystery buttons are merely the control panel for the dampers, which allow owners to adjust the suspension on the fly for enhanced handling (more damping, stiffer) or a more comfortable ride (less damping, softer). 

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Why does this confuse everyone?

The issue lies in the design. In the Lamborghini, the shocks are connected to a microcontroller (aka PIC) that communicates with a Koni ECU that’s separate from the car’s main ECU. While traditional ECUs from this era are known to be tunable, microcontrollers often contain lines of code that are unmodifiable. Based on what I’ve been able to glean from Lamborghini documents online, the four settings (as you’d expect) correspond to four different levels of stiffness.

Lamborghinimurcielagoinsides1 E1710622028702 2
Image: Lamborghini

The Murcielago was the first new model under Lamborghini’s new owner, Volkswagen, and it was touted as a highly technological alternative to what Ferrari was producing. This is clear in the Lamborghini-provided cutaway above, which touts the vehicle’s AWD system and electronically controlled dampers.

Did The Adjustable Dampers Actually Make A Difference?

Curiously, it’s difficult to find reviews that mention trying out the settings and, even then, I’ve had a hard time finding someone stating the stiffer dampers made a big difference. Car And Driver tested it in a 2003 Murcielago and didn’t find much difference in performance. Specifically, the reviewer notes that:

“…despite the four driver-selectable damper settings, we noticed only two ride flavors: stiff and stiffer. Bumpy corners can induce a kind of lateral skittishness common to suspensionless go-karts.” 

I gotta say, I’m in love with the Murcielago, but the idea of having the feel of a “suspensionsless go-kart” in a 4,000-pound supercar sounds like quite a handful.

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This wasn’t the first time these switches appeared as, shortly after taking over the company, Volkswagen put them in the soon-to-be-discontinued 2000 Diablo. By 2005, the control panel disappeared entirely, with the dampers relegated to a system that was fully automated. This makes a lot of sense. The average supercar buyer, especially the average Lamborghini buyer, probably isn’t interested in adjusting the suspension on the fly.

Lambo Murcielago
Photo: Lamborghini via Newspress

Thus, the “auto” mode was likely the default for most users even if they had the option of choosing the damping setting for themselves.

The latest Lamborghinis now have what the company calls Lamborghini Piattaforma Inerziale Version 2.0, which launched on the Huracan EVO. This is a

“…comprehensive set of accelerators and gyroscope sensors located in the car’s center of gravity, monitoring real-time lateral, longitudinal and vertical acceleration, as well as roll, pitch and yaw rate. The magnetorheological suspension, also upgraded to version 2.0, adapts damping instantaneously following inputs from the LPI.”

Basically, the system is now faster than your brain anyway, so there’s not much in having some little buttons to control it.

Many of the forum posts I found were from people who noticed the “error” light turning on, so the complexity of having an adjustable suspension operated by a set of buttons connected to a separate electronic brain seems like more hassle than it’s worth.

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If you somehow end up with a Murcielago with these buttons, just know I’m insanely jealous. I’m also happy we can shine a little light on what they are, though I have no clue how to fix the issue if you only noticed the buttons because of the flashing “error” light. Rest assured, if your Murci is riding like a suspensionless go-kart, the system is probably working as intended.

If any of you have a Murcielago with the driver-setting adjustable dampers, I’d love to know if you actually use them, and how much of a difference the settings make. Let me know in the comments!

Images: Lamborghini, unless stated otherwise

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MP81
MP81
26 days ago

I mean, don’t label it or anything.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
27 days ago

I’m thinking of getting a set of Tein MonoSports for my MR2 Spyder. Tein has a product called EDFC that can be added on to many of their shocks and apparently gives a really nice range of damping, from slightly softer than stock to brand new laguna seca pavement ready. Of course you can do that manually when headed to the track, but in this case it even has the option to add a GPS module and accelerometer to do full auto and even set up to make the suspension soft or firm on particular roads.

Bobblehead
Bobblehead
25 days ago

The GPS feature sounds really fun.

Cryptoenologist
Cryptoenologist
25 days ago
Reply to  Bobblehead

Guys on the forum really love it!

Lew Schiller
Lew Schiller
27 days ago

Am I alone in reading it as Lamborghini Mucilage whenever I see it?

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
27 days ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

You’re reading is outside of the envelope.

Gubbin
Gubbin
26 days ago
Reply to  Lew Schiller

Look, [Italian agricultural equipment company] [sounds like bat, snot or glue] is a proven formula.
I mean, look at the Husqvarna Svartpilen!

Dead Elvis, Inc.
Dead Elvis, Inc.
26 days ago
Reply to  Gubbin

Ah yes, the legendary Italian Husky!

Gubbin
Gubbin
26 days ago

1987 – 2013, they were indeed Italian.

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
27 days ago

I have to admit my familiarity with this car is only via the Kanye West song about it, “Mercy”. Now that I read this article, I realize the song contains some factual errors. Firstly, the correct spelling is apparently “Murci” not “Mercy”. Second, this car does not in fact have “suicide doors” since I believe that feature usually denotes doors with the hinge on the rear edge of the door, rather than front edge. While this car has cool doors that swing up instead of out, I think Kanye’s use of suicide in this context is problematic. Of course, there are many other more problematic aspects to Kanye but now this particular song is forever ruined for me.

Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
Jesus Chrysler drives a Dodge
27 days ago
Reply to  Aardvark775

This helpful guide should allow you to understand door types better:

https://youtu.be/Odx8JvcyIcY?si=iGo2tDy8jjjpaMJf

Aardvark775
Aardvark775
27 days ago

Great scene!

Rust Buckets
Rust Buckets
27 days ago

That guide was helpful.

Space
Space
27 days ago

You just cemented this web page as the default result in any search engine. For the next 100 years anytime someone searches “Lamborghini Murcielago buttons” they will be gloriously informed by the Autopian. Probably dozens of clicks.

Pedro Soto
Pedro Soto
27 days ago

I really wish cars had some sort of written instruction and explanation kept in a small compartment for moments such as this. Some sort of operator’s guide perhaps.

Space
Space
27 days ago
Reply to  Pedro Soto

Probably lost, at least I hope.

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
27 days ago
Reply to  Pedro Soto

Good idea. You could call it the “car telling book thing”. Everyone would read it.

The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
The F--kshambolic Cretinoid Harvey Park
27 days ago
Reply to  Pedro Soto

It’s in the glove box, but you need to figure out how to open the glove box to get to it, which isn’t trivial anymore.

Adrian Clarke
Adrian Clarke
27 days ago
Reply to  Pedro Soto

If it’s not on the internet, it never happened and doesn’t exist.

Sensual Bugling Elk
Sensual Bugling Elk
27 days ago
Reply to  Pedro Soto

I was elected to lead, not to read.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
27 days ago
Reply to  Pedro Soto

It could even include helpful safety tips, such as don’t drink the battery acid, or don’t replace wiper blades while vehicle is in motion

Last edited 27 days ago by Ranwhenparked
VanGuy
VanGuy
26 days ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

That would be my favorite scene from some kind of car-focused action movie parody/satire

AlfaWhiz
AlfaWhiz
28 days ago

Interesting bit of trivia. Was this the last true lambo? I mean, it was all downhill from here, seems the new ones are wild on the outside but quite sophistated all the way around. Murci was still a bit crazy, in the unhinged, rough around the edges good-old-Lambo way. Either that, or I’m just getting sentimental.

Morgan van Humbeck
Morgan van Humbeck
27 days ago
Reply to  AlfaWhiz

You aren’t even close to alone in that opinion. I would agree, and so would many others. Plus, no manual after Murci

Chronometric
Chronometric
28 days ago

Those are the Need For Speed vehicle selectors. You can have automobile 1, 2, 3, or 4. Choose wisely.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
24 days ago
Reply to  Chronometric

Mine would be the mentioned Murcielago,996 turbo,BMW M5 and a Jaguar XKR

Vanillasludge
Vanillasludge
28 days ago

I feel like the typical Lamborghini owner is not that hard to confuse.

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