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Monday, December 7, 2009

2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni

After reading the previous post about the 2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, there is a good chance you were thinking that the LP560-4 sat at the top echelon of performance. That may have been true, but Lamborghini has once again outdone themselves. They did so in the form of the 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni. Lamborghini debuted this special edition Gallardo in honor of their world renowned test driver, Valentino Balboni, who retired after marking his 40th year with Lamborghini.

Having a car as prestigious and iconic as a Lamborghini created in your name means that you more than likely did something monumental in your life to deserve it. Valentino Balboni was a huge asset to Lamborghini through his 40 years of work. He began working for Ferrucio Lamborghini in 1967 as an assistant test driver alongside driver Bob Wallace. Their job was to test drive each prototype and report back to Ferrucio Lamborghini in order to better the cars. Along with this job, they drove every Lamborghini to come off of the production line to make sure everything was in perfect condition for the customer that the car was going to. After Wallace retired, Valentino Balboni became the chief test driver for Lamborghini and continued his work for 40 years with Lamborghini and has just recently retired. In honor of all of the years of hard work that Balboni devoted his life to, Lamborghini named their newest special edition Gallardo after him. (For a complete biography of Valentino Balboni, click here.)

To the untrained eye, the Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni may look like any other Gallardo out on the streets but it is far from that. The LP550-2 underwent various cosmetic changes including new Scorpius wheels from the Gallardo Superleggera, a new white and gold stripe down the center of the car, a re-designed interior that carries the striped theme throughout the car, and 8 different body color options. Besides cosmetic changes, the LP550-2 underwent a series of changes under the hood. In the name, LP550-2, LP stands for Longitudinale Posteriore which is the positioning of the engine in the car (positioned in the rear), 550 stands for the jaw-dropping 550 horsepower that the Gallardo puts out, and the dash 2 stands for the all new rear wheel drive system that Lamborghini gave this car. The Gallardo underwent suspension upgrades, the 550 horsepower 5.2 Liter V-10 engine was tuned to provide ample torque for the cr, and the car also had a drive-train swap making it rear-wheel drive. The fact that it is rear-wheel drive is what makes this car so unique. All other current model Lamborghinis use a 4 wheel drive system that provides superb handling, but Lamborghini wanted to take this special edition back to the roots of Lamborghini and really give it that vintage feel. They believe that the rear-wheel drive lets the driver feel complete control over the car and provides a much more exciting driving experience. To further their goal of making this the ultimate driver's car, the Balboni is offered with a 6-speed manual transmission instead of the E-gear, though it is still available upon special order. Road and Track editor Patrick Hong reiterates the fun-factor this car has : "That feeling of pure joy can still be felt today, and it only enhanced the thrill of testing the new Gallardo Balboni, a most fitting tribute to a superb young test driver who must have been only in his 30s back then...." This special edition Gallardo will be limited to a production run of 250 cars with a base price starting at $219,800.

Now I could go on and on giving stats on the car, but I would rather talk about my opportunity to meet the legend himself and his special edition car. On Friday, August 28th, I had the chance to meet Valentino Balboni at the unveiling of the Gallardo LP550-2 at St. Louis Motorsports and I took it. I went to this big event and when I arrived the car was under cover (shown at top of page) and I stood around awaiting his arrival because he is one of my 'heroes' and I was so excited to finally meet the legend I have looked up to. When he finally came out, he made a small speech and it was plain to see how grateful he was to have been honored this way and what a humble guy he was. He started up the car for us and did some revs and I got to hear the beautiful sound of that 550 horsepower V10. Afterward, he was open for photo-ops and I took the opportunity to meet him and ask him many questions I had been dying to ask him. He was such a great man to talk to; he answered my questions with great enthusiasm, shook my hand, took pictures with me (below), and signed several autographs. Normally, if you think of someone that important and famous, it is assumed that they would be stuck up and not very friendly. Valentino Balboni was the complete opposite and I respect him even more because of that. Mark Smeyers of Italiaspeed.com said, "
Valentino today is quite simply a walking encyclopaedia of everything that is Lamborghini related, a genuine, very enthusiastic and likeable person who always has time to share his overriding passion with the many enthusiasts' of the brand." That quote basically sums up my opinion of Balboni and why it was such an honor to meet him.

The 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni is a true piece of automotive innovation and it was named after the most deserving man alive.

*Note: All images and videos on this post were created by and are property of Ryan Cohen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

2009 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4

Lamborghini's 'baby Lambo', the Gallardo (above right), underwent a complete re-designing in late 2008 after being in production since 2004. The new Gallardo is named the Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. LP stands for Longitudinale Posteriore which is the positioning of the engine in the car (positioned in the rear), 560 stands for the impressive 560 horsepower that the Gallardo puts out, and the dash 4 stands for the 4 wheel drive system the car uses. The Gallardo now has a more lighter, more powerful 5.2 liter V-10 engine putting out 398 lb-ft of torque that can propel the car from 0-60 in 3.2 seconds and take the car up to a red-line limited 202 mile per hour. The LP560 still retains the two choices of transmission of a 6-speed manual or the Lamborghini designed 6 speed 'E-Gear' (clutch-less manual). The new transmission provides 40% quicker shift times than that of the previous Gallardo. Of course, with a 560 horsepower V-10 engine, fuel economy that makes Al Gore happy isn't available; it gets a disappointing 12 miles per gallon. Who cares about the fuel economy when you get an exhaust note sounding like this? Tony Quiroga, a reviewer from Car and Driver Magazine, said "There are times when we actually wish the Lambo was just a bit slower so we could revel in the music for longer than bursts lasting only a few seconds." Quiroga, along with many other reviers were none too impressed with the $15,000 optional ceramic brakes -"With the exception of the optional brakes, this Lambo is so good that the may have just been toppled."

The Gallardo not only underwent a drive-train upgrade, but the body was completely re-designed for 2009. With a new front and rear fascia, the Gallardo looks as mean as the engine it houses. It received stunning new Y-shaped LED running lights underneath the Bi-xenon headlights as well as taillights with the same Y-shaped LED design causing the Gallardo to look great at any time of day. The entire body was molded to provide better aerodynamics that are a great factor in making the car be able to obtain 200+ mile per hour speeds. If being hit by a Lamborghini while walking down the street has ever concerned you, you can stop worrying because Lamborghini has designed the bumper in accordance with Europe's directives to protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. The bumpers on the car have been made with special materials designed to lessen the force of an impact making the car safer. Below is the Gallardo LP560-4 on the right next to the previous model Gallardo Spyder on the left. The difference in styling is amazing.

When taking advantage of Lamborghini's individualism program, Ad Personam, the Gallardo can be created in any way you like it. The customer can choose anything from the five different types of wheels to the color of the body to the color of the stitching on the steering wheel. The interior can be crafted of fine Italian leather in any color combination possible or an optional luxurious Alcantara suede in black. With either material, the customer can choose any color stitching and can even choose the pattern of the stitching. How is that for fine details? I personally have seen beautiful color combinations on the interior as is shown here in my video. Ad Personam is responsible for the amazing color combinations that are found in the interior Lamborghinis and the car's exterior is able to customized as well. The car comes in all of the standard colors including the bright Lamborghini oranges and yellows and with Ad Personam, the customer can order a special matte black, nero nemesis, a matte white, Bianco Canopus, or a matte brown, marrone apus. When you are choosing colors, you can choose matte, metalic, or gloss and the program really live up to it's motto of "Think the impossible." When you are paying a base price of $202,000 dollars for your car, being able to choose every fine detail you want is almost expected.

With prices ranging up to $260,000 dollars, this car is not cheap, but with the incredible looks, power and handling, it is completely worth it. This car may not be someone's daily driver, but when they do drive it and they turn the key and hear that V-10 roar to life, they realize what a great piece of Lamborghini engineering they are sitting in.

*Note: All images and videos on this post were created by and are property of Ryan Cohen.