This is the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni, named after Lamborghini's favourite test driver. The little Lambo is the maker's most successful model ever and until now has been four-wheel drive only. It seems fitting, then, that if it's going to make a proper lairy rear-wheel drive version it should name it after the man who's officially best at driving its cars.
He has helped develop every Lamborghini made since 1973, the lucky bleeder, and although he's retired now, he still gets paid to travel the globe telling anyone who'll listen how good Lamborghinis are. If you're wondering about the rest of the name, the 'LP' bit stands for 'longitudinale posteriore' - referring to the engine's mid-mounted lengthways status - and the '550-2' part is its power output in metric horsepower (it's 542bhp to us) and two-wheel drive.
Dispensing with the four-wheel drive gubbins makes this Gallardo (which is sadly limited to just 250 copies) 30kg lighter, although it loses 10bhp to the LP560-4
and is two tenths slower to 62mph - taking 3.9 seconds. The top speed made possible by the 5.2-litre V10 is 199mph.
Because of the rear-wheel drive configuration, Lambo has redeveloped the drivetrain, giving the car a revised limited slip differential that will allow for 'greater drift angles', as the maker puts it.
Eight colours are available, each with a suitably exotic sounding name and each with a white and gold stripe running from front to back to mark the car out as unique. So, buyers can choose between Nero Noctis or Bianco Monocerus, for example or, as Michael Jackson used to say, black or white. The wheels are always dark grey, but the brake callipers come in black, orange or yellow depending on the colour of the car. Each example gets a white leather centre console and a plaque with its model number on too.
If you fancy one you better stop reading this and get some overtime in, sharp, because it costs £138,000 plus VAT, though you'll probably be able to put it onto eBay for a profit anyway.
Mark Nichol - 2 Jul 2009