We are about a 100km out of Mumbai city but it seems a whole world away. The road is a jet-black strip of asphalt twisting its way through a tunnel of green and the air is still. The birds’ chirping is suddenly drowned out by a menacing growl as a speck of Nero Noctis black enters the frame. The orchestra of Lamborghini’s V10 mechanicals rises to a crescendo as the LP550-2 flashes past. Behind the wheel of this raging bull, whooping with glee, is an excited little boy the world knows as John Abraham. Yes, John has a new toy in his garage and he invited Autocar India along for a ride.
In this shoot, there is no air-conditioned vanity van or a man Friday following him with an umbrella to protect him from the sun. Instead, embarrassingly, we don’t even have a glass of cold water to offer him while he poses for our cameras in the sweltering heat. He has no starry airs, no demands – John’s just a normal guy who doesn’t flaunt his stardom. In fact, it’s hard to believe that this man is a mega Bollywood star.
John is only half-bawa, but he is fully mad when it comes to his cars and bikes. During the shoot, we had to clip a mike to the actor’s belt, which scraped the leather seat. John’s pain at this sacrilege was visible to everyone. The Lamborghini dealer in Mumbai is also familiar with John’s bawa side, since the slightest squeak or rattle has the actor calling them up and obsessing over it.
John, who considers himself a motorcyclist at heart, wanted something that would give him the extreme rush of two wheels, on four. Unable to make up his mind, he turned to Autocar India for direction and found himself pointed to the Lamborghini showroom, where he fell in love at first sight. The black Gallardo LP550-2 was everything that John wanted. It was a Gallardo, and John is a Gallardo fan. It was a rear-wheel- drive car, and John loves to drive. It was perfect but for one thing – the wheels. He wanted black Calisto wheels. And what a Lamborghini owner wants, he gets.
Unfortunately, money can’t buy you the roads you need to enjoy this car in Mumbai. The carbreakers, known as speed-breakers, will happily demolish this low-slung car. So what’s the point of buying this car if you can’t enjoy it? John does not completely agree. He says, quote-unquote: “I can guarantee that I have driven this car from Taj Colaba to the international airport, and she has touched nowhere.”
Did he drive it on the same roads that we do? Now here’s the secret. John here again in his own words: “There’s a switch by which you can lift it up a bit. I just need to press that when approaching the speedbreakers, she goes up and I take her around.” Okay, speed-breakers conquered. But what about Mumbai’s notorious traffic? Here is another Autocar scoop: John is mad. He gets up in the wee hours of the morning to drive the car. Not just the Lambo, but all his cars and bikes! Here’s John’s confession: “I drive my Gallardo on alternate nights and she’s like my love story. I get up at two or three in the morning and take her for a drive. Then I take my bikes for a ride. So it’s just a beautiful process that I enjoy. This is my night affair – I drive to Colaba and back via the Sea Link, through Marine Drive.” John sure has some exotic company to keep him awake.
Above: Who's attracting more attention- the star or the car? Hard to tell.
But not everything in John’s garage is an exotic. Case in point, the humble Maruti Gypsy. “The Gypsy is my everyday car, I love it. My dad had booked a Gypsy and we couldn’t get it, for reasons best known to us. So I decided I will get one and I will keep it for posterity. I got one and you guys in Autocar India helped design it,” reminisces John.
But this story isn’t about John’s Gypsy, since we have already told you all about it in our April 2009 issue. So back to the Lamborghini Gallardo LP-550-2. “For a six-footer like me, the car is simply awesome. The space is good and the steering very good. And the car is brilliant in Corsa mode. I love the way the engine revs, the noise it makes and the sheer ferocity of the gearshifts,” he says. Mind you, John Abraham is not a brand ambassador for Lamborghini.
Above: "I love the power and the noise. The grip is fantastic too."
If John Abraham has a guru, it has to be Jay Leno. He says, “I just hope I become like Jay Leno one day. I have my set of cars and motorcycles, and even Jay Leno has two Gallardos. He loves his LP550-2 and he says that for an actual car driver, it’s probably the best car you can drive.”
Well, John, all we can say from the Autocar India family is, we don’t know much about cinema but we do know the smell of burning rubber. And the adrenalin rush of a V10 in your backpack. And that, John Abraham, means you are one of us. Welcome to the fraternity.