The 355 was a hard car to let go of; my history with the car, the amazing respray paint job (which directly resulted in my never wanting to drive it hence putting only 1,000 miles in the last 3 years of ownership!), the looks and that sound! But the $7k engine out services every three years were becoming a bit much and it was definitely feeling its age in terms of refinement and performance.
So what next?
I definitely wanted to continue the “exotic and Italian” theme and while the obvious choice was a Ferrari 360 I’ve never warmed to its rounded looks or its incremental improvement in performance over my 355, and since this car was to essentially replace both the 355 and my Corvette C6 Z06 I definitely needed something a little faster. The Ferrari F430 is still priced a little on the high side and isn’t exactly what I would call a looker, plus this being LA they are a dime a dozen. I wanted something a little rarer and more unique. And I wanted to stay with a true manual gearbox so flappy paddles need not apply.
I decided to go to the “Dark Side” and came across a one of a kind Lamborghini Gallardo coupe. I’ve always liked the wedge shape of the Gallardo and felt that with Audi’s intervention, it should be well engineered and not have any of the typical Italian foibles the “other car” from Italy commonly suffers. And with 500+ horsepower, it should keep my right foot relatively happy although I wondered if it could fill the performance gap left by the incredible Z06.
The Gallardo I purchased had already undergone quite a transformation with the best that German tuners Cargraphic offers. This included a very elaborate and unique GT Strada centre exit exhaust system -designed, tested and tuned in collaboration with Team Reiter Engineering of GT3 fame- sport cats, full coilover suspension, custom Cargraphic Turbo R three piece, spun forged wheels (directionally specific and designed to evacuate air from inside the wheels for optimal aerodynamics and high-speed stability) with colour matched outer lip and larger brakes with floating calipers.
The car was covered in this article in European Car, August 2007:
Here’s a video which highlights some of the Cargraphic modifications including the insane exhaust
Despite this Gallardo being so heavily modified, I wouldn’t be a true Yu brother if I didn’t add my own touch of personalization.
To complete the exterior orange and black color theme of the car, I had the rear stainless steel grills powder coated black and the rear lights plus side markers tinted. Lastly, and I highly recommend this, I had a significant portion of the car wrapped in the latest in clear bra technology.
Clear bra is now virtually optically perfect with minimal orange peel yet offers strong protection from stone chips and road debris. I didn’t want to repeat what happened to my poor 355! (see http://www.auto-journals.com/journals/Ferrari?model=F355&journal=78&entry=401 )
For the interior, I added new black floor mats with an orange bull and matching piping to complement the orange stitching of the interior leather. The finishing touch is a much thicker and nicer to hold perforated leather custom steering wheel with carbon fiber accents (made using the OEM wheel as a starting point).
First impressions are very positive. The sound is unbelievable. It truly is in another league from the Tubis and Capristos on the F cars. The V10 provides nice torque while still revving to 8000 rpm, and the AWD provides assurances no mid engine Ferrari can ever offer. It is also very refined (to be expected coming from my older 355) with the fully adjustable coilovers offering a firm but compliant ride.
And did I mention the attention? Outrageous! The camera phones, thumbs up, yelling and shouting absolutely make you feel like the proverbial rock star. This car is not for the shy or someone wanting to go for a quiet Sunday drive. It is a full in your face, larger than life occasion every time you get behind the wheel. It really is something very, very special and I couldn’t be happier with it.
So now the Gallardo is ready for its first road trip. Where to? Another Paupers’ Run to Vegas of course! Stay tuned to see how it does against the herd of prancing horses…