A MATTER OF GENETICS – Auto&Design no.140/2003

It hardly seems appropriate to call it “small”. But after all, it is the baby sister of the Murciélago. On the other hand, with its 5-litre V10 engine that delivers 500 bhp, its high-tech Space Frame and aluminium bodyshell, the Gallardo is a fully-fledged performance sports car. “We launched the project in 1999, asking Italdesign Giugiaro to come up with a design proposal”, reports Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s director of design.

As Project Manager Fabrizio Giugiaro remembers: «we were given a very free hand. They simply asked us “How do you imagine a new, smaller Lamborghini”? They did want it to be extremely innovative, but still faithful to the brand’s tradition». The Gallardo’s short nose with its teardrop-shaped windscreen pushed well forward is a typical piece of Lamborghini architecture given a highly distinctive interpretation on this new model. However the team at Sant’Agata Bolognese did change the look of the Gallardo, as Luc Donckerwolke points out. «Italdesign’s idea was very interesting, but naturally a brand has to manage its own image».

Lamborghini Gallardo

After a series of modifications and tweaking by the Lamborghini team, the tail-end and sides also ended up looking rather different from the 1:1 scale chalk model delivered (together with a maquette of the interior) by Italdesign. «If you change one thing, you have to modify other items to go with it», continues Donckerwolke, «we also had to ensure that the project complied with Audi quality standards, as well as keeping a watchful eye on the integration of carry-over components». That last factor has been handled in truly masterly fashion. Nothing you see or touch looks like a Volkswagen product.