Lamborghini is releasing what has to be the umpteenth variation of the Gallardo, this one called the LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni. The answer to the first part of your question — why LP 550-2? is easy. The car sports 550 horsepower and two wheel drive.
Answering the second part of your question — who the hell is Valentino Balboni? — will take a bit more.
Normally, Lambo doesn’t name its cars after people. It names them after bulls, and the special jobs get kind of dull names like Jota. So for Lamborghini to name a car for someone must be a special deal. It is, and so is Valentino Balboni.
Balboni has been the factory test driver out of Sant’Agata Bolognese since old man Ferruccio was building tractors. You got any complaints about turn in with your Miura or the lift-throttle response on your 5000QV Countach, go talk to Balboni, because he’s the guy who dialed it in. If you’ve ever been around Lambo types, the stories about Balboni’s skill and his, let’s call it “commitment,” behind the wheel are legendary. To say he can drive is like saying Joe Satriani can play the guitar. If you’re lucky enough to get a ride with Balboni when visiting the factory, or even better, while picking up your car, it’s a memory you will never forget, assuming your cardiovascular system survived.
Many factory test drivers have reps for being mentally unstable. Even those that are well respected former race drivers like Porsche’s Walter Röhrl can be described as having a cavalier attitude towards their own safety, but Balboni is on a different strata all together. No, we have not had the opportunity to meet him, but here at Autopia we have seen footage of him testing Lambos on everyday public roads at psychotic speeds, dodging horse-drawn wagons and delivery trucks using multiple high-speed blips of the throttle instead of the horn to say “Escalo del mio senso lumaca senza valore!”
So the Lambo named after Valentino must be special.
For starters, Lamborghini is making only 250 of them at just under $220,000 apiece. Sure, it’s got lots of gew-gaws and flashy bits on the inside, but we only care about Valentino cares about, and that is “How fast is it?” Fast. Really fast. With 550 hp motivating only 1,380 kilos, the LP 550-2 hurls from 0 to 62 mph in a astonishing 3.9 seconds and tops out at 199 mph. And there’s none of this “it’s safer” all wheel drive on this ride, oh no. All 550 ponies go through the rear wheels only.
Why? Because that’s the way Balboni likes it.
Originally by Tony Borroz from Autopia on July 1, 2009, 12:56pm