Volkswagen's Baby Lambo

During the 1970s Lamborghini went through a very rough patch. There were several changes of ownership; but by 1998, like so many other marques before and since, it fell into the hands of a bigger company, this time Volkswagen, where it was placed under that company's Audi division. This was possibly the best thing that could have happened to the company since it had access to the financial strength, excellent engineering standards and modern marketing of it's parent company.

The first Lamborghini to be produced under Volkswagen ownership was the Murcialago, which was the last car to be manufactured using the venerable Lamborghini V12 quad cam engine. This was quite heavily modified however and it was perfectly capable of propelling the car up to 200 mph with acceleration from nought to 60 in 3.5 seconds. More than 4000 of these were built between its launch in 2001 and the end of production in 2009. A much bigger seller however was the Gallardo, which was named (as was traditional with Lamborghinis) after a famous breed of fighting bulls, and it became the biggest seller for Lamborghini to date, with more than 14,000 produced over the following 10 years.

Some people called it the 'Baby Lambo' but it was still hardly an infant! Okay it was 4 inches shorter than it's big brother, and sported a V10 5 litre engine rather than the Murcialago's 6.2 to 6.5 liter V12s but it was still no slouch. Power output was 493 brake horsepower giving a maximum speed of 192 mph with acceleration of nought to 60 in 4.1 seconds; fast enough for just about anyone but a Formula 1 racing driver!

it started life as a mid-engined, all wheel drive sports car with a rear – mid situated engine. Rear wheel drive came later. There was a choice between a six speed manual gearbox and a six speed clutchless manual system, known as e-gear. The transmission system could automatically switch the power output between the front and rear wheels, depending upon loading, and how much grip they had.

Numerous upgrades and editions followed through the years and two of them were even used as police cars for emergency motorway use! Sadly both of these were destroyed whilst on duty but two more were used temporarily for special publicity events by the Metropolitan police. There would not be many getaway cars that would have a chance of out running them.

Thanks partly to improved transmission standards the Gallardo was much easier to drive than any earlier Lamborghini but this does not take away the fact that it was a true supercar in every respect.

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