When you’re Valentino Balboni, you are one of the most important and heralded persons in the automotive world. Whether it be by enthusiasts jealous of Balboni, or because he’s just an all-round cool guy. You may have seen him somewhere around the world helping Lamborghini to unveil a new model, at a special Lamborghini event of other sorts, or on Top Gear or in some sort of Lamborghini piece by a major news source.
Balboni started at Lamborghini in 1967 as a mechanic and quickly rose to being the official test driver of the company soon thereafter. He was asked personally by founder Ferruccio Lamborghini. Since that time, no one has driven more Lamborghinis, and no one has had more say in them. But, all good things must come to an end.
Valentino Balboni has served as chief test driver and famous Lamborghini ambassador for the company for a little over 40 years. He decided that it was time to say goodbye and retire to his test driver home, wherever that may be.
In honor of the great chief test driver and friend to the company, Lamborghini have made the LP550-2 Valentino Balboni edition, with a limited run of only 250 units. The 550 is the horsepower, and the 2 stands for the rear-wheel drive only configuration. A six-speed manual is standard, with an option for e-gear. The Balboni Gallardo is only in rear-wheel drive due to Valentino’s preference when driving around the track.
I think it’s fantastic that Lamborghini have honored their old friend and truest supporter this way. And the fact that they made it to his specs, is even better. It goes to show how they feel about the man who has been just as crucial to their existence as poppa Ferruccio himself.
All of the same LP560-4 options are there, except it weighs a lot less at 3,042lbs. That’s compared with 3,307lbs for the LP560-4. Taking away all-wheel drive did a lot, but it’s also limited to 199mph top speed, versus the regular LP560-4s 202mph top speed… That’s sad.
The only color for the Lamborghini LP550-2 Valentino Balboni is the orange with white stripe you see in the pictures. Also, the stripe carries on into the interior with the seat stripes and also the center console being white. Very cool attention to detail, I must say.
Another honor was made to Valentino was by Automotive Addicts with a video documentary of the new LP550-2. They call the new car, “The fastest monument ever built”. What a great tagline!
Official press release, pictures and video below:
Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni
Driving fun with absolute precision
Sant’Agata Bolognese, 30th June 2009 – He has long been revered as one of the many
legends surrounding the world’s most uncompromising sports car brand – Valentino Balboni,
a remarkable test driver with his own personal cult status. Automobili Lamborghini now
presents a model in his honour and bearing his name – the
Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni.
The latest version of the Gallardo, Lamborghini’s most successful model of all time – overall,
more than 9,000 units of the model range have already been produced – boasts not only its
own distinctive design and exclusive equipment, but its technology is unique too, as
indicated by the model badge: the 550 stands for the power output in hp and the 2 is for
rear wheel drive.
For several decades, Valentino Balboni has had a distinct influence on the character of the
super sports car bearing the sign of the bull. With his fine-tuning and testing work, he has
helped to shape many automotive legends, from the Lamborghini Miura of the 60s through
to the current Gallardo and Murciélago models. Balboni was hired in 1967 by company
founder Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. From early on, it was evident that the young Balboni
had a special feel for cars, that most sensitive of all instincts that connects to the ‘life blood’
of an automobile and defines the soul of a test driver.
“A Lamborghini must always combine the precision of a race car with the reliability of a
good friend,” says Balboni. Since 1973, he has sat at the wheel of every prototype built by
the brand, and even most production cars have passed through his hands before being
delivered to their customers. This has turned Balboni into one of the most important
representatives of the brand, with an outstanding reputation and status among the brand’s
fans and customers worldwide.
Limited to 250 units
After over 40 years with Lamborghini, Balboni is now officially retired. Yet, Valentino
Balboni continues to travel to many countries around the world as an ambassador of the
The special exclusivity of the Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni is guaranteed – it is
limited to 250 units.
Light-footed yet extremely safe
With this latest version of the Gallardo, Lamborghini is honouring its long-standing test
driver in a very special way. The LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni was conceived in line with
his own thinking, and it meets many customers’ requests for a model with a unique
character, which offers a very special kind of active driving fun. The Balboni model is the
only current Lamborghini that delivers its power to the road via its rear wheels alone.
Rear wheel drive has a special appeal to those sports car drivers who enjoy a particular
driving style. Thanks to the eminently powerful V10 driveline, controlled oversteer is no
problem – naturally always to the extent defined by the driver – because refined road
manners and perfectly tuned assistance systems mean that the
Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni is an exceptionally safe sports car to drive.
Driving fun with unique character
In order to shape this unique character that combines driving fun and safety, the
engineers at Sant’Agata Bolognese have incorporated extensive modifications into the
LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni. It was not simply a question of moving the transmission to
the rear axle, the vehicle had to be adjusted and tuned in every element of its driving
dynamics. This includes springs, dampers, stabilisers and even the tyres. The
aerodynamics were also adjusted to take account of the change to the power flow.
The rear axle differential, with a 45 percent limited slip, was also redeveloped, as was the
calibration of the e-gear transmission. One significant point was the adjustments made to
the ESP system. While the standard program is focused on high stability, the CORSA
program permits greater drift angles, thus enabling drivers to enjoy the dynamics of the
LP 550-2 to their full extent.
Outstanding performance is guaranteed
Adjustments have also been made to the very heart of the Gallardo, the 5.2 litre tencylinder:
the perfect synthesis of hi-revving pleasure, pulling power, a constantly
exuberant temperament and a powerful symphony played in all keys. In the Valentino
Balboni, the compact and lightweight power unit generates 405 kW (550 hp). At a dry
weight of only 1,380 kilograms, this guarantees outstanding performance: the LP 550-2 is
catapulted from 0 to 100 km/h (0-62mph) in a breathtaking 3.9 seconds, while the top
speed of 320 km/h (199 mph) guarantees its place among the ultimate in super sports
Powerful elegance in its distinctive design
The Valentino Balboni is not only unique in terms of its technology: its design and
equipment reinforce its exclusivity. Its classic sporting character is emphasised by a
colour strip in white and gold running from the front panel over the roof and parts of the
engine cover all the way to the rear spoiler, with inspiration from the classic sports cars
from the ‘70s. This colour treatment underscores the powerful elegance of the Gallardo
and emphasises the unique Lamborghini design DNA. The Special Edition is available in
eight colours, from Bianco Monocerus through to Verde Ithaca, or Arancio Borealis to
Nero Noctis. The Scorpius wheels retain their dark grey finish, while the brake callipers
come in black, orange or yellow, depending on the exterior paint finish.
Classic sporting look for the interior, too
The characteristic colour combination is repeated in the interior. The basic colour of the
full leather upholstery is black. Both seats, however, feature the colour strip in white. The
centre console is completely upholstered in Polar white leather to create a powerful
accent. A badge below the left side window bears the signature of Valentino Balboni and
the production number of the car.
The exclusivity of the Valentino Balboni is augmented further by its extensive equipment.
Alongside several new leather features in the interior, there is also the transparent
engine cover, the rear view camera, the navigation system with Bluetooth and the lifting
system for the front axle that makes it easier to drive over obstacles. In addition to the
extensive standard equipment, a list of further options is available including e-gear
transmission and carbon ceramic brakes.
Suggested retail price – without taxes
Technical data – Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni
Frame & Body
Frame Structural aluminum space frame, based on aluminum
extruded parts welded to aluminum-cast joint elements
Body Aluminum with thermoplastic ?hang on? parts
Rear Spoiler Electronically controlled
Mirrors External mirror with electrical closing system
Suspension Aluminium double wishbones front and rear suspension
system, anti-roll bar, anti-dive and anti-squat
ESP 8.0 Full ESP System with ABS, ASR and ABD
Front Front Dual-Stage driver and passenger airbags, side Headthorax
Tires (front/rear) Pirelli Pzero 235/35 ZR 19 – 295/30 ZR 19
Wheels (front/rear) Aluminum alloy, 8.5? x Ø 19”- 11” x Ø 19”
Steering Power-assisted rack and pinion
Curb-to-Curb turning circle 11.50 m (37.73 ft)
Steel brakes Power vacuum, aluminum alloy calipers: 8 cylinder front
calipers and 4 cylinder rear calipers
Ventilated discs (front-rear) ø 14.37 x 1.34 in front –ø 14 x 1.26
CCB brakes Power vacuum, aluminum alloy calipers: 6 cylinder front
calipers and 4 cylinder rear calipers
Ventilated discs (front-rear) ø 15 x 1.5 in front –ø 14 x 1.26 in
Type 10 cylinders V90°, DOHC 4 valves, common-pin crankshaft
Displacement 5.2 l
Compression ratio 12.5:1
Maximum power 550 hp at 8,000 rpm
Maximum torque 540 Nm (398 lb-ft) at 6,500 rpm
Engine management system Bosch MED 9
Cooling system Engine and gearbox radiator
Cooling system oil Oil to Water cooler
Cooling system water Two water radiators
Emission control system Catalytic converters with lambda sensors
Lubrication system Dry sump
Type of transmission Rear Wheel drive
Gearbox 6 Speed + reverse, an optional robotized sequential e-gear
system with actuation by paddles on the steering column
Clutch Double plate ø 215 mm (8.46’’)
Rear Differential 45% limited slip
Top speed 320 Km/h (199 mph)
Acceleration 0-100/h (0-62 mph) 3.9 sec
Wheelbase 2560 mm (100.8 in)
Overall length 4345 mm (171,1 in)
Overall width 1900 mm (74.8 in)
Overall height 1165 mm (45.9 in)
Track (front/rear) 1632 mm- 1597mm (64.3 – 62.9 in)
Dry Weight 1380 Kg. (3042 lbs)
Weight distribution (front/rear) Front 43%/rear 57%
Engine oil 10 litres (2,6 US gal)
Fuel tank 90 litres (23,8 US gal)
Engine coolant 20 litres (5,3 US gal)
EU – version
Consumption with E-Gear
Urban 20,1 l/100 Km. (14,05 mpg UK)
Extra urban 9,2 l/100 Km (30,70 mpg UK)
Combined 13,3 l/100 Km (21,24 mpg UK)
CO2 315 g/km
Consumption with manual transmission
Urban 22 l/100 Km (12,84 mpg UK)
Extra urban 9.9 l/100 Km (28,53 mpg UK)
Combined 14,4 l/100 Km (19,62 mpg UK)
CO2 341 g/km
US – version
Consumption with E.Gear
City 14 mpg
Highway 20 mpg
Combined 16 mpg
Consumption with manual transmission
City 12 mpg
Highway 20 mpg
Combined 15 mpg
[Sources: Lamborghini and Automotive Addicts]