When Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to start building cars, it wasn’t just one model. After being insulted by Enzo, he set out to build a lineup of cars to challenge Ferrari. Cars like the Uracco, Jalpa, Islero, and Jarama were alternatives to the Miura and the Countach. When Chrysler took control in the late 80’s they castrated the raging bull down to one model, the Diablo.
While it was the essential car of the 90’s, Audi had a vision that Chrysler couldn’t compete with. Strapped for cash, Lamborghini changed hands a few times before being sold to Audi in 1998 for only $110 Million. This gave the engineers in Sant’Agata access to the latest technologies and quality.
And more importantly, Lamborghini had the economic freedom to develop a second car. Work on the Diablo’s replacement was well underway, and the Murcielago did not disappoint. But the top secret project was a smaller car with V10 power instead of the traditional V12.
Taking its name from a famous breed of fighting bulls, the Gallardo entered the ring in 2004. It arrived with a 5 Liter V10 and All Wheel Drive. For $165,900, it sent 493 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque through a six-speed manual transmission. An optional E-gear automatic was essentially a hydraulic system that controlled the clutch and shifter. The beauty of this system is that the E-gear can be converted to stick shift in a weekend, and you can sell the expensive hydraulics for a tidy profit.
As the Chief Test Driver, Valentino Balboni made sure the car performed flawlessly before it was introduced. This meant countless hours testing the engine, brakes, transmissions and tires to their destruction. Although manufacturers still test prototypes, there will never be another person who worked each day to beat a Gallardo like a rental car. When he retired in 2010, Lamborghini built 250 “Balboni Edition” Gallardos with more power and less weight. As with the Superleggera and the Performante, the special edition models are still highly collectible.
His efforts paid off, because the Gallardo has far less issues than most production cars. Not just exotics, the Gallardo is reliable compared to Toyota, Honda, and the world’s most praised econoboxes. An oil change can be done in your driveway with normal tools, at a normal price. Brake rotors are under $40 each, and even the best brake pads are under $200. The Gallardo changed the way everyone thought about an Italian Exotic, and that is why it had a decade of innovation until production ended. Lamborghini built 14,022 examples over ten years, making it their most successful model.
Audi saw how the world embraced it, and they decided to build their own version. Have you heard the good news? If you want softer styling and relaxed handling, the Audi R8 is a German Gallardo. Both cars represent the last manual transmission supercars. They have aged well, and their abilities are still extraordinary. The best part is the price. Many well-kept examples can be found under $100,000, which is a far cry from the inflation-adjusted sticker price. A 2004 coupe would $226,433 today!
Find a six-speed Spyder and hang on for a few years, when the world of automatics comes to their senses you will have a fortune in your garage. The car gained power & grip, chopping a half-second off the 0-60 time from 2003 to 2013. You can do it in 3.4 seconds on your way to 202 mph and not break the bank. Click the link below, you won’t regret it!