Used car buying guide: Lamborghini Gallardo

Lamborghini Gallardo

Lambo Gallardo turns heads in a way that a Porsche 911 never will

Restrained? Understated? Not a chance. The Lamborghini Gallardo is the epitome of mid-Noughties supercar excess. We find out more

If you think Lamborghini Gallardos are crazy, you want to meet their owners. Like the lurid shades many of the cars are famously painted in, there’s not a shrinking violet among them.

See Lamborghini Gallardo for sale on PistonHeads

The model attracts all sorts, from the track-day hero who roasts the car’s brakes to the vinyl fetishist who wraps it in ‘chrome’. It’s why you need to be extra vigilant when buying one, especially given how, when that bull mascot hoves into view, the heart can take over the head.

A more sensible soul might pop to a Porsche showroom for that most rational of supercars, a 911 – a 2013- reg S PDK with barely 10,000 miles on the clock is yours for £75,000. The same money will just about buy the rare and sought-after manual Gallardo coupé, but it’ll be nine years older than the Porsche, have covered 32,000 miles and be powered by the less well regarded 493bhp 5.0-litre V10, not the much-improved 552bhp 5.2 that replaced it in 2008.

The same sum will also buy the more plentiful (so cheaper) Spyder automatic – an 06-reg with 27,000 miles and the slightly fruitier 513bhp 5.0-litre that appeared in 2005.

Older, higher-mileage Gallardos such as these make that 911 look a shoo-in but for the fact that the Porsche will never turn heads like the Lamborghini. And that is the Gallardo’s chief appeal.

Well, that and the fact that underneath those eye-catching lines, it’s an Audi in all but name, albeit with, crucially, Lamborghini’s DNA running through it.

With striking looks, explosive performance and the promise of A3 levels of quality and reliability, the Gallardo was a hit from the moment it was launched in 2003.

It had a light but stiff aluminium spaceframe, aluminium panels and a mid-mounted 5.0-litre V10 powering all four wheels on demand via a six-speed manual gearbox or a six-speed E-gear paddle-shift auto. In 2005, along with the engine upgrade, the gearbox ratios were shortened and the suspension made sportier. In 2007, the lightened Superleggera arrived with a 523bhp V10.

Nice, but Ferrari’s F430 begged a more serious response and in 2008 it arrived in the form of the Gallardo LP 560-4, a much-revised model powered by the aforementioned 552bhp 5.2 V10. Lighter and with uprated suspension, it breathed fresh life into the Gallardo, which now faced competition from closer to home in the form of the Audi R8 V10 (now there’s a thought: today, a 70,000-miler is around £50,000).

The revived Gallardo spawned a multitude of derivatives, including the LP 550-2 Balboni, a rear-drive version with 536bhp and named for Lamborghini’s legendary test driver. In 2010, the Superleggera made a comeback, this time with 554bhp.

It and other rare spin-offs ensured the Gallardo would end its days in 2013 as easily Lamborghini’s best-selling car. Cue some great used car pickings, but beware the crazy gang.

How to get one in your garage: 

An expert’s view – MARK ROSE, HR OWEN:

“Gallardo prices are all over the place. The model is far more complicated to buy than anything else. We don’t deal with older ones much, but check for track-day use — feathered tyres, worn brakes, gravel stuck in panel gaps. Lots of Gallardos get vinyl wraps so check for paint nicks where it’s been de-wrapped. A surprising number have been clocked, so if the steering wheel is shiny or the driver’s seat bolster is worn but the odometer says 5000 miles, walk away. Check the seller has title to the car; being the keeper on the logbook is one thing, but who actually owns it? I’d buy a 2013 Superleggera LP570-4—around £115k in the trade but £140k retail.”

Buyer beware:

ENGINE – Early 5.0-litre engines are prone to oil pump problems, so have the compression and oil pressure checked. Some owners overfill the dry-sump engine, so dip and check. Engine management light can indicate overheating after disabling of exhaust noise reduction valves. Low-mileage cars can have sticking throttle bodies, causing the engine revs to ‘hunt’.

TRANSMISSION – Expect the auto’s action to feel a little sticky and some clutch slip. A new clutch is around £3000, including a new flywheel (a must). The auto ‘box can be interrogated with a laptop, which should reveal whether updates have been performed. Rare manuals can suffer cable stretch, but that’s all. 

SUSPENSION AND BRAKES – Front pads and discs get a hammering; ball joints, anti-roll bar bushes and track rod ends too. On post-2005 cars check optional front-end lift system works. Check handbrake holds.

BODY – Aluminium body is hard to fix so avoid dents. Side oil cooler vent seam corrosion not unknown. A stonechip- free nose is either protected with film or has been repainted; if the latter, check for ‘blow-over’ areas. Check side vents for stone chips. Non-functioning hood could be a simple solenoid fail.

INTERIOR – Most controls originate from Audi and are trouble-free. Trim is tough but Alcantara steering wheel can wear to a shine and driver’s seat side bolster look scabby.

Also worth knowing:

A properly applied paint protection film on the nose and rear cooling ducts is almost invisible. It needs shaping before application so check for edges lifting and cut marks in the paint where fitters have, literally, cut corners.

How much to spend:

£50,000-£69,995 – Coupés to 05-reg and 60k miles; manuals most expensive. And a 46k- mile, 07-reg 520bhp Spyder for £66k.

£70,000-£79,995 – Early coupés with 35k miles. Also an 09-reg, 38k-mile Spyder auto for £73k.

£80,000- £94,500 – More early coupé manuals, plenty of 07-08 Spyder autos with 25k miles.

£95,000- £109,950 – Up to 2010-reg Spyders and low- mile early coupés, plus a 2007-reg Superleggera with 28k for £100k.

£110,000 – £114,500 – Up to 2013-reg Spyder autos, plus a 2010 coupe manual with 24k for £113k. 

£115,000-ON – The best autos from 2012-on. 

One we found: 

LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO 5.2 COUPÉ AUTO, 2009, 9000 MILES, £104,500 – A private sale, one-owner car with full history, never used on track and bought new from HR Owen. The same dealer has a 2010, with 24,000 miles and a year’s warranty, for £113k.

John Evans 

Read more 

Lamborghini Gallardo review 

Audi R8 V10 review 

Lamborghini Aventador review 

Source: Autocar Online

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