Cult test driver Valentino Balboni is in good spirits. After 40 years defining the shape of the Lamborghini’s we drive, he has received the ultimate testament to his life’s work; a car named in his honour.
Hired by Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1967 for his unique sensitivity to the motorcar, the young Balboni set to work fine-tuning the Miura and continued his unsurpassable influence at the heart of one of the world’s most revered automotive brands until his recent retirement.
The Gallardo is the marque’s most successful model, and this new limited edition, the LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni, has a few choice tricks up its tailored sleeve. It’s the first rear wheel drive to be produced since the Diablo, which means rather than cruising the Corniche on ‘drive’ you will need to gather up the reins of this frisky beast and take charge. While less experienced drivers may feel a frisson of fear at this point, it is much misplaced. For true to its Balboni heart, the exhilaration of the drive is balanced by those sensible assistance systems that make the car “exceptionally” safe to drive.
Just as you’d expect, every element of the car’s dynamics has been adjusted to accommodate the shift of power to the rear wheels, and enhance the driving experience. At the core of this new model though is the lightweight power unit that generates 550bhp, thrusting you from 0 to 100 in only 3.9 seconds and taking you, if you dare, to a top speed of 320 km/h. And with the acceleration comes that deafening pitch that’s unmistakably the roar of a pure breed.
The model comes in eight ‘vintage’ colours named rather romantically after the constellations. The style however, takes a more earthly cue that’s rooted in the auto heritage of the 1960s and 70s, with a white and gold strip to mark its sporting pedigree. Echoed in the interior, black leather is contrasted with a Polar white centre console, and discreet, elegant controls. Beautifully integrated are a host of features such as the transparent engine cover, rear view camera, a navigation system with Bluetooth and a lifting system for the front axle, making it easier to negotiate Dubai’s ubiquitous speed bumps.
When it debuted at Frankfurt, the reception was overwhelming. Now, as it takes to the unofficial autobahns of the UAE, millionaire boy-racers are vying for the opportunity to slip behind the wheel. Excited? Well you should be. Because there are only 250 units being built, with just 25 earmarked for the Middle East. With demand being fuelled by collectors and the media, the list price of 820,000 dhs will likely be just an afterthought. After all, you won’t buy this Gallardo for any other motivation than pure desire.
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