Nine seldom seen Lamborghinis will be on display along California’s Monterey Bay at the August 17 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and Valentino Balboni will being meticulously studying each one. Balboni is not only a 40-year employee of the legendary Italian sports car maker, he is serving as a Class Judge at this year’s Concours, where Lamborghini is a featured marque.
Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., founded by Ferruccio Lamborghini in 1962 and headquartered in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, rocked the world’s car scene with the introduction of the bull-badged Lamborghini 350GTV prototype at the 1963 Turin Auto Show. The production 350GT followed. Then in 1966, Lamborghini unveiled the P400 Miura, the world’s first supercar. The LP400 Countach debuted in 1971, cementing the marque’s reputation as the leading creator of extreme vehicles.
Among the Lamborghinis that Balboni will cast his eye on at Pebble Beach is the earliest known 350GT, the earliest known Miura, and several one-offs with special coachwork.
Balboni is the one man who knows these sexy, sleek cars almost as well as Ferruccio Lamborghini. Balboni began as an apprentice at Lamborghini in 1968 and today he is the company’s chief test driver and head of restoration/customer service. Balboni took his first test drive in a 1973 Miura SV on Sept. 5, 1973.
“I didn’t realize exactly what was going on,” he said. “I thought it was not really me driving a Miura by myself past the company gate. I remember the feeling I was approaching curves too fast, but I wasn’t at all. I was so respectful yet afraid of the car’s performance, but the engine’s sound was making me smile the whole time.”
“They say you never forget your first love, and that Miura was truly my first love. It was personal to me because the car symbolized and embodied Ferruccio Lamborghini’s philosophy. It was an honor to drive it and still it is. The Miura is an icon in sports car history.”
Forty years later, Balboni has tested an estimated 80 percent of all Lamborghinis. “Despite driving so many years and kilometers, everyday is still exciting and fresh with great emotion. My longtime experience makes the driving more easy and pleasant and the feeling is always a friendly sensation.”
Balboni’s long tenure with Lamborghini has not gone unnoticed. He is so appreciated by Lamborghini cognoscenti that Lamborghini Club America recently flew Balboni from Italy to California to celebrate his 40th anniversary with the company. And now he is returning to the United States and heading straight to Pebble Beach.
“I have great satisfaction that Lamborghini is being honored at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance,” he said. “Pebble Beach is the biggest and most famous car show in the world – every enthusiast knows about it. It’s a very exclusive event and it’s important for us to be here. To see my company being honored by Pebble Beach and to be a judge is very satisfying.”
Judging his beloved Lamborghinis at Pebble Beach is a dream comes true for Balboni. “It will be difficult to judge them because they are all authentic and beautiful, but I am happy they asked me to do it. The list of Lamborghinis is very impressive and I know every screw, every part and detail of the cars, so I’m looking forward to judging them.”
One Lamborghini Balboni will be judging is J.W. “Bill” Marriott Jr.’s ’67 Miura P400 Bertone production prototype. “I bought it in Rome in 1967,” said Marriott, chairman and CEO of Marriott International. Like Balboni, Marriott is delighted Lamborghini is being highlighted at the Concours. “Pebble Beach is amazing and an absolute must-event for all car lovers,” he said. “Lamborghini has become an iconic brand. Being a featured marque at Pebble Beach is well deserved as the cars are truly unique.”
[Source: Pebble Beach Concours]