Warm congratulations come from the many Lamborghini enthusiasts' worldwide to Valentino Balboni, the legendary test driver for Automobili Lamborghini SpA for so many decades, and also these days a passionate and valuable representative for the 'Raging Bull' brand.

Balboni has been with Automobili Lamborghini SpA for 40 years now - which is almost as long as the company has been in existence. In fact, it was on 21st April 1967 that none other that the late Ferruccio Lamborghini himself engaged Balboni to work at the Sant'Agata factory. It is safe to say that Balboni has test driven most of the many sports cars that have left the famous gates at Sant'Agata over the last 40 years, and he has rubbed shoulders with all the most important customers in the history of the Raging Bull company. However Balboni didn't actually start his career at Lamborghini as a test driver.

Even when still attending school, the young Valentino rode his bicycle past the factory to admire all those amazing automobiles which were parked outside, and finally, during one summer vacation period he was able to start working on the assembly department, and after graduating, he was able to take up a mechanic's job at Lamborghini. This latter position allowed him to drive the cars in varying state of finish from one area to another, and the enthusiastic Valentino frequently was heard pressing the accelerator a little bit too hard, resulting in a loud roar from the V12 engine and the furious spinning of the rear tyres.

His fellow workers and the engineers didn't really appreciate these actions; however Ferruccio Lamborghini certainly did, and he personally asked Valentino if he would like to become an official test driver for the sports car firm. He really didn't have to think twice about this proposal and gladly accepted the offer which allowed him work under the legendary Bob Wallace, the latter taking on Valentino as his apprentice and as a team together the duo fine-tuned many of the evocative 'Bulls' to emerge from the factory over the following years. Back in those early days though, when cars like the legendary Miura were being built, Valentino and Bob were the only two test drivers' employed at the factory.


Valentino Balboni has test driven most Lamborghini models over the past four decades. Photo: The Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder at Salon Privé in London earlier this month.


Legendary Automobili Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni, who caught Feruccio's eye so many years ago, is celebrating 40 years of service with the Sant'Agata sports car maker.

Together they constantly drove around in pre-production prototypes and reported back to the top engineers of the era such as Stantani, Bevini and Pedastri with engine related issues, or to Dallara when the testing was related to the chassis setup; but as always, Ferruccio had the very last word on all new Lamborghini models. However Valentino and Bob ably turned his bold visions into sorted road cars.

Today, it is a very much changed company: Valentino has no less than 20 fellow test drivers now, of many differing nationalities, including Germans naturally in light of Audi's recent ownership of the brand, and they drive the new cars both on the open road and on enclosed circuits. In the early days it was a different story - back in the late Sixties and throughout the Seventies the cars were quite simply driven on the roads around Sant'Agata, in a hectic programme that went on seven days a week and often late into the evenings because there was no time to waste, Lamborghini had cars to sell, and Valentino and Bob had to make sure that each customer would receive a car he could handle and drive perfectly.

Today Valentino Balboni is the Chief Test Driver at Automobili Lamborghini SpA, but he's also an ever-present face during many the most important Lamborghini related events held all around the world as an ambassador for the company, because he is one of the very few people that remain from the early days and one of the few who have grown up with the company. Valentino today is quite simply a walking encyclopaedia of everything that is Lamborghini related, a genuine, very enthusiastic and likeable person who always has time to share his overriding passion with the many enthusiasts' of the brand.

by Mark Smeyers

Feature courtesy of LamboCars

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