The LP550-2 Valentino Balboni edition Gallardo is both a story of an amazing piece of machinery, and one of a man who knows what it is to climb through the various positions at Lamborghini. Valentino Balboni was hired by Ferruccio Lamborghini, the capitano, in 1967 as a maintenance man for the service department. He later became the chief test driver at Lambo, and now is in semi-retirement as the company’s customer relations ambassador.
In honor of one of their longest serving employees Lamborghini has decided to produce 250 special edition Gallardo’s bearing Balboni’s name.
The Balboni edition Gallardo is very similar to its siblings, there are however some key differences. The Balboni is still powered by a V-10, 5.2 liters, making 542 horsepower and 398 lb-ft of torque. The drive train is where the majority of differences lie. The Balboni available only as a rear wheel drive model, no al- wheel drive option available. The Balboni also comes standard with a manual six speed transimission, Lambo’s e-gear transmission is an expensive, and fun hogging, $10,000 option. With the lack of an all-wheel drive system the Balboni is 97 pounds lighter then its counterparts.
The Balboni is also the slowest version of the Gallardo. This has to do with not all four tires trying to influence the rotation of the earth; an all-wheel drive, e-gear equipped Gallardo can do 0-60 in 3.2 seconds, while it takes the Balboni arrives there .4 seconds later at 3.6 seconds. Another reason for this difference is that the Balboni is not influenced by launch control and computers that come between the driver and the driving experience, providing the driver with a much more visceral feeling when driving the Balboni.
The skid pad ratings may not impress many either, given the segment the Balboni resides in. At a not so mind altering .93g the Balboni corners will. However, these numbers are affected by the fact that the Balboni tends to understeer, this requires the driver to use throttle input to rotate the vehicle; which the V-10 does happily when asked. The fact that the Balboni understeers should not scare prospective buyers away from the vehicle, as understeer is a good safety net to have as it is easier to recover from a situation where the car is understeering as opposed to spectacular oversteering drifts.
The Balboni edition Gallardo is a perfect example of a sports car that is simple, basic, and not misleading in its intended purpose. It provides the driver with the rush of adrenaline you expect from a sports car, and is also forgiving when you approach the vehicle’s limits. The story of Valentino Balboni is inspiring and provides hope for those of us out there that starting from the bottom is not always a bad thing, maybe some day you too will have an epic piece of machinery named in your honor.