By on December 18, 2014

5502

The idea of a rear-wheel-drive Gallardo was so obvious that it’s a wonder it took six years for it to appear on the market as a limited edition and another year after that to join the standard lineup. Indeed, the 550-2 was popular from the moment it appeared in dealer order sheets, though not for the reason you’d initially suspect.

We’d all like to believe that the “purist” Gallardo sold well because Lamborghini owners naturally gravitated towards a more thrilling, more authentic Lamborghini experience, preferably with a manual transmission. A few people did stump up for the mack daddy clutch-and-RWD combo, but far more people chose the 550-2 Spyder e-gear. After all, the 550-2 was cheaper than the 560-4 we discussed yesterday. Why not use the savings to pay for the droptop, particularly given the fact that you, the Lamborghini customer, live in a sunshine state anyway?

So though you will occasionally see an AWD Gallardo coupe hammering through some miserable weather in Manhattan or Chicago or Powell, Ohio, the customers always really wanted the cheapest convertible they could get. Thus, the triumph of the 550-2; not as a fine-tipped, metal-topped brush with which to paint the fastest laps on a concrete canvas, but as the lowest number in the list of Spyder suggested retail prices.

Our test car is half-pure, if you will; though it has no canvas top, it is equipped with the same e-gear transmission seen in the LP560-4. Like most of its 550-2 siblings, it has a more conservative front and rear fascia than the AWD variant. As an “AP” version, it boasts a quilted-leather interior. This is surprisingly relevant to the trackday task at hand. Observe:

2009-lamborghini-gallardo-lp560-4-interior-photo-195332-s-1280x782

In a standard Gallardo, that quilted roof is replaced by a double-bubble felt headliner that offers a full extra inch and a half of headroom. The difference that makes in the comfort of operation for taller drivers wearing a helmet is impossible to exaggerate. In this 550-2, I had to keep my head tilted at all times. No amount of slouching could let me sit upright in it. Had I brought my top-vented helmet to the track that day instead of my open-face instructor’s model, I’d have been unable to drive the 550-2 around the track.

Which would have been a genuine shame.

Somewhere inside my twisted, oft-broken ribcage beats a heart that absolutely despises this automobile’s undisputed and massive superiority over the 560-4. After all, it’s the height of douchebag spec-sheet press-kit in-flight journalism to mindlessly prefer the “right-wheel-drive” version of a supercar. I could have delivered this verdict to you from my home office and thus enjoyed four days playing Fleet Foxes covers on my ragged-wood ’74 Gibson J-40 instead of suffering through over one hundred and fifty teeth-grinding coaching sessions in Oklahoma. Any idiot with a twelve-month-old username on Jalopnik can tell you that the 550-2 is better. How I prayed for this car to suck as I took my cramped seat behind the wheel and prepared to pull onto the front straight at Hallett. I was dead set against the white Lamborghini, stabbing from hell’s heart into its flat-surfaced face with all the hate I could muster. The words came unbidden to my mind’s typewriter as I opened the door:

A cynical attempt to persuade nouveau-riche keyboard racers that they aren’t being coddled by everything from hyper-active ESC to safety-first tire stagger, the 550-2 proves to be the two-percent milk of Lamborghinis, a Lambo For Dummies too ill-educated to understand the benefits of AWD on the racetrack…

But look ye, Starbuck, what is said in heat, that thing unsays itself. And it took just one turn — one turn for me to put aside the ridiculous conceit of hating the RWD Gallardo for hate’s sake. How joyously it bent into the first fast left, the steering both smoother and lighter for the loss of the front axles! How it balanced in the midcorner on the throttle, and how it leapt from the exit with just a touch of stutter-step as the V10 fed a Diablo’s worth of twist to the forty-five-percent differential! I pulled the paddle and the shift was smoother and faster than in its quad-driven sister. Over the blind hill I went as the speedometer rang the triple digits and I pulled the paddle again and was heartily shoved in return and then finally it was time to trust the brakes, that trust returned with a shudder of the ABS and an arresting-hook swing of the speedo’s needle even as I roared down through the gears to second for the track’s slowest corner.

Forget the spec sheet, for it fails to show you the most important item included when you choose the cheapest Gallardo: joy. There’s a tradeoff, of course: when it rained, the lack of a driven front axle made everything more of a challenge, including full-throttle acceleration in a straight line. In that respect, however, it was no worse than a Corvette.

The rest of the thing is as the LP560-4: understated interior even with the quilted leather, plenty of visibility, a feeling of manageable size, an engine that manages the neat trick of being torquey and rev-happy, a suspension that balances the competing demands of ride and handling well enough to work on an ancient racetrack.

With less visual gingerbread than virtually any other Gallardo variant, in the Econoline-van white paint, and already suffering from the not-quite-Lamborghini proportions that failed to shock even back in 2004, this car definitely won’t impress anybody in Palm Springs or Miami. Your neighbors will wonder why you can’t afford a Huracan, and your frenemies on the Internet will automatically assume you paid whatever the lowest listing price on eBay for any Gallardo is. The Estonian call girls and NYU SeekingArrangement adventurers will turn up their noses at your attempts to climb the supercar ladder. At the Cars and Coffee, it will be suggested behind your back that you own the Acura ILX of Lamborghinis.

All of that, as well as everything else that troubles you, can be safely and easily forgotten the moment you exit pit lane at your local track. Dismissed by the posers, this bull is, instead, the toreador’s choice.

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34 Comments on “Supercars To Go, Third Place: Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 AP...”


  • avatar
    Waterview

    “…this car definitely won’t impress anybody in Palm Springs or Miami. Your neighbors will wonder why you can’t afford a Huracan, and your frenemies on the Internet will automatically assume you paid whatever the lowest listing price on eBay for any Gallardo is. The Estonian call girls and NYU SeekingArrangement adventurers will turn up their noses at your attempts to climb the supercar ladder. At the Cars and Coffee, it will be suggested behind your back that you own the Acura ILX of Lamborghinis.”

    This fact, plus your suggestion of the simple “joy” it provides is more than enough incentive. Buy it ’cause you like it, not because it might impress your “friends”. Great review.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      I have not driven a Gallardo, but the new Huracan I test drove last week was a hoot. Amazingly fast with a capital “F”. No way could I test the limits of this car on a public road. Only two things were missing — RWD and a clutch peddle. Same thing goes for the Gallardo — I love to find a gently used one in RWD and manual configuration. Too bad Lamborgini made so few of them. I’d take one over the Huracan in a heartbeat.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    Maybe it’s me, but I like this cleaner looking version the same way I like the earlier Countach sans body kit and wing. I think the Gallardo has a terrific pure look to its shape.

    Then again, I’ll never buy one, so I am a a useless marketing sample.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    These quilted interiors really do just make me laugh. The rebirth of brougham is something to behold. I can’t wait till Ford and Chevy start trying to sell quilted leather/suede interiors for the Mustang and Camaro.

  • avatar
    ellomdian

    “The Estonian call girls and NYU SeekingArrangement adventurers will turn up their noses at your attempts to climb the supercar ladder.”

    Having met a small handful of the latter… /shudder…

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    This series: BORING.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    If you’re buying just for status, any Lambo will get the girls–just some more than others. If you’re buying for FUN, then get the one you like the most and ignore the pans by those who think they know better. A good driver in an OK car can blow away a bad driver in the greatest car. That’s all there is to it.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I’m surprised that even Lambo shoppers will buy cheaper variants to save some money, maybe they should consider an Audi?

  • avatar
    Dingleberrypiez_Returns

    “…this car definitely won’t impress anybody in Palm Springs or Miami. Your neighbors will wonder why you can’t afford a Huracan, and your frenemies on the Internet will automatically assume you paid whatever the lowest listing price on eBay for any Gallardo is. The Estonian call girls and NYU SeekingArrangement adventurers will turn up their noses at your attempts to climb the supercar ladder. At the Cars and Coffee, it will be suggested behind your back that you own the Acura ILX of Lamborghinis.”

    As amusing and well written (and possibly true) as this is, I still can’t get over TTAC’s obsession with other people’s perceptions. Like seriously, this article is presumably about which supercar is the best performer, yet so much of it is focused on a) enthusiasts preconceptions, or b) what your neighbor will think. But hey, people seem to enjoy it, so who am I to question it. Sometimes I think this site should be rebranded “The Truth About What Internet Car Guys Think About Other People’s Cars” but I guess TTAWICGTAOPC doesn’t have the same ring.

    • 0 avatar
      koshchei

      A Lambo or its ilk driven off the track is entirely about perception; It’s worthless for anything else.

      To quote Jack’s closing statement: “Dismissed by the posers, this bull is, instead, the toreador’s choice.” Bullfights don’t take place in traffic on city streets at posted speed limits, commuting does.

      • 0 avatar
        Dingleberrypiez_Returns

        Right, because a Toyota Camry article on TTAC wouldn’t have the exact same type of content… (that’s sarcasm by the way). You apparently haven’t been around here too long.

        Listen, I understand that this is Jack’s schtick. And that’s fine because he’s a great writer and that’s his established personality. The problem is when every other author exhibits the same cynicism; TTAC has lost a lot of contributors over the years, and the POV has become really one dimensional.

        • 0 avatar
          TEXN3

          It’s obvious to me that you haven’t been around for very long. This has been the TTAC way for at least 10 years, or at least when I started visiting. This was the same dryness that many contributors have brought forth since RF. I for one find it interesting and enjoyable. Like cars, there are plenty of other options for you if this style doesn’t suite your tastes.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            TTAC is awesome for its scope of opinions and the enthusiasm for “normal” cars that always wins out over the elitist silliness that Baruth likes to both parade and savage.

            Where else will a 14K Mitsu get at least triple the number of comments as any “supercar”?

          • 0 avatar
            Dingleberrypiez_Returns

            Lol bro, I’m not going to get into a pissing contest about who’s been frequenting this site the longest. Obviously you know this site has lost a number of contributors who didn’t spend half their articles focusing on other people’s perceptions. It’s not even a secret.

            The same tired old voices keep holding on when others leave for greener pastures… which is even more true of the comments section. I, like many others, hardly ever read the articles here and read the comments even more infrequently. And believe me- I’m not the only one.

            PS- FWIW, I tried to delete my original comment immediately after posting because truthfully IDGAF.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I don’t see how any car that looks like this can be described as boring. It’s a knee high Italian car making all sorts of snarly noises.

    It merely looks like a PRACTICAL spaceship as opposed to some sort of Buck Rogers fantasy – oh the humanity!

    Personally, I would still rather have a Ferrari 308 in something other than red. Pretty car, even if it is slower than my station wagon.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    There goes my free TTAC shirt.

    This car, with a manual, is extremely desirable to me.

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