Spent two weeks in Italy this past month (Florence, Milan, Cinqueterra, Genoa, etc). Between cappuccinos and strolls along piazzas I found time to check out a few museums - including my mecca, the pinnacle of everything mechanical, the intersection of art+machine, the religious authority on vehicular expression, sexual bravado on wheels - Lamborghini.
I’ve enjoyed meeting and talking with Valentino Balboni (THE man) several times over the last few years - learning more about the ‘old’ Lamborghini and how it all began (the “ferrari is junk” stories were true) - so it was interesting to see how Audi has influenced the ‘new’ Lamborghini for the past 15 years. Every company car is an Audi and half of the staff on the grounds are German. My only complaint of the museum is that they went right from Ferruccio and his vision to Audi’s takeover - it would have been nicer had they walked through the financial problems, the first investor go-around, the Michael Jordan connection, the Chrysler buyout, the second investor go-around, the Middle East Lamborghini/Vector buyout and so forth…that way visitors could really appreciate how well buttoned up the company is at this point.
I’ve watched a guy try his best to keep his 1980 Countach running, try to keep the ‘artisanship’ bodywork from falling apart and try to save enough money for the every-12K-mile-engine rebuilds to where you can now jump in a Gallardo and drive it daily, just changing the fluids & filters every 5-10K miles (yourself if you so choose) - and that’s it. They’re building Italian supercars with German quality and Japanese reliability.
PS - my Lamborghini coffee mug is my favorite and I did buy a hat, just so I can act like I have one as I meander around car shows
Thanks for putting up those photos. Neat place. I wonder if the Audi ownership of Ducati is having a similarly beneficial effect on that company.
You definitely need to figure out how to acquire one of these ‘pinnacles of everything mechanical’!
I liked the scene in Zero Dark Thirty when they walk into the Dubai Lamborghini dealer, and the CIA guy exclaims “is this a BALBONI!?! Well f*** me running.” One of the last cars to be made with a manual shift, as far as I understand.
We in Seattle miss the presence of Marshawn Lynch and his white Aventador.
It was a real treat being there - I’d remembered watching 60 minutes with Maury Safer in the 1990s and I stood at the same spot where Valentino drove out to greet Maury and did a donut for him in a Countach.
When I first met Valentino a few years ago in Florida (pic below) he was such a joy to talk with - the nicest guy in the world (I’ve been lucky enough to talk with him twice since) and I asked him about the car they named after him - he said that he insisted it be rear wheel drive (all the other Gallardos were AWD and he talked about how you can’t talk with a car that’s AWD, it should be RWD (I agree)) and insisted that it have a manual transmission (again he said they were sucking the souls out of cars by letting them shift themselves) and he said that gave the product guys a big headache so you could spend 10K more and they’d put in eGear…he thought that was sad), but he got his way, so yes, the last Lambo offered with a stick was his namesake. While I would love an old Countach I think I’ve got a manual tranny Balboni Gallardo on my top pedestal of automotive “want”.