Ah yes, Lamborghini, that upstart Italian marque that was perpetually in crisis during its time as an independent maker of exotic cars. It changed hands multiple times, at one point serving as a corporate trophy of Chrysler, until it was acquired by current owner Audi in 1998.
Since then the company has rationalized its lineup and produced a steady stream of new models to take on the likes of Ferrari and Porsche. First it replaced the Diablo with the Murcielago in 2001.
Then after some 20 years of rumors, conjecture and false starts regarding a “Baby Lambo”, including the stillborn Project L140 and Cala concept car of 1995, the Gallardo finally showed up at the 2003 Geneva auto show. It was late to the party but stayed up all night.
The mid-engine, all wheel drive, two seat coupe was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro’s Italdesign in conjunction with Lamborghini. Featuring steel door panels and a mostly aluminum skin over an extruded aluminum spaceframe, it was more practical (and 15% stiffer in torsion) than the Murcielago. It also served as the basis for the acclaimed Audi R8 sports car.
Power was initially provided by an aluminum 5.0 liter 90 degree V10. A dry sump oil system, drive-by-wire throttle, and variable valve timing all conspired to produce 492 hp at an impressive 8,200 rpm redline. Peak torque was 376 lb-ft.
That all went out the window in 2009 when the engine was punched out to 5.2 liters and direct injection was added via some magic bits from Bosch. Power increased to 552 hp.
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