I imagine hearing another story about a car YouTuber buying a Lamborghini may be so boring at this point that it’s almost a cliche. It’s also way out of character for me, since this 2004 Gallardo I purchased isn’t even a little broken, and it was not the cheapest available by a wide margin — and it’s certainly not a hooptie. For those of you longing for the days when I got overjoyed at the purchase of a Chrysler Lebaron, I appreciate you hanging in there while I’ve gone Hollywood. Still, if you set aside the fact that this Lamborghini is the village bicycle of automotive YouTubers and peel back the logo, you’ll find that underneath all of those Audi parts is a really special car.
I’m well aware that being 32 years old in YouTube years is like being 82, and I can’t imagine holding anybody’s interest when I’m 40 and still buying broken luxury cars. Unlike many of my contemporaries, who have a talent for finding quirks and features or actual mechanical skills to ensure their long-term viability, I have zero talent. The only thing I’ve shown any aptitude for is my ability to make horrible purchase decisions, and my willingness to document the depths of my stupidity. Thankfully, it’s been a pretty good ride on this one-trick pony, but before I beat that horse to death, I decided to indulge myself just this once and buy the nicest car I could afford.
For those who saw my last post, this is indeed what I traded my modern, fast and very finicky McLaren MP4-12C for. With a little bit of money added on top, I was able to buy this 2004 Gallardo with the coveted 6-speed manual transmission and less than 4,000 original miles on the odometer. The ownership history is spotless and the car is flawless — and I didn’t have a single worry driving this Italian exotic 500 miles home. The Ferrari dealer I purchased this Gallardo from took it on trade toward a new $400,000 Ferrari 812 Superfast, so clearly, the previous owner had the means to pamper this vehicle. Since he barely drove it 1,000 miles during his 14 years of ownership, I doubt it needed much. The selling dealer was kind enough to replace the original tires and refresh the fluids before selling it to me. After all these years of buying hoopties, where the purchase usually feels like I’m swimming through a scummy swamp, this experience felt like a day at the spa.
Still, of all the cars that I could buy without my usual restrictions, why did I pick the Gallardo? There’s certainly plenty of other great supercars to choose from, plenty of more exciting choices that would create lots of creative and original content to exploit with my videos. So maybe buying this car was a bad idea, but for me personally, I can’t think of any other exotic for the money that ticks so many boxes in the WINNING column.
Of course, there are some negatives that everybody loves to point out with the Gallardo as well, and the obvious infusion of Audi technology is low-hanging fruit for the naysayers. Yes, it has a dashboard, climate control, radio and plenty of other switches that are near identical to those found in the cheapest Audi sedan. And it’s the first mass-produced Lamborghini, with 14,000 sold during its 10-year run. When production on the Gallardo ended in 2014, it accounted for half of all Lamborghinis sold in the company’s entire history, so the Gallardo, in general, will probably never be a rare collectible like any of Lamborghini’s older offerings.
Even worse, the 2004 that I chose to buy is the slowest version. The 493-horsepower 5.0-liter V10 isn’t the problem, but the tall gearing of first and second gear is to blame for the unimpressive 0-to-60 mph time of 4.7 seconds. By 2006, power was upped to 520, and different gearing helped shave nearly a second off this obsessed acceleration figure. Most seek out the newer Gallardos for this reason, as well as the later LP models that did a better job of disguising their Audi roots. For me, though, I see these negative traits as a major positive.
Before Lamborghini was saved by Volkswagen/Audi, the company’s first smaller, more affordable Lamborghini, the Jalpa, was widely panned, which possibly hastened the brand’s descent into bankruptcy. After being run by the Italian government for years, Lamborghini was eventually sold to Chrysler for only $25 million. This proved to be a really bad relationship, as the Italians battled with Chrysler on the direction of the Diablo, delaying its launch for years and collaborating on some really bad concept cars in the interim. One of those failed concepts, called the Portofino, eventually inspired the design of the first generation Dodge Intrepid.
By 1994, Chrysler finally gave up on taming the Italians into a profit and sold Lamborghini to a partnership of Indonesian/Malaysian companies that appear to have had no idea what to do with a brand. The development of another smaller, more affordable Lamborghini was discussed, but without proper funding or a partnership with another car company, this would have been a very difficult task. A financial crisis in Asia in the late ’90s finally brought Lamborghini to more capable hands, and with the help of Volkswagen/Audi, Lamborghini finally found financial stability and huge success with the development of the Gallardo.
Of course, Audi benefited from this union as well, eventually sharing the Gallardo platform to create the R8. While some may snub my Lamborghini for its heavy German influence, I actually like it, especially since many of the maintenance and replacement parts for my Gallardo are shared with the cheaper Audi. For example, hundreds of dollars can be saved by ordering the replacement front brakes for the RS6, which are identical. Since Gallardos have a similar computer system to even the cheapest Volkswagens, just about any auto shop can plug into these cars for detailed diagnostics as well.
Most Gallardos, especially the early models, are plagued with a horrible E-gear automated manual transmission, which is known for eating clutches very quickly, and thanks to specialized computers needed to synchronize the system, a clutch replacement can cost over $10,000. This system is also known for being jerky and unpredictable, but thankfully my Gallardo has the coveted gated 6-speed manual transmission. It’s estimated that only 10-15% of Gallardos were sold with the manual transmission which, in my incapable hands, makes the car even slower.
I love that my Gallardo is "slow." This means I can run the car through the gears and hear the engine race to the redline on a highway onramp without hitting speeds that would send me directly to jail. It’s impossible to feel the same rush with a modern supercar on public roads legally thanks to their insane acceleration figures. There are plenty of slower vintage exotics that give a similar experience, but none offers the reliability of the Gallardo. Unlike my old Ferrari F355, I don’t have to worry about it burning to the ground every time I drive it.
I’m also hoping my Gallardo will hold its value well and maybe even appreciate if I keep it long enough, since the Gallardo was the last Lamborghini offered with a manual transmission. I’m noticing that most owners of manual Gallardos tend to drive their cars more often as well, so finding a low mileage example like mine is even rarer. Still, I’m trying not to be paranoid about putting too many miles on this car and sinking the value because I really want to enjoy this time-capsule-quality car as much as possible.
My first 24 hours of ownership already amounts to half the mileage the previous owner added over the past 15 years, so I’m doing a decent job of making up for the lack of use. Having a reliable Lamborghini may not be the most original or interesting subject, but don’t worry, even with my current fleet, I’m still buried in enough hopeless car projects to last several lifetimes. Find a Lamboghini Gallardo for sale