Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni – Click above for high-res image gallery

Following in the footsteps of its parent's at Audi, Lamborghini has made all-wheel drive something of a battle cry. What was introduced as an option on the Diablo VT has now proliferated across every model Lamborghini has made since its introduction. Well... until the Balboni edition came along.

To honor the career of the company's long-serving test driver Valentino Balboni, Lamborghini rolled out a purist's version of the Gallardo that did away with the all-wheel drive system in favor of rear-drive only, dropped 10 horsepower and was available with a classic gated manual in the place of the e-gear sequential gearbox.

The Balboni edition – carrying the LP 550-2 designation to mark its metric horsepower output and traction configuration – was set to be the only rear-drive Gallardo available, until Lamborghini announced the Bicolore edition just the other day. Although sold overseas with all-wheel drive, the American version was announced as the first rear-drive LP 550-2 to follow the Balboni.

According to reports coming in from Italy, Lamborghini is now preparing to offer the LP 550-2 as a sort of "entry-level" Gallardo, undercutting the price of other versions while offering the more direct drivetrain set-up. Apparently Lamborghini already sold a number of these LP 550-2s to Asian customers who missed out on the Balboni's limited production run, and will now offer the bare-bones Gallardo as a regular member of the family.

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Photos copyright ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

[Source: - translated]

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