2014 Lamborghini LP 560-2 50th Anniversario

There is no denying the supercar market is much different than it was a few decades ago.

Back in the early days of Ferrari and Lamborghini, supercars were still much faster than anything on the road and carried an entry price far beyond any daily driver, but heavy cable-operated clutches and a lack of power steering or air conditioning meant many of these Italian exotics took a fair bit of effort to operate.

Fast forward to current day and we are now in the era of lightning-fast automated single and twin-clutch gearboxes, dual-zone climate control, and enough infotainment to make your head spin. That’s not to say that current-model supercars aren’t absolutely stupendous vehicles exciting enough to keep you up at night, but the idea of a modern interpretation of that raw, connected driving experience is something that’s becoming more of a rarity.

The real proof of this lies in one of Lamborghini’s latest limited edition vehicles launched to commemorate the brand’s 50th Anniversary.

Slated for 100-car production run with 30 cars coming to North America, the 2014 50th anniversary Gallardo coupe is to be the last rear-wheel drive manual gearbox Lamborghini that will ever be produced.

This may come as a bit of a shock but sales of manual transmission Lamborghinis have been very slow over the last four years. Speculation runs that stick-shift Lamborghinis account for somewhere between five and 10 per cent of overall sales, and the company’s CEO is known to have cracked wise on a few occasions that when he hears of a manual gearbox order he requests to see the paperwork to make sure a mistake wasn’t made.

After a recent meeting with some of the Lamborghini America brass the opportunity was presented to get out in this quintessential piece of Italian goodness, and knowing its limited availability I couldn’t pass it up. Next thing I knew we were off to LA for a four day tour in what one could call the last true enthusiast’s exotic.

From the minute the Gallardo rolled off the truck at our hotel I was smitten. I’ve been a fan of the somewhat harsh angular architecture that makes up a modern Lamborghini for some time and this thing ticked all the boxes.

Rather than rolling out in one of their louder colour pallets, its simple Bianco Opalis white paint and contrasting grey wheels allows the bodywork to really become the centre of focus.

The interior cabin is clad entirely in carbon fibre and black suede with contrasting red stitching that finishes things off nicely. I typically only like carbon fibre in subtle doses, yet the heavy use in the centre console and door handles are appropriate in something as over the top as this. As I sit there glancing around the cockpit I can’t help but be somewhat fixated on the car’s shifter setup. I quickly remind myself that I’ll have forever to look back on this, but I only have so much time to get this thing out on the road.

As we start pushing our way out of the city I’m instantly floored about how driveable the stick shift Gallardo is. My past experience with an E-Gear equipped Lamborghini was much like taming a wild animal, and yet other than being conscious not to bury my foot in it too quickly things felt oddly under control this time around. The Gallardo’s clutch is still on the heavy side, but it’s definitely no worse than anything you’d find from Porsche or BMW.

Once traffic started to thin and the road opened up I was finally able to open it up and let this 560 horsepower V10 monster remind me why it continues to earn fans the world over.

The first qualifier needed when talking about this configuration of the Gallardo is that it is not the model you buy if you care about being faster than your buddies. You could be the next Michael Schumacher or Mario Andretti, but it’s still highly unlikely that you’ll be able to swap gears faster than an E-Gear car can, and this Gallardo’s rear-wheel drive configuration means that both you and the traction control have a fair bit more work in front of you if you want to keep from sliding around and/or lighting up the tires.

In trade for that nominally slower pace the LP 560-2 50th Anniversario delivers a connected driving experience unlike any I’ve experienced outside of a track-ready Porsche 911 GT3. Every bump and groove in the road can be felt through the steering wheel, and because you’re directing the car’s gear changes you always know exactly how much go is available if and when you choose to put your foot down.

Speaking of bumps in the road, although the Gallardo is sprung quite stiffly, I was pleasantly surprised at how tolerable the car is over rough pavement. On our drive from Los Angeles to Palm Springs much of the pavement was a bit on the rough side, and yet after a couple hours on the road we were both more than happy to just keep driving.

It will be a sad day when the manual transmission cars fade away into history, but for those with the means there are likely still a few of this limited run still available.

Now if I could just figure out how to sock away about $200k to get one into my driveway.

About Justin Mastine-Frost