This Is the Last Italian Supercar Equipped With a Manual Transmission
Standard Lamborghini Gallardo LP550-2 pictured. From lamborghini.com
Road & Track reports that Lamborghini will commemorate the final year of production for the “entry level” Gallardo by creating a special, rear-wheel drive version in the vein of the limited LP 550-2 Balboni edition. This Gallardo will be a bit more stripped down than the current Gallardo (I doubt that it will go as far as the Superleggera), and it will be the last Lamborghini available with three pedals in the footwell. But that also means it will be the last Italian supercar with a manual transmission. The end of an era, as it were.
The slow death of the manual transmission is something that has been well cataloged, here and elsewhere, so I will try not to repeat myself. Yes, a stick is more engaging, fun to drive, etc., but fewer and fewer people buy them as time goes on and more young people view cars as an appliance rather than a comfortable seat on top of wheels that ignites the normally repressed inner child of the driver (which is how I view the experience). Even the Italians, who conceived and perfected the supercar, have moved on. Everybody knows Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati, and people that watch Top Gear also are aware of Pagani, and even the odd Alfa Romeo sneaks in sometimes.
In 2009, Ferrari announced the replacement for its bread-and-butter V8 supercar, the F430, and the 458 Italia was beautiful and aggressive compared to its plain-looking predecessor. Even bigger news than the styling was that it was to be the first mainstream Ferrari not offered with the choice of a manual transmission, because its Formula 1-derived sequential gearbox shifted gears far more quickly than any human could. It didn’t take long for this move to turn into a trend and quickly proliferate the super- and hypercar world. The 2012 Ferrari California was the last year a manual transmission could be had from that marque, and according to Automobile Magazine, only two were ever sold (coincidentally, if you own one of these two, garage it now and lock it up. Ferrari collectors tend to appreciate milestones). Lamborghini’s Aventador eschews a stick in favor of a single-clutch automated manual, although the general consensus from the automotive press suggests that it’s far from perfect. Pagani hasn’t made a manual-equipped car since the early Zondas, and Maserati hasn’t produced one since the Coupé died in the mid-2000s.
When the special edition Gallardo arrives, it will not only commemorate Lamborghini’s most popular car ever sold, but it will also sadly mark the end of Italian supercars that present the owner with the choice of a manual transmission. At least the V10 engine will only power the rear wheels, as it was in the pre-VAG Lamborghinis of old. It is a perfect sendoff for a perfect, if long-in-the-tooth, supercar. May it rest in peace.