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by George Skentzos

Previous speculation concerning a rear-drive Lamborghini has now been confirmed following the official unveiling of the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni.

Named in honour of veteran Lamborghini test driver, the LP 550-2 Balboni has been limited to just 250 units worldwide and stakes its claim as the only current Lamborghini that delivers its power to the road via its rear wheels alone.

Valentino Balboni was hired in 1967 by company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini himself and has helped perfect many automotive legends, from the Lamborghini Miura of the 60s through to the current Gallardo and Murciélago models.

Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni

“A Lamborghini must always combine the precision of a race car with the reliability of a good friend,” says Balboni.

This model is sure to reintroduce the raging bull persona into the Gallardo range by demanding far more respect and driver involvement while at the same time providing an ensemble of perfectly tuned assistance systems to bring the car back into line when things go awry.

Making the transition from all-wheel to rear-wheel-drive was no simple task, with engineers needing to adjust and tune every element of its driving dynamics, including springs, dampers, stabilisers and even the tyres.

Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni

Even the aerodynamics was also adjusted to take account of the change to the power flow.

The new rear axle differential features a 45 per cent limited slip, which together with a new calibration of the e-gear transmission and ESP system permits greater drift angles, allowing owners to experience the car to its full extent in relative safety.

With slightly less power than the LP 560-4 – 405kW compared to 412kW – and only two wheels to transfer power to the asphalt, the sprint from zero to 100km/h is marginally slower at 3.9 seconds with a top speed of 320km/h.

Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni

Although with a dry weight of only 1,380 kilograms – compared to 1,500 kilograms for its all-paw sibling – the LP 550-2 is sure to be far more nimble around a track.

Each Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni is characterised by a colour strip in white and gold running from the front panel over the roof and parts of the engine cover all the way to the rear spoiler, with inspiration from the classic sports cars from the ‘70s.

This same colour combination has been repeated in the interior with black full leather upholstery highlighted by a colour strip in white on both seats.

Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni

A badge below the left side window bears the signature of Valentino Balboni and the production number of the car.

The exclusivity of the Valentino Balboni also includes more equipment as standard, with the transparent engine cover, the rear view camera, the navigation system with Bluetooth and the lifting system for the front axle that makes it easier to drive over obstacles.

Australian pricing and availability is yet to be announced although the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni will cost £137,900 in the UK, or roughly A$281,594 before taxes.




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