Sometimes you don't need lots of flashy add-ons, if you cooked Kobi Beef then smothered it in grandma's special BBQ sauce a chef somewhere would hunt you down and kill you. And it's the same with cars...
Sometimes you don't need lots of flashy add-ons, if you cooked Kobi Beef then smothered it in grandma's special BBQ sauce a chef somewhere would hunt you down and kill you. And it's the same with cars, sometimes you just need to add a little salt and pepper, just the mildest seasoning, to make the perfect dish. And that's how Edo Karabegovic felt about his customer's Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder.
You'd think the owner of a solar panel company would drive a Prius powered by his own sense of smugness. But you'd be wrong, the boss of Solar Direct has one of the most awesome selection of supercars on the planet, including this one.
I owe this man a great debt, and as much free publicity as the editor's conscience will allow, as he has so far let me loose in his modified Maserati MC12 that is his daily driver, his Gallardo and there are plenty more sumptuous treats on the way. Watch this space, it will be worth it for both of us.
As was this car, forgetting the orange and black livery that form his corporate branding and so can be forgiven. It did feel like driving a giant wasp and this kind of scheme is generally found on an animal so lethal even Steve Irwin would have had second thoughts, before grabbing it anyway, but colours aside the Gallardo Spyder is one of the sexiest cars on this planet.
The coupe was already beautiful, but by whipping off this stunner's top Lamborghini has distilled the essence of automotive beauty. Angular it may be, but it wipes the floor in terms of pure road presence with the more organic F430 Spider that forms its most natural competition.
And in my humble opinion the Gallardo is an even better car than the more expensive Murcielago. Critics may deride the 'entry level' Gallardo, calling it an Audi with the wrong badge, but these are simpletons that should be ignored. Edo Karabegovic, the man that built the fastest Porshe round the Nordschleife out of an old GT2 and now tunes the very best supercars in the world, agrees.
This car's shorter wheelbase, lighter weight and increased degree of chuckability make it the near-perfect sportscar. Eventually Physics catches up with the Murcielago and the weight pulls it into a spin, but the Gallardo can head through the apex at preposterous angles, trailing smoke as it goes.
You can feel the calming influence of Audi on the reckless wild-child that was Lamborghini, too. Gone are the scissor doors that have long been a company trademark on more expensive models and there are no flamboyant wings either. Instead the Gallardo looks like a pared down, pent up racer - with those squat and square haunches exuding power. It's a more conservative approach to the traditional wedge-shaped firebreathers, but it works.
It's still aggressive, but effortlessly so. Whereas older models generally came with the musk of overpowering aftershave and the glint of medallion, this car strikes the right balance between bravado and style.
And Edo isn't the type to mess with the looks unnecessarily, the black and orange interior was even ordered from Lamborghini and he fought back a smirk when talking about the styling touches.
In his own inimitable words he "doesn't make cars for the disco," and while he could have found an aero package to subtly improve upon the Gallardo's basic set-up, he too loves the basic shape so much he didn't want to mess up the lines of a near perfect sportscar.
He was pretty limited under the skin, too, as Lamborghini put in a huge amount of work to make the Spyder handle, accelerate and do more or less everything else better than the fixed-head version anyway.
The suspension was been revised completely, the six-speed gear ratios have been shortened for improved acceleration and Lamborghini boost the power of its five-litre V10 up to an epic 520bhp. And all of that power is available all of the time thanks to the Gallardo's stunning four-wheel drive system.
Edo could have got serious horsepower from the engine, but instead chose to get the most rewards for minimal input. But even that wasn't as simple as he'd hoped. He had already produced a beautifully ornate carbon-fibre airbox for the coupe, but the re-routed exhaust that accommodates the roof mechanism that closes the top in 17 seconds meant he had to start from scratch with the soft-top.
Of course the airbox wasn't enough and a engine map that liberates 400 more revs before the limiter kicks in and a new sports exhaust adds just a few more horses to the stampede and a monster soundtrack. The Gallardo's V10 was a number one hit on its own, but with Edo's help it is almost as good as the V12 Murcielago, almostÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦
And with the e-gear fitted that blips the throttle on the downchange, you'll find yourself blasting down the 'box for fun - and then finding tunnels to bounce the noise back. With the engine conversion alone weighing in at ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬21,000 it's not the cheapest upgrade on the market, but everything is perfectly engineered and more than 20bhp worth of bragging rights will more than justify the investment for plenty of willing punters.
Now this kind of power makes little impact on the 4.3s 0-60mph time, or even the top end speed of 193mph. Instead it simply sharpens the already Sabatier-style edges to a razor-finish.
Incidentally Edo loves the gearboc technology far more than I do, as I think the manual 'box is twice as involving and actually easier round town as such things like holding the car on the bite point at traffic lights are impossible here.
But it sounds awesome on the downchange, is much faster on track and getting better all the time. Ferrari's system feels superior, but more than 50 per cent of Lamborghini owners opt for the semi-automatic with the Audi stamp of reliability.
Aside from the engine conversion Edo was pretty limited with this car. He put a sports suspension system on the car but was convinced to throw it in the bin on his first foray on to the public road when grinding and grating noises from the corners destroyed the experience and offered no real performance advantage.
Lighter wheels, therefore, with those painted rims that almost make the brake discs look alight with exertion, were his only other contribution to the car. And that is a massive compliment to the base Gallardo Spyder. Ferraris, Murcielagos and other exotica lay wrended limb from limb in his showroom, but he just didn't think it was worth garnishing the Gallardo any further than this.
He knows his stuff, and so do Lamborghini. This was one of the best sportscars on the planet before he started, and this man knows when all that's required is a little seasoning to create the perfect dish.