This is how it all began. When I asked my daughter, Alex, what she wanted for her 16th birthday, her response was immediate. “I’d like to fly to L.A., stay at a neat hotel, drive around in a Gallardo Spyder, see the Leno Show, shop on Rodeo Drive, cruise up the Pacific Coast Highway, and eat in Santa Monica.”
Two weeks later, we checked into the L.A. Airport Sheraton just as the slate gray Gallardo arrived on a transport. For four days, we mounted a massive assault on my credit cards as we played the role of Lambo-owner and daughter in L.A.
The Spyder was born for that city, both in terms of pure bling (Ferrari 430s are bland by comparison), and in terms of the competency of the semi-automatic transmission. Our time in L.A. seemed to consist of endless stretches of traffic-clogged, 5-mph freeways interspersed with brief bursts of triple-digit speeds as we shot through clear spaces.
I have written before that if I were to own one modern supercar, it would be the Gallardo. Clearly, the engineers at Audi have showered enough German attention to detail on the car to give it a tight, rock-solid feel sorely lacking in previous Lambos. Further, the interior is ergonomically agreeable, rather than the sadistic torture chamber we’ve come to expect from some supercars. As a result, the Gallardo has quickly become the best-selling Lamborghini of all time, with well over 3,000 delivered.
And the sound from the engine… David Gooding, of Gooding & Company, stopped by and we went for a quick drive. There is a tunnel near LAX, which we went back and forth through several times, flicking the paddle shifters and causing the engine to blip in a faux double-clutching operation as the car downshifted. Gooding remarked, “The first thing about a car is the noise the engine makes. And this noise is terrific.”
During our four days with the car, we accomplished everything on Alex’s wish list; my maxed-out VISA statements stand in mute testimony. Leno greeted her warmly after his show, the food at the Ivy at the Shore was delicious; Nicole Richie, who sat across from us, obviously gravid, clearly relished being out of jail. SCMer Bruce Meyer took the time to instruct us on the best backroads in the area. “You’ve got to go up Mulholland Drive and then take Decker Canyon Road. It’s the best.” He was right. An unexpected bonus was a dinner with SCM’s Uncle Raymond Milo, at Chocolate, where he presented Alex with a Vuitton handbag, appreciatively accepted.
When I last drove a Gallardo, my heart was set on owning a Ferrari 250 GTE, which was then a $100,000 –$125,000 car. The Lambo, at $200,000+, was simply out of reach. But in the meantime, prices of GTEs have climbed, so a great one is now scratching at $200,000. Which raises the interesting question, vintage V12 2+2 or modern supercar, at about the same price?
Clearly, the Ferrari wins in terms of class, provenance, and long-term collectibility. However as a car I could use every day, the Gallardo is the throttle-down winner. Who would have thought that a by-product of a rising collector car market would be modern supercars becoming, in relative terms, more affordable?