The Lamborghini Diablo is a high-performance mid-engine sports car built by Italian automotive manufacturer Lamborghini between 1990 and 2001. It is the first production Lamborghini capable of attaining a top speed in excess of 320 kilometres per hour (200 mph). After the end of its production run in 2001, the Diablo was replaced by the Lamborghini Murciélago. The name Diablo means "devil" in Spanish.
History of development
At a time when the company was financed by the Swiss-based brothers Jean Claude and Patrick Mimran, Lamborghini began development of what was codenamed Project 132 in June 1985 as a replacement for the Countach, Lamborghini's then flagship sports car. The brief stated that the top speed of the new car had to be at least 315 km/h (196 mph).
The design of the car was contracted to Marcello Gandini, who had designed its two predecessors. When Chrysler Corporation bought the company in 1987, funding the company to complete the car's development, its management was uncomfortable with Gandini's designs and commissioned its design team in Detroit to execute a third extensive redesign, smoothing out the infamous sharp edges and corners of Gandini's original design, and leaving him famously unimpressed. In fact, Gandini was so disappointed with the "softened" shape that he would later realise his original design in the Cizeta-Moroder V16T.
The new car was named Diablo, carrying on Lamborghini's tradition of naming its cars after breeds of fighting bulls. The Diablo was named after a ferocious bull raised by the Duke of Veragua in the 19th century, famous for fighting an epic battle with 'El Chicorro' in Madrid on 11 July 1869.
The development is believed to have cost a total of 6 billion Italian lira.
he Diablo was presented to the public for sale on 21 January 1990. Its power came from a 5.7 L (348 cu in) dual overhead cam, 4 valves per cylinder version of the existing V12 engine and computer-controlled multi-point fuel injection, producing a maximum output of 492 PS (362 kW; 485 hp) and 580 N⋅m (428 lbf⋅ft) of torque. The vehicle could reach 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in about 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 325 km/h (202 mph). The Diablo was rear-wheel drive and the engine was mid-mounted to aid its weight balance.
The Diablo came better equipped than the Countach; standard features included fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, electric windows, an Alpine stereo system, and power steering from 1993 onwards. Anti-lock brakes were not initially available, although they would eventually be used. A few options were available, including a custom-molded driver's seat, remote CD changer and subwoofer, rear spoiler, factory fitted luggage set (priced at $2,600) and an exclusive Breguet clock for the dash (priced at $10,500).
Diablo Roadster Concept
1992 Lamborghini Diablo Roadster prototype, a car from which many design features were carried out to the Lamborghini Diablo VT and the VT Roadster
Introduced at the 1992 Geneva Motor Show, the Diablo roadster concept showcased what a possible open top version of the car would look like. The roof was removed and the car had a shortened visor in place of the windshield which made its way to the doors indicating the adaptation of the barchetta body style. The chassis was strengthened in order to compensate for the loss of the roof and the car featured many unique components some of which made their way to the later variants of the Diablo. Such components included larger air intakes near the rear wing and the sides of the car for better engine cooling, a visor mounted rear view mirror, roll bars over the seats, unique wheels in body colour of the car and a unique engine cover which included a tunnel in the middle for better airflow over the rear view mirror. The signature scissor doors were retained despite the loss of the roof and the interior became more ergonomic and featured a unique two-tone beige colour. The concept generated a positive response among the public and demand among customers for such a car. As the car was not intended for production, German tuner Koenig Specials, with Lamborghini's permission, converted customer cars into replicas of the concept. The cars featured different front and rear bumpers along with wheels than that of the concept due to copyright issues along with an upgraded engine. The conversion was no longer offered upon the request of Lamborghini as the company introduced the Diablo VT roadster in 1995.
Lamborghini Diablo VT
The Diablo VT was introduced in 1993. Although the VT differed from the standard Diablo in a number of ways, by far the most notable change was the addition of all wheel drive, which made use of a viscous center differential (a modified version of LM002's 4WD system). This provided the new nomenclature for the car (VT stands for viscous traction). The new drivetrain could direct up to 25% of the torque to the front wheels to aid traction during rear wheel slip, thus significantly improving the handling characteristics of the car.
Interior. Note the indicator stalk from the Morris Marina.
Other improvements debuting on the VT included front air intakes below the driving lamps to improve brake cooling, larger intakes in the rear arches, a more ergonomic interior with revised electronically adjustable dampers, four-piston brake calipers, power steering and minor engine refinements. Many of these improvements, save the four-wheel drive system, soon transferred to the base Diablo, making the cars visually nearly identical.
Diablo SE30 and SE30 Jota
Lamborghini Diablo SE30
The Diablo SE30 was introduced in 1993 as a limited-production special model to commemorate the company's 30th anniversary. The car was designed largely as a street-legal race vehicle that was lighter and more powerful than the standard Diablo. The engine received a boost to 530 PS (390 kW; 523 hp) by means of a tuned fuel system, free-flowing exhaust, and magnesium intake manifolds. The car remained rear-wheel drive to save weight, and omitted the electrically adjustable shock absorbers of the VT model, but was equipped with adjustable-stiffness anti-roll bars which could be controlled from the interior, on the fly.
The car's weight was lowered by replacing the power glass side windows with fixed plexiglas (with a small sliding vent window as on many race cars) and removing luxury features such as the air conditioning, stereo, and power steering. Carbon fibre seats with 4-point race harnesses and a fire suppression system added to the race nature of the vehicle.
On the outside, the SE30 differed from other Diablo models with a revised front fascia featuring straked brake cooling ducts and a deeper spoiler, while the rear cooling ducts were changed to a vertical body-colored design. The raging bull emblem was moved from the front of the luggage lid to the nose panel of the car between the front indicators. The engine lid had slats covering the narrow rear window, while a larger spoiler was installed as standard equipment. The single rear fog lamp and rear backup lamp, which had been on either side of the rear grille, were moved into the bumper; this change would be applied to all Diablo models across the lineup. Completing the exterior variations were special magnesium alloy wheels, SE30 badging, and a new metallic purple paint color (this could be changed upon request).
Only 150 SE30 models were built, and of these, about 15 were converted to "Jota" specification (although 28 Jota kits were produced). The "Jota" was a factory modification kit designed to convert the race-oriented SE30 into an actual circuit racer, albeit at the cost of street-legal operation. A revised engine lid with two ducts protruding above the roofline forced air into the intake system; a similar lid design would later be used on the Diablo SV model. With even more tuning of the Diablo's venerable V12 engine, it had a power output of nearly 603 PS (444 kW; 595 hp) and 639 N⋅m (471 lb⋅ft) of torque. The rear-view mirror from the interior was also removed because it was completely useless in conjunction with the revised engine lid, further adding to the race feeling of the car.
Acceleration (Test By Hot Rod Magazine)
0-30 mph (48.3 km/h): 1.8 sec
0-60 mph (96.6 km/h): 3.3 sec
0-80 mph (128.7 km/h): 4.9 sec
0-100 mph (160.9 km/h): 7.0 sec
0-120 mph (193.1 km/h): 9.9 sec
0-1⁄4 mi (400 m): 11.4 sec @ 128.5 mph
30–120 mph (48.3–193.1 km/h): 8.1 sec
The Diablo SV was introduced in 1995 at the Geneva Motor Show, reviving the Super Veloce title first used on the Miura SV. The SV is based on the standard Diablo and thus lacks the four-wheel drive system of the VT. A notable feature of the SV is an increase in power output to 517 PS (380 kW; 510 hp) at 7,100 rpm and 580 N⋅m (428 lbf⋅ft) of torque at 5,900 rpm which, paired with the two-wheel drive layout, can increase the likelihood of loss of traction during hard driving. Despite its higher power output, the SV was priced as the entry-level model in the Diablo range, falling below the standard Diablo by a small margin. An adjustable rear spoiler was installed as standard equipment and could be color-matched to the car body or formed from carbon fibre. Other exterior changes included black tail lamp surrounds, repositioned rear fog and reverse lamps as on the SE30, dual front fog lamps (rather than the quad style found on all previous models), an extra set of front brake cooling ducts, an engine lid similar to that installed on the Diablo SE30 Jota, and optional "SV" decals for the sides of the car. The SV also featured larger diameter front brakes (340 mm (13.4 in)) and a corresponding increase in front wheel size to 18 inches.
In 1998, a limited 20-car run of the Diablo SV was produced exclusively for the United States market and called the Monterey Edition. The most notable feature of this edition was the use of the SE30/VT Roadster style of air intakes in front of the rear wheels, unlike the traditional (and persisting) SV style. Several of the cars were painted in unusual, vibrant colours. One Monterey Edition, featuring an upgraded engine and brakes, was driven by Mario Andretti during the Lamborghini-sponsored "Running of the Bulls" event in California.
Need for Speed III: Hot Pursuit uses the Lamborghini Diablo SV as the flagship car of the game. The car became emblematic of the Need for Speed franchise, making several appearances throughout later entries in the series.
Diablo VT Roadster
1995–1998 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster
The Diablo VT Roadster was introduced in December 1995 and featured an electronically operated carbon fibre targa top which was stored above the engine lid when not in use. Besides the roof, the roadster's body was altered from the fixed-top VT model in a number of ways. The front bumper was revised, replacing the quad rectangular driving lamps with two rectangular and two round units. The brake cooling ducts were moved inboard of the driving lamps and changed to a straked design, while the rear ducts featured the vertical painted design seen on the SE30.
Lamborghini Diablo VT roadster (rear)
The engine lid was changed substantially in order to vent properly when the roof panel was covering it. The roadster also featured revised 17 inch wheels. The air intakes on top/sides were made larger than the Diablo coupé. For the 1998 Diablo SV, VT, and VT Roadster, the wheels were updated to 18 inches to accommodate bigger brakes, and the engine power raised to 530 hp (395 kW; 537 PS) by adding the variable valve timing system. Top speed was also raised to 335 km/h (208 mph).