Rear-Wheel Drive Is Key To The Enthusiast's Soul Lamborghini has created so many Gallardo models over the past eight years that it appears to be peddling more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. The Italian automaker has mixed and matched engines, powertrains, paint colors and upholsteries to fabricate such variants as the SE, Super Trofeo, Nera, Bicolore, Tricolore, Valentino Balboni, Blancpain Edition, Superleggera, Spyder Performante, Super Trofeo Stradale, along with limited editions for Malaysia and Singapore, not to mention the Noctis, a variant developed exclusively for Chinese markets. But only one is my favorite. The Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder is the quintessential enthusiast's Lamborghini, the perfect choice for public roads. Beneath its crisp exterior is a 550-horsepower V10 mated to an aggressive single-clutch automated gearbox set low in the middle of an aluminum space-frame chassis. What matters to most, however, is that the package has been blessed with traditional rear-wheel drive. Despite an abundance of exotics claiming to be driver-oriented sports cars, it is rare to find a vehicle that is not only gorgeous to look at, but overdelivers in all measured performance categories. Machines this entertaining – this passionate – should be registered contraband. The Lamborghini Gallardo was launched way back at the 2003 Geneva Motor Show, but the first customers didn't drop behind the wheel for another year. It didn't take long for the two-seater to prove itself, and as of today, more than 12,000 examples have been sold, making it a runaway success for an exotic car. More than 12,000 Gallardos have been sold, making it a runaway success for an exotic car. As mentioned, Lamborghini has introduced nearly a dozen different Gallardo variants since its launch. Thankfully, some logical nomenclature eases the difficulty when trying to figure out what is hidden inside each vehicle's aluminum skin. First of all, the "LP" designates the "Longitudinale Posteriore" (longitudinally mid-mounted) engine orientation. The second number generally refers to a rounded metric horsepower figure, and after the dash is a single digit reflecting the number of driven wheels. The remaining verbiage describes the bodystyle (closed-roof Coupé or drop-top Spyder) and special designations. Today's sled is the Gallardo LP 550-2 Spyder. Deciphering its genetic code generates an ear-to-ear smile – it's one of the purest Lamborghini models in recent memory. Think of it as a drop-top version of the rare 2009 LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni, an exclusive rear-wheel-drive model built as a tribute to – you guessed it – Valentino Balboni, Lamborghini's legendary chief test driver. (For you trivia buffs, the 2012 LP 550-2 Spyder represents Lamborghini's first rear-drive convertible since the 1998 Diablo SV Roadster.) Hidden beneath its lightweight aluminum bodywork is an aluminum chassis with double-wishbone suspension, also crafted in the same lightweight alloy (the front is fitted with hydraulic lift system that eliminates scraping the low nose on driveway aprons – a godsend). Standard models arrive with beefy iron rotors and aluminum calipers, but the one parked in these photographs arrived fitted with the optional carbon-fiber ceramic brake package boasting lightweight …
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|MPG||13 City / 20 Hwy|
|Transmission||6-spd auto-shift man w/OD|
|Power||562 @ 8000 rpm|
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