Drives: Step Away From the Vehicle. No Photos, Please
While waiting to take temporary ownership of a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder, I found myself loitering near a fellow auto enthusiast who goes by the name of Seinfeld. He was discussing repairs to one of his classic Porsches while I prayed that the Lambo would arrive in time for us to become pals. We would admire the Spyder's angular Italian body and then zip out to the Hamptons together to party with Billy Joel. Seinfeld left before the car appeared, but I decided to play-act as a celebrity and go to the Hamptons anyway.
I slid into the Spyder's supple leather seats, flipped the switch to drop the soft top, and fired up the 10-cylinder engine. Then I pulled into New York City traffic, only to provoke the honking wrath of cabbies as I fumbled with the electronic shifting system. It's a feature of the automatic version that simulates a clutch pedal and stick with paddles on the steering column. Turns out, if you idle for more than 12 seconds, the car shifts into neutral. So, after a stoplight, the Spyder wouldn't move, and I didn't know which paddle to click. To my horror, all of this happened near a film crew, whose members stopped shooting to laugh at the presumably well-heeled jerk who couldn't operate his expensive toy. But once I got rolling, all mockery ended. The Spyder's power is stupefying. On an empty stretch just past East Hampton, the sounds of the engine bellowing as the winds whipped through the convertible made me feel like I could take off.
The problem was when I slowed down, I was mobbed. At a gas pump, five men circled the car. At a stoplight, a driver aimed a camera phone at me like I was somebody. That assumption turned out to be kind of creepy. I'm glad I didn't hassle Jerry Seinfeld.
2007 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder
$201,400 base price for the manual version, $238,000 as tested
5-liter V-10 engine; 520-hp at 8,000 rpm; 376 pound-feet of torque; 11/18 mpg
Rearview mirrors are for commoners! The Spyder has an optional camera on the rear spoiler that shows the fools crowding your ride via an LCD screen. Also impressive: the suede steering wheel, a rear wing on the back of the car that drops automatically at 80 mph to force air down for better traction, and the thunderous roar of the lightning-fast V-10 engine.
The Gallardo gets poor gas mileage and requires premium. Since I was often under 10 mpg and the tank holds only 21 gallons, driving it cost a fair amount of money ($100 to go roughly 275 miles) and time (two stops at the filling station in less than 10 hours of drive time). Two hundred large just doesn't buy the convenience you'd think it would.