In the year 2014, Lamborghini had produced 30,000 cars in 50 years and 14,000 of these were Gallardo’s, this car gave the company the funds and celebrity it needed to make Audi really double down on the brand and secure its future as a company. Today I want to talk to you about the Gallardo, so let’s get into it.
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In 1987, the last Baby Lambo the Jalpa was being phased out of production and the company had been looking for a replacement. The company had been working with legendary designer Marcello Gandini on the P140, a concept car which was the first ever Lamborghini with a V10 engine. In the same year Lamborghini was sold to Chrysler and then the Gulf Oil Crisis meant that the car was completely shelved as they decided that the car would not be able to justify its development costs.
In the 90’s Chrysler once again started looking for a smaller Lamborghini to follow on from the Jalpa and asked italdesign to begin working on a concept car. When Lamborghini was sold to Megatech, a US company trying to rival Ferrari, they continued investment into the Italdesign concept car and by 1995 had a fully functional prototype with the same V10 engine that was earlier developed by Lamborghini in the 80’s. The headlights were inspired by the Miura, sort of, and the car was introduced at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show.
In 1998, the Volkswagen Group brought the Lamborghini company, who Shelved the Calà and handed over complete control of the automaker to its subsidiary Audi AG who had more experience producing both luxury and high performance cars. In 2001, Audi unveiled the Murcielago and would go on to sell 4,099 in ten years which was double that of the Diablo which it succeeded. The problem is that this is Volkswagen and other than Bugatti, it doesn’t produce incredibly low number cars so Audi knew it needed a car for the brand which was a commercial success.
In the early 2000’s the company set about building a platform for a new Baby Lambo, something that hadn’t existed since the Jalpa ended production in 1988. What it produced was truly stunning and so successful that Audi decided to build their own R8 using the same chassis and engine.
The company handed design control of the vehicle to Luc Donckerwolke who had designed the Murcielago and before that the Skoda Octavia, which gives him some serious street credit, the car’s success allowed him to go on to also design the R8 as well as the Bentley Flying Spur and the Seat Ibiza so it was a mixed bag. The car was based on the Lamborghini Calà concept car which was shown at the 1995 Geneva Motor Show.
The car is stunning, it kept that angular shape which Lamborghini had been famous for since the Countach and curved it out more than they had on the last Diablo, the VT 6.0, which was produced under Audi also by the same designer. The lights at the front were extended down and the front of the car given an aggressive look. The car has a low down presence and the scoops along with the sloping roof line giving it a look that could cut through the air precisely.
The back of the car had interesting tail lights which look like they are moving even when the car is standing still and the round rear exhausts are the perfectly subtle way to clean up the aggressive look of the car while still keeping the car overall looking aggressive.
The interior was a new refined style for Lamborghini with most of the components coming straight out of an A8 which means the controls would all work perfectly. The car was also the same length as a Ford Focus, which is madness when we talk about the engine.
Although this is a baby Lambo, it still had to compete on price with the Ferrari 458 and as such it would need to hold up in terms of performance, but it couldn’t get the V12 that Lamborghini is famous for. Instead Audi gave the car one of its V10 engines and highly modified it, the 4,993 cc (5.0 L) 90 degree V10 was even firing and produced 493 bhp and 376 lb-ft of torque so this was in now way an under powered car and the V10 engine sounded glorious.
The engine was matched with a choice of transmissions, one of which was a six-speed gated manual transmission which is the coolest option for real drivers or you could have the “Flappy Paddle” automatic gearbox, known as E-Gear.
Given the light weight design matched with all of that power the V10 gave it the car was very fast for the price. The 0-60 time was 4.1 seconds and the beast would continue on to 192 mph, the last of the sub 200 mph Lamborghini’s with the exception of the Urus that came in 2017. The only downside to this cars performance is the early paddle shift E-Gear automatic did not have the double clutch back in these days so the manual was the better choice.
This car was such a success that it sold over 14,000 units during it’s 10 year run from 2004-2014 which made it the most successful Lamborghini ever, a title which its successor managed to take from its cold dead hands in just five years. Although the big V12 Lamborghini will always be the one you want, at least the Baby Lambo can offer something to the more working class amongst us.