Lamborghini's sleek and unique tribute

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Lamborghini has replaced the all-wheel drive set-up on its latest Gallardo supercar with rear-drive - in honour of its legendary test driver, Valentino Balboni.

The special-edition Lamborghini LP550-2 Valentino Balboni is now the only rear-drive Lambo in production and has undergone a number of chassis and drivetrain revisions in the switch, including a new transaxle for the rear wheels.

Springs, dampers, stabilisers, tyres and the aerodynamics have all been adjusted. The rear differential, with 45 per cent limited slip, has been redeveloped, along with the e-gear transmission. The ESP program has also been adjusted to allow for controlled oversteer.

The engine has also been tuned, with the 5.2-litre V10 unit putting out 510kW and 530Nm of torque, enough oomph to propel the 1380kg car from zero to 100km/h in 3.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 320km/h.

There are also aesthetic updates too, with a range of eight body colours to choose from, together with a white and gold stripe across the car stretching from the bonnet to the rear spoiler. The wheels will be in dark gray, while the brake callipers can be painted in black, orange or yellow.

Inside, full black leather upholstery with white stripes is mated to an all-white centre console, while a limited edition plaque with Balboni's signature ensures exclusivity.

New features include a transparent engine cover, rear-view camera, sat-nav system and a system to raise the front axle in order to clear obstacles. Options include the e-gear transmission and ceramic brakes.

The Balboni model will be limited to 250 units worldwide.

Balboni himself helped to shape many automotive legends, from the Lamborghini Miura of the 60s through to the current Gallardo and Murcielago models.

Hired in 1967 by founder Ferruccio Lamborghini, he has sat at the wheel of every prototype built by Lamborghini. Since 1973, most of the production cars have passed through his hands.

Balboni has now retired but continues to travel as an ambassador of Lamborghini.

The Gallardo is Lamborghini's most successful model of all time - more than 9000 units have been sold - and the Balboni signature car boasts not only its own distinctive design, but its technology is unique too: the 550 stands for the power output and the 2 is for rear-wheel drive.

Originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald

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