The Lamborghini Gallardo buying guide – Supercar performance for sports car money

Lamborghini Gallardo

The Lamborghini Gallardo was a great supercar when new and its popularity has hardly diminished as it settles into modern classic status.

Thanks to parent company Audi’s influence, Lamborghini has long shed its image as a maker of exciting yet frail supercars. Thankfully though, it has lost none of the unhinged madness that sets apart the Sant‘Agata marque from its major rivals.

In the case of the Gallardo, that unique character is thanks to the painstaking development work undertaken to differentiate it from the mechanically similar Audi R8 V10, which shared a number of components. Continuous refinements and updates kept the Gallardo current throughout its decade long production run and there is a marked difference between how the first and last models performed and felt on the road.

The very first Gallardo coupé was launched in 2004, its 5.0-litre V10 pumped out a class-leading 493bhp to all four wheels and could be had with either a traditional six-speed manual, or a single-clutch automatic E-Gear transmission.

Throughout the Gallardo’s production, there were notable updates and changes carried out on an almost yearly basis until production ended in 2013. There were almost 20 Gallardo models in total, including limited edition variants like the desirable RWD LP550-2 Balboni and track-ready LP570-4 Supperleggera. Engine capacity was upped to 5.2-litres in 2008 and power outputs rose incrementally over the years, topping out at 562bhp.

While the Audi connection has added a level of reliability to the Lamborghini supercar formula, don’t expect frugal servicing costs. After all, the Gallardo is still a proper Lambo with many of the quirks and traits that come with a highly-strung midship supercar.

With over 14,000 units sold globally, the Gallardo remains the best selling model in Lamborghini’s long history. That makes for a lot of choice in the used car market but there are still plenty of things to be wary of before taking the plunge.

Lamborghini Gallardo Engine

The earliest 5.0-litre V10s (2004-2005) have been found to have weaker conrod bearings than later cars with upgraded components. Oil pump issues also plagued the earlier cars, so check that the oil pressures are correct and carry out a compression test if anything is suspect. 

Sticking throttle bodies are a relatively easy fix by a specialist, but they do indicate that the car has spent much of its time idling around high streets instead of being driven as intended. The 5.2-litre engines introduced in 2008 offered more power and had direct injection and no recurring issues have been noted with these motors.

Lamborghini Gallardo Gearbox

The rare manuals are a treat but can be notchy in operation. The manual is reliable though, and not prone to issues. The E-Gear transmission is a single-clutch automated manual and is nowhere near as harsh as the modern unit fitted to the Aventador.The shifting action was still a little rough on earlier cars though.The E-Gear automatic was specced on around 80-percent of Gallardos.

Facelifted models have a revised E-Gear setup that gives smoother shifts, software updates can be applied to earlier cars which helps with this. Upgraded clutches were also introduced during the Gallardo’s production run. Clutches are pricey to replace and the flywheel generally needs to be done at the same time too. Their lifespan is driver dependent and can be as short as 5000 miles.

Lamborghini Gallardo Suspension and brakes

The suspension setup is largely trouble-free, but check for any cracked bushes or uneven tyre wear; this indicates worn shocks or bad alignment. The optional nose-lift system can fail if unused and the anti-roll bar bushes can exhibit excessive wear, this is cured by fitting uprated parts available from the dealers.

Steel brakes of varying diameters were fitted to the majority of cars and carbon ceramic brakes were an option from 2007 onwards. Both setups work well, although replacing the carbon ceramic setup is costly. Aftermarket wheels are not uncommon, but this can affect resale value so be sure to have the originals included in the sale if possible.

Lamborghini Gallardo Bodywork and interior

The aluminium chassis is lightweight but repairs to it or the body panels are expensive. Consequently, make sure to check for evidence of accident damage and that panels align properly. Wraps are a popular modification on these cars and they can hide a number of bodywork issues, so approach with caution.

The Audi-sourced switchgear is hard wearing and everything should work as expected. Unlike in previous Lambos, the aircon blows cold air and the only wear and tear on low mileage models should be on the driver seat base and bolsters.

lamborghini Gallardo Model History 

2003: Lamborghini Gallardo coupé introduced with a 493bhp 5.0-litre V10 in 2003 as a 2004MY model. Six-speed manual and six-speed E-Gear transmissions were available

2005: Detail changes to gear ratios, exhaust, suspension and steering introduced. Power now up to 513bhp

2006: Gallardo Spyder unveiled

2007: Gallardo Superleggera released, lightweight panels reduced kerbweight by 100kg. Power was up to 523bhp. 618 units built globally

2008: Second generation Gallardo unveiled. New 552bhp 5.2-litre V10 replaces old unit. Updated E-Gear transmission now incorporates Corsa mode for quicker shifts. Both coupé and spyder variants available

2009: Valentino Balboni LP 550-2 model released. Available solely in RWD and six-speed manual transmission. 250 produced globally

2010: New Superleggera introduced, offering 562bhp and cutting a further 38kg off the previous models kerb weight

2013: Production of the Lamborghini Gallardo comes to an end (sold as 2014 MY models) with the final figure of cars built at just over 14,000

A number of special edition models were built over the years, generally differentiated by unique colour options and customisations

Which Lamborghini Gallardo to buy

The sheer number of cars on the road and a relatively accessible price point, means that many Gallardos have been through a lot more owners and seen more regular use than you might expect. Prices vary greatly as does the quality of what is out there. This is bookmarked by heavily modified early models with big mileage and mint condition garage queens..

Keep an eye out for track abused examples or ones that seem tired compared to the claimed mileage. In general, the later models (especially post-2008) are the ones to have thanks to the continuous refinements over the years. Models like the LP570-4 Spyder Performante and both Superleggera variants are always going to demand big numbers. 

High prices should also be expected with the sought-after LP550-2 Valentino Balboni, which was the only rear-wheel-drive Gallardo produced (aside from a handful of one-off specials). This car also came equipped exclusively with a manual gearbox, while the vast majority of Gallardos were equipped with the E-Gear automatic transmission.

With so much choice out there, you can afford to be a little picky. Whether you are looking for an appreciating future classic or a track day toy for the weekends, there is a Gallardo that fits the bill.


Lamborghini Gallardo Specifications

5.0-LITRE V10

Power:             493-523bhp

Top speed:      201mph

0-60mph:        4.2sec

Economy:       20mpg est.


5.2-litre V10

Power:             552-562bhp

Top speed:      202-204mph

0-60mph:        3.2-3.6sec

Economy:       20mpg est.

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Text John Tallodi  Photos Lamborghini, Newspress, Classic Trader

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