HOW TO BUY A GALLARDO
Restrained? Understated? Not a chance. The Lamborghini Gallardo is the epitome of mid-noughties supercar excess. John Evans finds out more
If you think Lamborghini Gallardos are crazy, you want to meet their owners. Like the lurid shades many of the cars are famously painted in, there’s not a shrinking violet among them.
The model attracts all sorts, from the track-day hero who roasts the car’s brakes to the vinyl fetishist who wraps it in ‘chrome’. It’s why you need to be extra vigilant when buying one, especially given how, when that bull mascot hoves into view, the heart can take over the head.
A more sensible soul might pop to a Porsche showroom for that most rational of supercars, a 911 – a 2013reg S PDK with barely 10,000 miles on the clock is yours for £75,000. The same money will just about buy the rare and sought-after manual Gallardo coupé, but it’ll be nine years older than the Porsche, have covered 32,000 miles and be powered by the less well regarded 493bhp 5.0-litre V10, not the much-improved 552bhp 5.2 that replaced it in 2008.
The same sum will also buy the more plentiful (so cheaper) Spyder automatic – an 06-reg with 27,000 miles and the slightly fruitier 513bhp 5.0-litre that appeared in 2005.
Older, higher-mileage Gallardos such as these make that 911 look a shoo-in but for the fact that the Porsche will never turn heads like the Lamborghini. And that is the Gallardo’s chief appeal.
Well, that and the fact that underneath those eye-catching lines, it’s an Audi in all but name, albeit with, crucially, Lamborghini’s DNA running through it.
With striking looks, explosive performance and the promise of A3 levels of quality and reliability, the Gallardo was a hit from the moment it was launched in 2003. It had a light but stiff aluminium spaceframe, aluminium panels and a mid-mounted 5.0-litre V10 powering all four wheels on demand via a sixspeed manual gearbox or a six-speed E-gear paddle-shift auto. In 2005, along with the engine upgrade, the gearbox ratios were shortened and the suspension made sportier. In 2007, the lightened Superleggera arrived with a 523bhp V10.
Nice, but Ferrari’s F430 begged a more serious response and in 2008 it arrived in the form of the Gallardo LP 560-4, a much-revised model powered by the aforementioned 552bhp 5.2 V10. Lighter and with uprated suspension, it breathed fresh life into the Gallardo, which now faced competition from closer to home in the form of the Audi R8 V10 (now there’s a thought: today, a 70,000-miler is around £50,000).
The revived Gallardo spawned a multitude of derivatives, including the LP 550-2 Balboni, a rear-drive version with 536bhp and named for Lamborghini’s legendary test driver. In 2010, the Superleggera made a comeback, this time with 554bhp. It and other rare spin-offs ensured the Gallardo would end its days in 2013 as easily Lamborghini’s bestselling car. Cue some great used car pickings, but beware the crazy gang.