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If you’re a fan of Lamborghini‘s, chances are, you’ve heard the name Valentino Balboni. Between 1968 and 2008, Valentino Balboni was Lamborghini’s most famous factory test driver, who once stated that he has been behind the wheel of 85 percent of all Lamborghinis built during this period. Some people think we, as automotive journalists, have the best job in the world. No way, not even close. Valentino does. He was so good at his job, Lamborghini even named a car after him: The Gallardo LP550-2 Valentino Balboni edition. True to purist form, that car was the first Lamborghini since 1996 offered in RWD only, with a 6-speed manual gearbox standard. Yeah, that’s a driver.
Last week, the Ultimate Lamborghini Experience came to California Speedway, offering customers the chance to drive a selection of Lambo’s on the track. This time, they brought out a special guest, Balboni himself, to demonstrate the LP550-2. Hit the jump for some in-car video of the man flogging his machine around California Speedway:
Former test-driver and current brand ambassador gets special model named in his honor
Yesterday photos of a new Lamborghini model surfaced on the web and today Lamborghini has confirmed that the new model is indeed the LP550-2. But there is more to the story than that. The new model is officially named the LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, after the former Lamborghini test driver turned brand ambassador.
Balboni was hired by Lamborghini in 1967 by Ferruccio Lamborghini himself. His driving expertise have helped to fine tune cars like the Miura and since 1973 he has driven every prototype the exotic Italian automaker has created.
Balboni’s motto is that, “A Lamborghini must always combine the precision of a race car with the reliability of a good friend.”
In keeping with Balboni’s automotive enthusiasm the LP550-2 makes 550hp at 8000 rpm and 398hp at 6500 rpm. What is truly exciting, however, is that this model, as the “2″ in the name suggest, is rear-wheel drive. Even more exciting, it weighs just 3,042 lbs!
Those two factors combine to offer a 0-60mph time of 3.9 seconds and a top speed of 199 mph.
Lamborghini completely re-engineered the LP560-4 to come up with this special edition model. With the lighter weight and rear-drive layout new springs, shocks, sway bars and even tires are required. Even the aerodynamics have been changed slightly. Lamborghini also reprogrammed the ECU to work better with the rear rear-drive setup and new limited-slip-differential, allowing for significantly more sideways action in the high-performance CORSA mode.
Other highlights include a clear engine cover, a backup camera, a navigation system, Bluetooth and a hydraulic air suspension for the front axle.
The special edition LP550-2 Valentino Balboni will be offered in eight colors including Bianco Monocerus, Verde Ithaca, Arancio Borealis and Nero Noctis. The wheels will come in dark gray with the brake calipers in either black, orange or yellow.
In total, just 250 units of the LP550-2 Valentino Balboni will be built at a cost of $219,800.
GALLERY: Lamborghini LP550-2 Valentino Balboni
Full specifications after the jump: