One of the drawbacks of exotic cars is their temperamental nature. We rationalize this as part of the ownership experience-ungodly performance and drop-dead looks demand high-level maintenance. Though handsome, many exotics are difficult daily drivers.
The Lamborghini Gallardo isn't like that.
Oh, it's got the sexy part down pat, a smoldering sensuous sexy that makes men swoon and women ovulate. And fast? How's zero-to-60 mph in 3.2 seconds and a top speed of 200 mph?
The best part of the Gallardo is you can drive it every day-just like Porsche's 911 Turbo. It's a totally viable experience.
obsessionBlack SundayPurists may argue it's not a true Italian, that there's too much Audi in its bloodline. Bah. It's a proven fact that animals become stronger if they mix their genetic material. Even Darwin would agree that the Gallardo's pedigree has produced a fine creature.
A trio of devoted motorheads conspired to infuse the Gallardo with even more muscle. Enter Eric Kim, Dan Aspesi and Jason Heffner. Owner Kim is a long-time ec supporter and has collected a stunning stable of cars. Porsche, Ferrari, Lambo, Mercedes-Benz... Kim has them all. While managing his thriving apparel business (Monarch), Kim hooked up with his good friend Aspesi at The Speed Gallery (SG). The Speed Gallery is like Willie Wonka's factory, just substitute cars for chocolate. SG clients include folks in the movie industry, pro athletes and all manner of movers and shakers.
For the last 10 years, Kim and Aspesi have been racing shifter karts and various race cars in SG's stable. They've also played with more than a few street cars, typically buying the best and building upon the goodness already there. First stages of the Gallardo included big-bore throttle bodies, 100-cell catalysts and high-performance exhaust systems. The pair continued tweaking the V10, fighting hard for every naturally aspirated hp.
"We just weren't getting the numbers we wanted," recalls Kim. "All this work netted something like 50 hp. Aspesi suggested Heffner's twin turbo system. It was the only way to see substantial power gains."
Based in Sarasota, Florida, Jason Heffner has made a name for himself developing high-horsepower programs for a handful of high-end vehicles. This isn't a one-size-fits-all turbo kit but rather an exhaustive revision of the car's mechanicals matched to specially fabricated speed components. In this instance, Kim shipped a new Gallardo crate motor to Heffner to reduce the downtime (two to three weeks).
Heffner went through the entire engine before installing two Garrett GT-35R turbos. Compression was lowered to 9:1, via proprietary forged pistons and steel cylinder liners. The main rotating parts are polished, balanced and ultimately blueprinted before reassembly. Boost pressure runs at 8.5 psi, but that will be increasedafter Carillo rods go in.
Heffner fabricates all requisite plumbing pieces in-house: the intake system, mid- and downpipes, exhaust, oil feed lines and intercooler piping. A pair of Tial 38mm wastegates regulate pressure while a large Spearco water-to-air intercooler maintains charge temperatures. The factory ECU is augmented with an AEM auxiliary box and the fuel injector count is raised by 10, hence the car's prodigious appetite for petrol. A heavy duty clutch and pressure plate ensure the extra power is delivered accordingly.
The crew at SG made a special effort to increase cooling capabilities, installing a GTR-style aerodynamic kit with sizable air intakes and venting. The transparent engine cover was replaced with a perforated mesh unit and additional airflow is augmented with custom carbon fiber engine shrouding.
Heffner claims 800 hp. That's a big number, one that gets thrown around more than a Paris Hilton video.
Traqmate in hand, we figured we'd try a few acceleration runs before the temperature hit its high of 114. Though our test track's main straight includes a slight incline, this turbo Gallardo pulled a quick 11.2 seconds in the quarter-mile. But what's impressive was its 129-mph trap speed. It was obvious this car has some serious balls, especially at the top end.As the thermometer continued northward, we decided against repeating speed runs.
Although this car is brutally fast in a straight line, it's more at home on a road course. It's also more fun. The Gallardo seems to 'do' speed better than most cars. The faster you go the better it gets. The near-linear power curve makes this Lamborghini a highly capable track car with great manners. Power comes on hard but with measured progression-no mid-corner boost bombs. It doesn't have quite the dexterity of a Porsche 911 turbo, but it's close.
SG augmented the suspension with Moton coilovers with remote reservoirs, adjustable units capable of full race settings or softer street use. Kim also had the interior treated with a fabulous carbon fiber steering wheel and a high-end stereo system (yeah, like we listened to it).
The original plan included converting the Gallardo's all-wheel drive to rear-wheel drive, something the factory itself is rumored to be doing. Although it sounds good in theory, the Gallardo was designed to be motivated through all four wheels, it was balanced that way. Initial testing with rear-wheel drive resulted in a huge smoke show-fun to watch, but hardly optimal. Besides, this car has enough power to light up all four corners.
According to the temperature gauge, heat increased to 114 and the tarmac a blazing 145. It was the kind of heat that withers all manner of things, both organic and mechanical. Therefore we were surprised when this force-fed Gallardo continued to run lap after burning lap. Credit must be given to both Heffner and SG-they built one hell of a car.
We stayed until late in the day, so late that everyone else left. Aspesi called an hour later and told us that Kim said: "Keep the Lambo for a few days, live in it, get to know it."
An open stretch of desert road told us everything we needed to know. We managed an indicated 205 mph and I'm certain there was some left even then.
We pulled over in the dark desert night and marveled at the car for a spell, enjoying the little 'ticks' it made as it cooled down. Upon closer inspection, we noticed a large chunk of Continental tread was missing. I have to give props to the ContiSportContact 3-that's one tough tire.
I've never gone that fast in a car before, but, to tell the truth, there wasn't that much drama (even with three-and-a-bit tires). The Gallardo simply hunkered down and did what was asked. Then again, that's what it was designed to do.
2006 Lamborghini Gallardo Twin Turbo
Longitudinal mid engine, all-wheel drive
5.0-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve, turbocharged and intercooled
Moton adjustable coilovers, remote reservoir
*Wheels and Tires
iForged Triumph 9x19 (f), 11x19 (r)Continental ContiSportContact 3 235/35 (f)305/25 (r)
Peak Power: 800 hp (est)0-60 mph: 3.2 sec.Top speed: 205 mph(as read on the speedometer)