Murcielago design flaw?

The Lamborghini Murcielago is an awesome car with an amazing v12 engine and equally impressive stats. The car is a major leap forward from anything that Lamborghini has made in the past; but the car does have its quirks.

There seems to be an interesting flaw in the design of the car that not may people know about. This flaw is that small dents mysteriously form in the roof near its left and right edges. There seems to be two working theories on how these dents get there. The first theory is quite simple – people simply pull themselves out of the car by grabbing the roof. This seems to make sense since the dents are in the general location where you might grab, but I don’t think getting out of the car this way would be comfortable and is certainly not a natural movement for me when I get out of the car.

The second theory is that the dents form from chassis flex – I believe this is the case. Just like how the “B” pillar of old Fox body mustangs and 3rd gen F-bodies get a wrinkle from chassis flex, a similar problem happens to the roof of the Murcielago. The clue that points to this is how much extra bracing the roadster version of the car has to make up for the loss of the roof. This tells me that the roof is a very high stressed area and is adding a lot of stability.

Even though the roof and doors are the only panels of the car that are made from steel, I don’t think the choice of steel for these parts had anything to do with the high stresses in this area. The roof could have been made from carbon and done just as well if not better. The reason why the roof and “A” pillars were made from steel was to most likely simplify manufacturing –  its difficult to mold chamfered edges and reliefs for the doors and windows in carbon because carbon fiber fabric does not stretch like steel in a stamping.

Most of these dents are very minor and are only visible if you are looking for them. Though, the Murcielago I photoed in this post had an off-road “excursion” (must have been some party!) and I noticed that the denting in the roof of that car was much more severe than other Murcielago’s I have seen. Seeing this car is what convinced me that the dents were from a structural problem rather than from people pulling on the roof.

Depending on how the stresses enter the roof of the car, it may not take much to cause these dents/wrinkles to appear. I have read that the Murcielago chassis is quite substantial and has a torsional rigidity value of around 20,000 Nm/° so I don’t think that’s and issue. I am also confident that beam stiffness is also very high. My theory is that there is a very small compressive force that enters the roof of the car, and because of the design of the roof doesn’t give any place for this force to go, the wrinkle gets formed.

Overall, these dents are very minor and do not subtract from the car. It is impossible to test a car like this at the same level as an everyday production car that’s made in the tens of thousands. And because of that, it is understandable that a quirk like this got through. This is just one of those quirks that a low volume sports car has to deal with.

Here’s some different shots of the roof:

You can see the distortion in the reflection, but these pictures also show how these dents would be hard to spot unless you are looking for them.

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1 Comment to "Murcielago design flaw?"

  1. Vijayalakshmi's Gravatar Vijayalakshmi
    March 18, 2012 - 8:29 pm | Permalink

    The same problem has occurred in my Fiat linea and now in my Fiat Punto too.

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