It used to mean something to own a Ferrari or Lamborghini. They were cars for special occasions. Just to see one on the street was a talking point. Now they're everyday, usable machines that prowl certain bonus-riding, city-boy-ridden quarters of our country like rats. An F430 or Gallardo doesn't stand out any more. In the wealth centers of the world, a rusting Miata would grab more gazes. That's why Hamann Motorsport stepped in to give both cars some added plumage and flash, to reinstate the impact that's been lost to the mass market.
The Black Miracle F430 and Gallardo Victory widebody are hardly subtle. They sound more like the headline act in a local wrestling show and might offend more delicate sensibilities, but that's kind of the point. They also have the walk to back up the talk; both could crack 200 mph ... downhill, with a tailwind.
Hamann Gallardo Victory Widebody
LayoutLongitudinal mid-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine5.0-liter V10, dohc, 40-valve, Hamann stainless steel catalytic converter, 3.5-inch sport mufflers
BrakesSport brake systemEight-piston calipers, 15-inch rotors (f), Six-piston calipers, 14-inch rotors (r)
Wheels and TiresHamann Race Edition, 9.5x20 (f), 11.5x20 (r), Hankook S1 Evo235/30 (f), 325/25 (r)
ExteriorHamann lip spoiler, side skirts, roof scoop, four-piece rear wing, and diffuser
InteriorCarbon-fiber inserts, drilled pedal covers, kickplates, and carpets
PerformancePeak Power: 570 hp @ 7800 rpmPeak Torque: 410 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm0-60mph: 3.9 sec.Top speed: 199 mph
Hamann F430 Black Miracle
LayoutLongitudinal mid-engine, rear-wheel drive
Engine4.3-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve, Hamann ECU remap, stainless steel sport exhaust
Wheels and TiresHamann Race Edition, 8.5x20 (f), 12.75x20 (r)Hankook S1 Evo, 235/30 (f), 325/25 (r)
ExteriorLip spoiler, side skirts, matte finish, foil covering
InteriorHamann carpets, pedal covers, kickplates
PerformancePeak Power: 540 hp @ 8500 rpmPeak Torque: 370 lb-ft @ 5250 rpm0-60 mph: 3.9 sec.Top Speed: 199 mph
Lamborghini Victory WidebodyThe original Gallardo is perfectly understated, a clean collection of angles that collude to a near-Germanic supercar. Worried that Audi had diluted the true Italian nature of Lamborghini legends like the Countach and Diablo after taking over in 1998, Hamann worked on its own homage to these heroes who went before.
If the additional parts were color-coded, this widebody creation would look melt-in-the-mouth gorgeous. But they aren't, so we must settle for sledgehammer-in-the-face instead. The wider front wheel wells are vented, a roof scoop leads to nowhere and an angular front splitter helps add menace to the front end. Then there's that racing rear spoiler with flip-up endplates and a huge rear diffuser, which could potentially bring a marginal improvement in downforce-but it would be a struggle to perceive that.
The brake upgrade is the only serious modification, offering bigger steel rotors that are infinitely preferable to the woeful and more expensive Lamborghini ceramics. These have more feel, stop the car just as well and don't give the sensation of being about to crash into the truck in front before standing the whole machine on its nose in an embarrassing display of on-off braking with nothing in between.
The scissor doors-so much the company's signature that they're sold on the open market as Lambo-style-are the crowning glory. The baby Lambo looked wrong, sold short by doors that merely open sideways with a bog-standard grab handle. We expect more from Sant'Agata, and thanks to Laupheim, Germany, we have it. Some might argue that Hamann has gone too far inside. With the orange carbon-fiber inserts, sunglasses are now essential safety equipment, but at least it isn't boring any more.
While it has 50hp and 36 lb-ft more, thanks to stainless steel cats and 3-inch-wide sport mufflers, it's barely a tenth faster to 60 mph-breaching that mark in 3.9 seconds. Top speed rises to 199 mph, not bad considering the extra drag from the add-on parts. And God it sounds good. The V10 is the thug's choice compared to the Ferrari's cultured V8, but makes up for its lack of subtlety with a brute force that suits the new look.
The widebody kit allowed Hamann to fit fatter tires, but swapping from Pirellis to Hankooks is not the obvious step when going for performance. The wider 20-inch Race Edition wheels (7,800 a set) need more muscle to turn in and they fidget a little more on a broken back road at triple the prescribed limit.
To talk of high-speed handling gains, though, would be kidding ourselves. Just like the outside, the minor tweaks to the handling are all about the attitude: it feels faster and that's what counts. When the Italians became a little too Teutonic, more Germans stepped in to put the flair back into the package and, when we checked back, they sold the car to the Middle East. Life is weird sometimes.
Ferrari F430 Black MiracleNo one in their right mind could accuse a matte black Ferrari with red racing stripes of lacking impact, in normal circumstances. But the Ferrari looks bulbous here, overweight even, next to the angular and vicious Gallardo, losing the battle for road presence by a country mile.
Gripes like this soon disappear when the needle is bounding toward redline and the sonorous note of that high-strung V8 reverberates off a tunnel wall. Again, Hamann hasn't messed with the internals; these engines aren't cheap and delving inside means taking over the warranty.
Hamann makes a valid point, too, in that horsepower can be jacked through the roof, but to make it work would require an electronics department bigger than the one at Maranello. So the tuning shop has settled for a sport exhaust and a minor remap to give the supremely advanced E-diff 540 hp to think about.
With a new set of springs dropping the car right onto its Race Edition wheels, it feels the part too. The feedback gives the impression of going faster than the speedo says. There's still a sense of occasion beneath speeds that will land the driver in jail, though. That symphony hall of an exhaust gives every rev a touch of venom so badly needed in the base car.
It dances, darts, and fights through bends in a way that previous generations of Ferraris did. By puncturing that air of invincibility, Hamann has brought the fun back to Ferrari; for that we should be truly thankful.
The lip spoiler, side skirts, rear diffuser, and gullwing doors look slightly out of place in this company. Of course, matte black finishes have taken off in a big way and threaten to cross the tuning/manufacturer divide.
This one can even be taken off when it comes time to sell the car. The foil isn't glued down in some haphazard way, it peels away like a wrapper from a candy bar. So if matte goes out of fashion faster than the leisure suit, it's just a good rub away from showroom condition.
ConclusionThis was one of those rare chances to put the best sellers from Sant'Agata and Maranello, albeit in modified form, into perspective. It was a telling experience.
The raging bull looks much tougher, is screwed together in a way Modena can only dream of and feels like it will be there in 10 years, while the tired switchgear in this mildly worn Ferrari feels ready to fall off. It walks all over the prancing horse, stopping only to grind its snout into the dirt-until the engines are fired up.
Then there's barely a cigarette paper between them. Both sound orgasmic, both will rock your world and both will grip the road long beyond the point where you should be picking your broken bones out of a tree. From a pure driving perspective, it comes down to the subjective rear- versus all-wheel-drive debate. But even that doesn't really matter until the electronics are fully switched off, which rarely happens.
At that point, the Ferrari will wag its tail while the Lamborghini will let go to an extent, then the front wheels start to bite and the 30/70 front/rear power split evens out. In such conditions, the Gallardo is safer and inspires a touch more confidence, giving it the nod.
And the LP560-4 is around now, which means Hamann could easily create a 600hp, 200mph version. Even though it's not here yet, we'll have that one, please. Color-coded, of course.