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The History and Evolution of the Lamborghini Diablo

In the 1980s, the Lamborghini company was financially backed by the Mimran brothers of Switzerland. It was at this time that the brand made the decision it was time to design a successor for their flagship Countach sports car. They had a clear picture of the performance expectations and it would be a supercar capable of reaching a speed of no less than 196 mph. Marcello Gandini was signed on as the designer and began work on the cryptic project titled Project 132. The new flagship sportscar would be realized with its first production model rolling off the lines in 1990 as the Lamborghini Diablo which would run until 2001.

A series of pre-production changes

Lamborghini was purchased in 1987 by the Chrysler Company and the management was not pleased with the design of the new sports car. They assigned their Detroit design team to conduct a redesign and soften the sharp lines of the prototype, which failed to impress the original designer. When all was said and done, the new Diablo was manufacture by Manufacturer Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A., Assembled in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy.

The new Diablo went on sale on January 21, 1990. It was truly a luxury throughout with an Alpine stereo system, fully adjustable steering wheel and seats, and electric windows. It achieved amazing balance with the mid-mounted engine and rear wheel drive. This beauty was powered with a 5.7-liter V12 engine with multi-point fuel injection that was computer controlled. It cranked 485 bph and 484 lb-ft of torque. The 1990 Diablo was tested with an acceleration speed reaching from zero to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds with a top speed of a blazing 202 mph.

In 1993, power steering became a standard inclusion in the base package. If desired, additional options could be added including a custom molded driver's seat, a rear spoiler, a Breguet dash clock, a remote CD changer and subwoofer, and a factory fitted luggage set.

1992 Roadster Concept variant

In 1992 the Diablo Roadster was designed as a prototype and it was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in 1992. The open top concept featured a shortened visor in the place of a windshield and a strengthened chassis with a type of barchetta styling of the body. Roll bars over the seats, and different engine cover including a mid-tunnel for increased airflow and the signature scissor-style doors for ergonomics. Although not intended to be a production vehicle, the public called for releases and permission was granted to build a few conversions of the model until 1995 when the Diablo VT roadster was introduced.

The Diablo VT was launched in 1993 and was produced through 1999. This model saw the addition of all-wheel drive and living up to its name, viscous traction. The handling was improved by the new drivetrain that directed twenty-five percent of the torque to the front wheels as a traction remedy for times of rear wheel slip. There were also a few refinements to the engine, brakes and power steering.

Diablo SE30

In 1993, the SE30 and the SE30 Jota were launched as limited production specials. This commemorates the 30th anniversary of the company. The super fast sports model was intended to be a racing vehicle that was street legal with increased power over the standard Diablo and a lighter weight with a tuned fuel system that cranked 523 horsepower offered in rear wheel drive.

Diablo SV

The Diablo SV made its first appearance at the Geneva Motor show in 1995 without four-wheel drive and a power output of 510 bhp with the torque of 428 lb-ft. An adjustable rear spoiler and a carbon fiber body in an entry-level model, slightly below the standard Diablo.

Diablo VT Roadster

The VT roadster came out in December of 1995 and ran through 1998 with a new engine lid for proper venting, revised 17-inch wheels and larger air intakes on the top and sides. The wheels were later upgraded to 18 inches with an engine power of 530 and a top speed of 208 mph.

Diablo Coatl

This prototype is one of just a few produced and features heavy modifications of a VT with an uptuned engine output that achieved over 600 bhp.

Diablo SV

The Diablo SV got a facelift in 1999 with the discontinuation of the base model this was the new entry-level trim for the line

Diablo SV SE35

In 1999 the Diablo SV SE35 came out as a limited production model in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the company and just 9 were ever produce.

Diablo VT and VT Roadster

The 1999 VT Roadster was produced with US specs as a second generation VT Coup and roadster with some mechanical and cosmetic upgrades.

1999 Diablo GT

The Diablo GT was produced with notable differences on the exterior with a carbon fiber for the air dam, a central vent for the oil cooler and large brake ducts.

Diablo VT 6.0 and VT 6.0 SE

Produced after the 1998 takeover of Audi AG, the modernized version of the Diablo was introduced just prior to the Murcielago was to enter the scene with significant changes in both interior and exterior styling.

Diablo GT1 Stradale

The Stradale was produced in 1996 as a racing car featuring a new engine with a max output of 655 horsepower and 507 lb-ft of torque.

Diablo SV-R

The SV-R was made public at the Geneva Motor Show in 1996 as a lightweight competition variant of the SV specifically designed for motorsports

Diablo GT2

Lamborghini's stripped down interior racer created specifically for entry into the GT2 class racing.

Diablo VTTT

Six of these were made in 1995 in a limited production run that saw an additional 2 in 1998. These cars were racing types with three engine settings including valet mode along with two turbocharger boost levels. They achieved a top speed of 222 mph with 650 horsepower and a price tag of $500,000

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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