Monday, July 5, 2010

Amazing Lamborghini, Chevrolet and Ferrari

In 1967 Valentino Balboni was hired as a Lamborghini test driver. We've mentioned him in the pages of Road & Track on more than one occasion. Our Design Director Richard Baron remembers him clearly as the young Italian who managed to drive a Countach while sitting on its open door sill. Valentino has given thrill rides to many of us over the years. He's the classic Italian who does everything with flair and, in this case, tire smoke. We all love tire smoke, and he's a master.

That Lamborghini would honor him with a special edition of the Gallardo, the most successful Lamborghini of all time, is no surprise. Nor is the fact that they built this 250 limited edition model as a rear-wheel-drive drift-car special. (This not only saves weight, but allows for the ultimate power slides and tire smoke.)
lamborghini-gallardo-neraThe 550-2 identifies the mid-mounted V-10 making roughly 550 horsepower; the 2, the fact that the car is rear drive. Don't let the numbers fool you, the engine is the same as that in the 560-4. The last 560-4 we tested weighed in at 3595 lb. and losing the front-drive portion of the Gallardo's all-wheel-drive system shaves roughly 550 lb. off the car. To handle the change in balance, custom springs, dampers, roll-bars and tires are incorporated. A limited slip differential and revised stability control system help keep the rear-wheel-drive Lambo on the road even in novice hands. But turn it off and in the hands of a skilled driver like Balboni, the 550-2 is promised to make him smile. The Corsa ESP mode is also set to permit greater drift angles for those who want to have fun, but with a bit of moderation.
2010-Corvette 1
The 2010 Chevrolet Corvette
One can't help but wonder if there are any connections to the Audi R8 GT (also rear-drive.) Although the limited run of 250 cars is small, the Lamborghini can be ordered with optional carbon ceramic brakes and e-gear transmission. The list price of $219,800 is only slightly higher than the last 560-4 we tested and, for those with the skill of Balboni, likely very worth the fun.
-The 2010 Chevrolet Corvette
2010-chevrolet-corvette-1The 2010 Chevrolet Corvette lineup gains a new model, the Grand Sport. Chevy's performance car comes as a coupe and convertible. Both body styles are available in Base and Grand Sport trim levels. Grand Sport replaces the Z51 option package and includes specific styling cues, suspension tuning, brakes, and transmission gearing. These models have a 430-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine. An optional "dual-mode" exhaust system increases horsepower to 436. Transmission choices include a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic. Chevy offers other high-performance Corvette models, the Z06 and ZR1, both available only as coupes. Z06 has a 505-hp 7.0-liter V8, 6-speed manual transmission, specific suspension tuning, tires, and brakes. ZR1 has a supercharged 638-hp 6.2-liter V8 engine and 6-speed manual transmission. ZR1 differs from other Corvettes by its unique suspension tuning and use of lightweight carbon fiber on the hood, roof panel, roof bow, front fascia splitter, and rocker moldings. All manual-transmission Corvette models incorporate GM's new Launch Control, which modulates engine speed in order to maximize grip during full-throttle launches. The ZR1 adds a "Performance Traction Management" system, which automatically adjusts the traction control and suspension to suit high-performance driving. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, and side airbags. Among the available features are a head-up display, navigation system, and wireless cell phone link.
Absent since the C4's demise, the Corvette Grand Sport is back for 2010, this time sporting wider Z06 bodywork, larger brakes and the option of either a Coupe or Convertible. Another commemorative sticker package? Not-so-much.
We know what you're probably thinking and to be perfectly honest, we were thinking it too. This is not another commemorative package, nor is it a sticker package, instead the 2010 Corvette Grand Sport is a bonafide performance package that will help to distinguish the different Corvette models even more so.
Chevrolet's plan is to rid the lineup of the Z51 package Vettes, instead replacing it with a uniquely designed new Grand Sport model. Everything that you know and love about the Z51 will be here, but now, with the help of new Z06-derived bodywork you won't be confused with those driving lesser base-model Vettes.
The 6.2-liter LS3 V8 remains, pumping out the same extremely capable 430 horsepower and 424 lb-ft or torque (436 horsepower and 428 lb-ft with the optional two-mode sport exhaust) and is easily manipulated to do your bidding through either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. The Grand Sport's calipers are distinguished by their silver with red lettering and the rotors have been enlarged to Z06-spec, 14-inch with six-piston calipers in front and 13.4-inch with four-piston grabbers in the rear. Also equipped are revised shock/spring settings and heavier duty stabilizer bars. The 2010 Grand Sport rides on unique 18-inch front and 19-inch rear wheels wrapped in sticky 275/35ZR18 and 325/30ZR19 tires, front and rear.
For those that opt to equip their Grand Sport with the six-speed manual transmission, Chevrolet will throw in a dry-sump oiling system, differential cooler and a rear-mounted battery. All-in-all, these improvements should net an enthusiastic 2010 Grand Sport driver with a 0.2-second improvement over the existing Z51-model.
963 Corvette Grand
The Grand Sport can be equipped in either Coupe or Convertible body styles, but regardless of which you choose, you'll be rewarded with a wider Z06-style front fascia with a Z06 lower lip spoiler, the only thing missing is the scoop on the nose. Z06-width front fenders replace the stock Vette's with a Grand Sport badge sitting atop dual vertical gills. The rear fenders have been replaced with Z06 units with functional brake cooling ducts. You can have your Grand Sport in any available Corvette color as well as all four different available trim levels (1LT, 2LT, 3LT and 4LT). A heritage package is also available, adding a pair of dual stripes on the front fenders in either silver or red. The interior features special Grand Sport embroidery on the seat head rests.
The 2010 Corvette Grand Sport is publicly being announced at the 12th annual C5/C6 Corvette Birthday Bash at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky this weekend. Pricing is yet to be announced, but expect it to be somewhere around current Z51-package pricing. We'll take ours in Coupe-spec painted in Le Mans Blue (Okay fine, Jet Stream Blue) with the red stripes please.

-2010 Ferrari Millechili

What it is: A lightweight two-seater (2200 pounds or even less) loaded with Formula 1 technology. In many ways it will be a successor to the Enzo, but instead of adding power, Ferrari will add lightness. Don't worry-the Millechili name won't be making it to production.
Why it's important: F1 goodies make their way onto a road car. The technology and light weight will make this car spectacularly quick but also fuel efficient.
Platform: A derivative of the F430's aluminum space frame on a slightly longer, 104.3-inch wheelbase. The mid-engine layout will carry a new V-10 of unknown displacement making upwards of 600 horsepower.
Noteworthy technology: Active aerodynamics will manage airflow over the vehicle, thus reducing drag.
Competition: Not much in sight as the current crop of supercars (Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini Murciélago, Mercedes SLR McLaren) are either too heavy or expensive to be considered worthy competitors.
What might go wrong: Not much. The idea of an ultra-lightweight Ferrari sounds plenty good to us.
Estimated arrival and cost: Production is set to begin in 2010. An estimated 300 cars will be built over a couple years. Start saving your Benjamin Franklins as the successor to the Ferrari Enzo will be at least $500,000.

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