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Car of the Year 2010: No. 4 Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni

Paul Meyers and Robert Ross

Balboni’s Baby Bull
Unlike its crosstown rival, Ferrari, which merely names its factory streets after star employees, Lamborghini honors its Hall of Fame workers with a namesake limited edition. The Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni bears the name of the Italian automaker’s chief factory test-driver, who began his career in Sant’Agata in 1967 and retired last year after completing work on his eponymous car. Designed to appeal to Lamborghini lovers who appreciate the traditional attributes of rear-wheel drive, the Balboni-edition Gallardo is limited to 250 units. Hitting the LP 550-2’s throttle on a straightaway spins the tires, while hitting the throttle through a corner can spin the car; unlike the standard-production Gallardo LP 560-4, which features a forgiving all-wheel drive, this baby bull is for drivers who have what it takes to make Valentino Balboni proud. —Paul Meyers

 

Less-is-More Lamborghini
There was a time when the only Lamborghini with all-wheel drive lived in the desert and could be equipped with a mounted machine gun. Today all of the bovines from Sant’Agata drive all four wheels, except the newest Gallardo, known as the LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni. It appealed to serious drivers in our group who appreciated the characteristics of this simpler, lighter Gallardo. Mastering controlled oversteer on Napa’s back roads was not on every driver’s dance card, but those who came back with a grin clearly got what this very special car is all about. —Robert Ross

[ SPECIFICATIONS ] Configuration Mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car Engine 5.2-liter V-10 Transmission 6-speed automated manual Power 550 hp at 8,000 rpm Torque 398 ft lbs at 6,500 rpm Curb Weight 3,042 pounds Zero to 60 3.9 seconds Top Speed 199 mph Base Price $219,800 Lamborghini, www.lamborghini.com

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