#9 – Lamborghini Gallardo of indeterminate vintage

The good news: I drove a Lamborghini! The forever-coveted, would’ve-had-a-poster-on-my-bedroom-wall-if-it-wasn’t-already-covered-in-pictures-of-Garfield, ridiculous-looking Lambo. (I was a strange kid, ok?)

The bad news: I learned from the Ferrari post that I suck at writing about supercars, and unfortunately for you this post probably won’t be any better. It’s like that first time you meet your favorite actor or band, and you tell yourself repeatedly that they are just regular people but when you finally meet them all you can do is stare and say words that ultimately do nothing except make you sound like a huge dork..

So I’m going to try to talk about the Lambo like it’s just…a car. But it’s not! It’s a freakin’ Lamborghini!

This isn’t off to a good start.

The backstory: I found another one of those things where you pay people money and they let you drive an expensive car around. Unlike the Las Vegas trip though, this one involved driving a Gallardo at high speeds around the road course at my local racetrack. Oh yeah.

Before taking off in the Lambo we got a (very fast) group ride around the course in a Mercedes SUV. To learn the lines, or something. It was hilarious. (Mini review of some random Mercedes: It was big, had leather seats, could easily fit 5 adults, and was faster than it should have been.)

My parents heading off for their run in the Mercedes.

Now that we knew where we were going, it was time to wait in line. I kind of liked the blue Lamborghini, but the yellow was oh-so-flashy. Not like it mattered, they were both the same car and they were assigned based on line position. I ended up with the yellow one. Not disappointed

So, the car. They didn’t tell us much, I guess they figured the point was to drive the cars, not write novels about them. I should really speak up next time, show up with a voice recorder and a list of questions. As far as I can figure it was a Gallardo LP560-4 so a V10 with AWD and something like 550hp? There was a brief driver’s meeting ahead of time at which point they tried to say it had 700hp, but that’s not Gallardo territory, and I don’t understand why they felt the need to inflate numbers. Most people are driving 150hp Hondas, even 550hp is an amazing leap.

Also I’m completely guessing on the AWD, but I imagine giving high horsepower rear wheel drive cars to civilians and setting them up on a track would be a recipe for disaster, and there were no disasters that day. Except for the Ferrari repeatedly breaking. But that’s another story.

The poor Ferrari having a bad day.

Finally, my yellow chariot was ready.
Getting in the car was an ordeal. Supervision was required to make sure the seat was adjusted and my seatbelt was fastened. Safety First!

There were co-drivers in every car, and I was initially worried that they were there to be track police and swat at feet with batons if the speed or engine revs got too high. I was quickly proven wrong as I found out that my co-driver was actually a SCCA/NASA driving instructor who is used to helping people drive fast! Yes! None of this “keep it under 6000 revs” nonsense. No, it was “put the pedal down now.” That…was pretty awesome.

Anyway, back to the car. The inside. It was so dark! Black leather, black alcantara dash. Soft, fuzzy, but oh so dark. And it doesn’t have that same luxury feel as the 458 had, it was very straightforward and simple with no bells and whistles. I can completely get behind a car that is purpose built to go fast and maintain control, but after driving the Ferrari it just seemed outdated.

Since I have no pictures of the interior of the Gallardo, here are some Ferrari pictures to show you what it was not. It was much easier to spend time with the Ferrari since it was recuperating from whatever malady prevented it from being on the track that day.

Nothing fancy here, but it’s usable. Also, see how you can make out the floor? Yeah, not so much in the Lambo. That was more like looking at the batcave during a power outage.

I just like this steering wheel. And that knob on the right looks like it would make such a satisfying click when you turn it, but they never let you touch that if it’s not your car.

The funny thing was though, that once I was out on the track I didn’t give a damn. It could’ve been made entirely of scaffolding and I wouldn’t have noticed.

Confession time, I write about cars but I really don’t know much about them, or how to drive them properly. I pick up bits of knowledge here and there and it really helps with standard road cars, but when I’m in a car like this I just want to pretend that I’m on Top Gear and can say informed things about steering feel, and understeer, and throttle response. But no. What I can say is that when I hit the gas the car went like mad, and I could do that whole wait until the last second before a corner and brake hard, and I was so confident in the steering even at high speeds on a banked curve.

I think I may have said the same things about the 458 last year, and if I didn’t I should have, but it was all so much more pronounced at the high speeds that I couldn’t reach on Vegas highways.

I haven’t mastered the art of motion pictures with that fancy wheel blur, you’ll just have to take my word that the car was moving fast.

Also to further cement that I am not Top Gear material, more than once I forgot about the paddle shifters because I was so enamored with the car. Luckily the engine let me know of my error. Loudly.

And I can’t really say a whole lot more about that, unfortunately. I had this great instructor in the car with me and while I know the theory of high-speed driving it was so great to have someone remind me of lines and when to brake and just lots of other little things. So I spent my time listening (and squeeing and saying how awesome the car was) and not really looking at or analyzing the car itself.

All that driving is hard on the fuel tank.

So with all this being said, if I won the lottery tomorrow it would be a extremely difficult to pick between this and the Ferrari. They often get compared, but I think they are cars made for 2 different purposes. It would be hilarious to walk out to the driveway and have a Lamborghini staring back at you, but the creature comforts of the 458 are a huge selling point. Also, have you seen those headlights?

In conclusion then, I would win the lottery and then lease each one for a year. It’s the only sensible thing to do.

#4 – 2011(?) 458 Italia

As explained by my last post, I was recently in Las Vegas and had a chance to drive a fun rental car. But that wasn’t enough for me. I decided I needed to pay a slightly exorbitant amount of money to the folks at World Class Driving so that they would let me drive a supercar (or three). (Note: this post is in no way sponsored or endorsed by World Class Driving)


We arranged our drive for first thing on a Monday morning, and we drove out on Sunday evening to find the location of this so-called “Dream Garage.” We found the garage relatively easily, so then we stopped to watch some Mazdas, BMWs and an Evo X drive around cones in the parking lot of a karting track.

That’s not really relevant to the story, but autocross is cool.

We arrived at the Dream Garage on Monday morning, where we were greeted by 6 absolutely gorgeous supercars sitting in the parking lot, and some people milling around.

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We were eventually ushered inside to fill out some paperwork and agree to the $10,000(!) deductible if we were to wreck a car and our personal insurance didn’t cover it. They took a copy of our credit cards so that they could get money off of us in the event that something happened. They apparently just assumed that everyone had at least a $10,000 limit on their cards.

Next we got to sit on some comfy couches and learn a bit about the cars and get the lecture of how it’s important to respect the cars because they will bite if provoked. (Especially the Jaguar, I hear they have pointy teeth. Ha ha.)

Finally we headed back outside to the cars. The format of the event is that there are 3 cars per group, and everyone rotates so that they get to drive every car in their group for awhile. Group 1 had a Lamborghini Gallardo, a Jaguar XKR-S, and a McLaren SLR. Group 2 had a Ferrari 458 Italia, another Jaguar XKR-S, and a Bentley continental GT (All automatic or DSG). We were in Group 2, and somehow, remarkably no one was crowding around the 458 so I happily jumped in the driver’s seat.

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It was a blessing in disguise that we were in the Ferrari first. Since we were the first group of the day, we were faced with the task of driving the cars to the actual event location out in the desert, which meant driving a collection of supercars on the delightful highways of Vegas (and the associated fun acceleration that comes with merging onto highways with 562 horsepower at your feet). But before the highway, it meant some driving on city streets, where I could get used to the behavior of a DSG at low speeds. Have you ever seen the video where someone repeatedly stalls an Aston Martin One-77 and wondered how on earth someone stalls a (million dollar) glorified-automatic car? Yeah, it’s not really an automatic. The only way to describe it is that it feels very much like a manual, and when the revs get too low it behaves exactly like a manual. The Ferrari didn’t stall, but I could see how it might. So at low speeds the car was a little jerky, though I’m sure this would easily be overcome with some practice and learning how to feather the gas pedal the way you would a clutch.

And then came the highway driving. Whoa. I’ve been writing this review in my head for months now, because really I have no idea how to do this car justice. They say that when you are really in tune with something (driving, flying a kite, etc.) it feels like the thing (car, in this case) is just an extension of your person, and the Ferrari definitely makes getting into that zone easy. Every input has a direct- correlation to what the car does. There is no unnecessary play in the steering, and the suspension isn’t rock solid, but you can get a good feel for the road surface below you. The gas and brake are expectedly the same way, and when you want it to go or stop it will do just that with no questions asked.

I just remembered this is a car review blog, and maybe I should talk just a little more about the car rather than go on at length about how much I love it. So then, the seats? They were cool. I love sport seats and bolsters that hug you (I think I’ve said this in a previous review). The interior was good, definitely not a bad place to be and everything was well arranged and made of quality materials, no rattles here!

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Unfortunately in such a short drive you don’t really get to play with climate control and other settings, but the important gauges were all easy to read.

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The tachometer is front and center and yellow, along with a display showing you what gear you’re in, and it gives you tips saying when it thinks you should shift into another of those 7 available gears. Downshift is automatic if needed to prevent stalling, or you can do it yourself earlier to make the engine make fun noises. The speedometer is off to the right and is a digital display, and sometimes this display is instead a navigation screen in which case you just get a digital speed reading (no dial, just a number) on the left screen. I don’t remember looking at the speedometer much when driving it (and I think Ferrari expected this when designing the car) but this could be a slight problem if this is a car you drive often and you live in a town full of police.

There are also so many other fun things to say about this car, but I don’t want this review to go on all day, and others have already covered them more in depth than I ever could. Follow that link if you want more specs and to hear about all the interesting tech in this car. My personal favorite is the front wings that are optimized to funnel air into the radiators (no intercoolers here), but at high speeds actually shift to reduce drag. How cool is that??

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However there were some quirks with the car. Namely that putting on the parking break apparently required supervision. (I didn’t see a problem so sorry for the lack of discussion on this, but I’m guessing some other people who have done this event had problems understanding how it works, or maybe it did have real issues and the car was just behaving well that day.)

Also, both the paddle shifters and the turn signals are on the steering wheel. It was slightly embarrassing in the beginning just how often I changed gears when trying to change lanes, and signaled when trying to change gears.

The last problem is that the steering wheel is very F1 inspired with lots of buttons and gadgets, all guaranteed to make the car go zoom, but we were instructed not to touch them.

Ok, that’s not really a car problem, but I needed at least 3 complaints about this car, lest it seem like Ferrari is paying me to say that their car is a little bit of heaven. (Anyone from Ferrari reading this? I would gladly take bribes in exchange for some more seat time, because I reach so many millionaire readers who are ready to run out and buy one of these cars 😉 )

To sum it up, I wanted one of these since I first heard about them, and now that goes double. But I would obviously want to drive some of the competition first, since Lamborghinis still have a special place in my heart. (I didn’t drive any other cars on this trip, my boyfriend drove the other two and hopefully I can convince him to write a guest post one of these days.)

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