They move incredibly fast and their costs are even higher than their sticker prices. They are closer to collector’s items or symbols of the pinnacle of wealth than they are modes of transportation.
These cars are in a class by themselves; the ultimate in speed and style. They are the dream cars or exotic cars that 99 percent of us will never drive, touch or sometimes ever even see.
Face it, the pages of Marketplace don’t often show off these beauties, because they are so far out of the “Average Joe’s” price range. Unless you happen to be a rapper, professional athlete or if your last name is Trump, then chances are the closest you will ever get to one of these cars is by watching Speedvision or constructing a 1:64 scale model for a shelf somewhere.
Companies like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Lotus and a select few others, painstakingly hand craft cars for their wealthy customers. Lamborghini, for example, makes fewer than 300 cars a year. That would bankrupt General Motors or Volkswagen. Larger companies that make cars for the rest of us to drive count on lower prices, assembly line robots and massive sales to account for their success.
But these ultra-speedsters can get away with such a low output of product because their prices are so exorbitant. And there is little competition for parts (meaning you cannot walk down to the local auto parts store and pick up a part for your Ferrari Testarosa — they have to be special ordered from the factory in Italy).
Ouch. That has to hurt the pocketbook, but for buyers of these kinds of cars, they don’t care about that sort of thing. To be honest, most of them don’t care how much gas costs — just as long as they can get it. That’s because the fuel economy on their little gems is usually horrible. But you give something up to be sure no one in town can beat you off the line. Ever.
So when Lamborghini announced they were debuting a new model, the eyes of the automotive world turned to Italy.
It would be the first time the automaker would take on two styles of vehicle at the same time (since their debacle marriage with BMW that produced small sporting cars).
The Diablo, Lamborghini’s sole model since the 1970s and ‘80s era Countach, will be produced along side the Gallardo. The Countach LP500, which also debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, featured high speed dynamics, high cornering limits, a handmade aluminum body and a dramatic “wedge” body profile. It made headlines and set the standard for automobile design for years to come. But just the fact Lamborghini is producing a second automobile is stunning. That means the little car make’s growing, and setting its sights on bigger things and expanding markets.
Diablo production reached its peak in 1991. The popular model helped Lamborghini climb out of the debt it was in after the oil crisis of the 1970s and the BMW deal gone bad. For the first time in many years, Lamborghini showed a profit. The Diablo, the fastest production car in the world, reaches a top speed of 202 mph.
The new Lamborghini takes its name from a famous fighting bull breed, selected since the 18th century by bull breeder Francisco Gallardo.
Fierce and robust, the Gallardo bulls were renowned for their courage and also for their power and aggressiveness.
The underlying frame of the Gallardo is aluminum with thermoplastic “hang on” parts, which will make for a very sculpted and aerodynamic look.
The Gallardo’s suspension is double wishbones, front and rear. The car is equipped with an antiroll bar, antidive and antisquat “self adjusting” dampners. The rear spoiler is electronically controlled. Braking is handled by all — wheel ventilated discs, power vacuum, and aluminum alloy calipers. There are eight cylinders per front caliper and four cylinders per rear caliper.
Steering is handled by a power-assisted rack and pinion system. Even the mirrors are fancy on this car. The external mirrors feature an electrical closing and heating system; the internal mirror comes equipped with an antiblinding system. Gallardo is powered by a dual overhead cam V-10 made from a light-alloy block.
The engine is mid-mounted (longitudinal), possibly to better stabilize the car (without having too much weight or power at one end). Gallardo is on permanent four-wheel drive, with what Lamborghini calls a “viscous traction system.”
The amazing option is a robotized sequential E-gear system with actuation by paddles on the steering column. Wow.
Gallardo’s top speed is said to be around 205 mph. You can get yourself one for a mere $165,000. But again, if you had that kind of money to throw around, you wouldn’t worry too much about the price. You would just be worried about how your silk suit looks next to the thermoplastic molding.
Lamborghini press releases were used in this article.
This article was originally published in The Flagship military newspaper.