Vain, highly strung, attention-seeking... but enough about me, says Michael Booth

A lthough I realise that this is missing the point by quite a conspicuous margin, for me the most compelling aspect of driving a Lamborghini Gallardo on public roads is the way other people react. On a track, where the the "baby" Lamborghini's four-wheel-drive system could unleash its catapulting thrust without fear of catastrophe, I imagine it would be more invigorating than the naughty bits of BBC Two's Rome.

This is, essentially, an air-conditioned racing car. It looks like something Bruce Wayne might knock together in his spare time, and has a brutal 492bhp, V10 engine mounted just behind the driver's head. Better still, German people oversee its construction which means that, unlike Lamborghinis of the past, it won't spend 90 per cent of its life up on a ramp as a ferrety man in an oil-stained romper suit makes expensive sucking noises with his teeth (although, the tragic payoff is that this also means it looks and feels like a sexed-up Audi inside). And, for £117,000 you get a car that is a mere half a second slower to 60mph, and only 8mph slower overall, than its big brother, the Murciélago, which costs over £50,000 more (a convertible version of the Gallardo was recently unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show for sale in the spring; and a limited-edition, two-tone SE version, pictured, is on sale now for £132,000).

The Gallardo is one of the greatest sports cars in the world right now but, as with just about all the other greatest sports cars in the world, it is a fairly grim prospect on public roads: you can't see much other than a small patch of the road immediately in front of you; you can see nothing to the rear and precious little to the sides; you can't really park it on the street for fear that someone will take offence; the suspension will pound your rump into tartare within a couple of miles; and everyone will assume you kick a bladder of air around for a living.

The noise the engine makes may be colly-wobblingly, gut-wrenchingly thrilling (all the old clichés apply - ripping calico in a tin bucket, the cry of a wounded leopard, Axl Rose at the dentist) but it doesn't half get wearing when you only want to potter down to Blockbuster to drop off a DVD. We've all daydreamed about swanning into the boss's parking space in a car like this but I suspect, in reality, few of us would really want the sound track to our lives to be a highly strung V10.

And who could live with the attention? Wherever I went in the Gallardo (pronounced "gay-ardo", it comes, as with all Lambo names, from a fighting bull) I was stared, pointed and gaped at. People crossing the road in front of me would stop midway and make as if they'd seen a triffid; small boys would grab their mates' phones to take pictures; and white van men would yell witty bons mots ("I've got two of them", "Bring it back when you've finished with it", and, of course, "Prat!") as they passed. It was all too much for me. I took to driving it only after dark, out of town, which rather defeats the object of owning such a peacock's tail of a car.

I do have a better suggestion for how a Gallardo might best be used. Big Brother rejects struggling to cope with normal life should be given one for a week as a kind of mobile attention-generating decompression chamber. They could then tool around city centres being pointed and leered at. After a week even they would be sated.

It's a classic: Lamborghini Islero

If any Lamborghini can be described as "forgotten", the 1968 Islero is it. Elegant, understated, relatively comfortable (with its four seats, practical even) it never really fitted into a Lamborghini philosophy that had begun to be defined by its stable mate, the Miura, before being cemented in place by the demented Countach and all the gold-medallion wearing, hairy-chested Rod Stewart look-alikes who bought them. Ferruccio Lamborghini used an Islero as his daily runabout and was keen that it should appeal to a more mature, sophisticated clientele. It was named after the bull which killed the legendary bullfighter Manolete (Hemingway's "tall, tragic scarecrow") but slow sales meant that the subsequent S version was given flared wheel arches, fog lights and air vents. This did little to tempt buyers whose hearts were set on a Miura and, today, an Islero can be yours for a bargain.

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