The Italian Junkyard

Thoughts, ideas, criticism about cars. Interesting news and facts from the world of the automobile. Events in Italy and Modena. What you can find elsewhere, filtered through the eyes of a discerning enthusiast. Design, style, everything on the chopping block. Nobody is safe anymore.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1.3 Lamborghini's evil twins

Moving forward to the next chapter, but let's stay in the same family. Let's talk about Lamborghini.
The similarities between the first gen of both the Gallardo and the Murcielago are quite evident but not excessive. Probably the smaller one wouldn't have been recognized as a Lamborghini at first, since a model slotted under the V12 car was lacking from the brand's line-up since more than 15 years, so a similar style was required. Also, to prove the Gallardo has its own personality, there are some renderings of the rumored new Lotus Esprit, and those drawings are based on the V10 car from Sant'Agata Bolognese. It's very easy to see the Gallardo under the photoshopped pixels too.
So what's the problem with Lamborghini?
Two main points, the Reventòn, easy to say, and the Audi R8, just to call Audi back on topic.
Let's start with the first: I'm not going to discuss now and here the car itself, but if you think that paying about four times the price for just a rebodied Murcielago LP640 it's fine, now think what would have been its price if it was a whole new project, or just using an existing drivetrain, but still destined to exists in only 20 units.
The two cars are completely equal when it comes to the technical and structural side, apart from the exhaust. Last summer I visited Lamboghini's museum and factory, and I was walking trough the assembly lines while the 17th Reventòn was under construction, say at a ¾ stage of process, so a lot of panels and even a large part of the interiors were missing. It looked exactly like all the Murcielagos around it. Still the main critique they received, the car and Lamborghini itself for it, was being so expensive compared to the car it was based on.
Maybe it was its exiting bodywork, the idea of something finally really hi-tech-looking and actually available, the idea of owning the only jet-fighter for the road, to induce people to be so indulgent with the car, after the initial fuzz about the price. I've been disliking the car for quite some times, and my main point was the idea behind it, rather than the car itself and its look, and it's something not supposed to be discussed here.
(I guess this means another Reventòn-related post coming in the future)

Talking about the Gallardo, I have to admit I've never been a fan of it. I can confirm the car is more of an Audi than of a Lamborghini, with all its mechanical parts being labeled with Audi's signatures here and there, and being only assembled out of the main parts at Lamborghini's factory.
That's not the point here, but rather the fact the car seems to have been just a test for Audi, forecasting the R8 launch. It's renown that the cars share the same underpinnings basically, and the fact is even more evident now that the German sister is available with the former V10 of the Italian one. Audi tried to keep the exclusivity of both models quite high since the beginning, building, or selling, just small amounts of the R8 at first, in order to make it desirable without killing the Gallardo. There hasn't been such an Audi since, well, ever, so customers had to be used to this new product: a relatively low price and exhilarating performance were the ingredient (ask Nissan about the GT-R then). Quite some critics fell on Audi and what it supposedly did to Lamborghini, at first, but these people have been soon shouted up with those two ingredients. No wonder, after more than four years of testing in an even more powerful model, both sides were probably highly refined.
Even with the advent of the V10 version, no one made a big deal out of it, raising the only doubt it could cannibalize Gallardo's sales.

So it seems there's no problem if sharing parts is done to bring more exotics to the market, which is a good thing no doubts about that, but at the same time, I'm wondering if we should actually mind marriages and relationships among brands from so different social classes. Was the R8 really required? Maybe a V8 Gallardo, perhaps a brand new Lamborghini model, could have done even more, but the simple answer is that Audi lacked the sporty model to showcase its motorsports abilities even on the road. Even if a soccer player doesn't pay attention to the fuel adopted by the Le Mans winning car, or to the one dominating DTM's races, he definitely wants the latest exotic on the market.

photos sources: Gallardo chassis,R8 chassis

The next example will bring this issue in my own present town.

gif sources: Reventòn and Murcièlago LP640,
gif created by myself.

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