Celebrating 30 Years of Legendary Lamborghini Diablo

The Italian “Devil” kept the nineties supercars at bay, although it was seen more often only on posters.

What events didn't happen in 1990… Opening the historical reference, you will be surprised to learn that the ruling labor party won the parliamentary elections in Australia for the fourth time, or, for example, you will be happy for North and South Yemen united into the single Republic of Yemen. At the same time, you probably won't learn from the sample about one of the main events of thirty years ago, which has always remained in our hearts. We are referring to the birth of the grandiose Lamborghini Diablo and to not the detention of the Panamanian General Noriega by representatives of the American administration, as many probably thought.

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In those old days, the gates of the factory in Sant'agata Bolognese were passed by “wild bulls” that were not distinguished by the refinement or conditional prevalence of modern models of the company. A “Lambo” was easier to see in a movie or on a poster than to meet it face to face, and therefore each appearance of these cars on the streets was a grand event.

Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo

The stunning fiery red Lamborghini Diablo, embodying primal rage, stopped car and pedestrian traffic within a radius of several hundred meters by its very sight and sound in the most literal sense.

Its great predecessor, the Countach, which came out from under the pencil of Marcello Gandini, was a dandy of the seventies and eighties — a wild Tony Montana with the collar of an unbuttoned shirt over a defiant jacket.

Lamborghini Countach LP500 Lamborghini Countach LP500

The Diablo was not a criminal macho with a white smile but a road shark, roaring through the traffic flow and looking at the world with tiny “eyes”.

“Project 132” was launched in June 1985, when Automobili Lamborghini SpA thinking about the successor of the Countach. On January 21, 1990, the result of engineering and design efforts, as well as an investment of about 6 billion Italian liras, was presented at a special event at the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo.

Lamborghini Diablo Protype P132 Lamborghini Diablo Protype P132

Choosing a name, the religious Italians did not choose the “dark side” but simply followed their traditions: they named the car after the powerful and aggressive fighting bull that fought the Matador El Chicorro in Madrid on July 11, 1869. The ominous name perfectly suited supercars already at the stage of the technical task, which prescribed to reach a top speed of at least 320 km/h.

The design was traditionally ordered from Marcello Gandini, and the maestro performed in his signature style: he created an intergalactic fighter, which was a deep rethinking of the Countach. But the Chrysler group, which bought Lamborghini in 1987, did not like this style.

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The Americans intervened in the work on the supercar and insisted on a serious design adjustment, and even involved their own designers. Against the background of the original samples, the final version seemed somewhat more mundane: sleek and less aggressive.

However, now, after many years, the conclusion about the correctness of the decision of the overseas bosses suggests itself — put the “Devil” next to the Cizeta Moroder V16T, which inherited a number of features of the original design, and the question of which car is more modern will disappear by itself. In particular, the production car did not get massive and deliberately rough air intakes: they were replaced by laconic elements, directing air to brake rotors and a V12 engine.

Cizeta Moroder V16T Cizeta Moroder V16T

The standard 5.7-liter unit produced 492 hp and 580 Nm. These days, this power is comparable to a power output of the old BMW M5 E60 or thoroughly upgraded Skoda Octavia RS. But thirty years ago, such specifications turned a driver into a pilot. A 0-100 km/h time of 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 325 km/h allowed participating in the premier league.

These are things of bygone days. The Diablo is respected to this day, and some of its options can surprise a “brand-oriented” audience. For example, its additional equipment included a 10,500-dollar Breguet watch.

Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo

As for its factory specifications, the Diablo was inferior to limited-edition supercars like the 550-hp Jaguar XJ220, but an experienced driver who realized the potential of the rear-wheel drive monster could win in a real fight. Of course, not every owner of a Lamborghini was such, so the all-wheel drive modification VT (Viscous Traction), which was born in 1993, came in very handy. The transmission of about 25% of the torque to the front axle wheels tamed the bull's temper at low starts and in bad weather and also made handling more neutral, reducing the oversteer of the rear-wheel drive coupe in extreme modes.

Lamborghini Diablo VT Lamborghini Diablo VT

The VT version differed in standard power steering, electronically controlled Koni shock absorbers and Brembo four-piston brake calipers (instead of two-piston ones), narrower 235/40 ZR 17 front tires. The interior featured a redesigned instrument panel.

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There were also innovations that were invisible to the eye. For example, the revision of the gas distribution system made it possible to make the engine quieter, and the modified layout of the air ducts improved the cooling of the unit.

Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Lamborghini Diablo SE30

In the same year, 1993, Lamborghini celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with an extreme track version of the Diablo SE30. An owner of the anniversary supercar languished because of the lack of air conditioning, speakers, power steering and even good side-view windows: ventilation was provided by small, non-aerodynamic sections in stationary plexiglass plugs.

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However, there was something else, for example, adjustable stabilizers of lateral stability and weightless carbon-fiber seats with four-point seat belts. Boosting the engine to 532 hp using a new fuel injection card, magnesium intake manifolds and exhaust tract with free “breathing”, coupled with a weight reduction of 125 kg, reduced a 0-100 km/h time to 4 seconds and increased a top speed up to 330 km/h.

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Electronically controlled shock absorbers, which were the prerogative of the VT version, are understandably absent, but there was a traction control system with a choice of the intervention degree, larger brakes and 18-inch OZ Racing wheels.

The uniqueness of the Special Edition released in 150 copies had not only these features — grazie, the sports division of Lamborghini Engineering SpA, for the actual Jota racing package!

Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Jota Lamborghini Diablo SE30 Jota

It included a different hood with two air intakes and such innovations that increase an output to 600 hp, for example a new ECU firmware and different camshafts.

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According to available data, 28 upgrade kits were produced in total, but 12-15 Jota packages left the factory directly, and the rest of the cars could be modified by official dealerships.

Lamborghini Diablo SV Lamborghini Diablo SV

In 1995, the evolution continued. First, the line was supplemented by the rear-wheel drive Diablo SV (Superveloce), the main features of which were a 517-hp engine and a wing with an adjustable central part, 18-inch wheels and more powerful brakes. Secondly, the all-wheel-drive VT had a roadster version.

Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster

Three years later, the company tore the cover off the updated Diablo. A striking feature that allows you to distinguish the rejuvenated “bull” from the pre-styling one was stationary headlights instead of lifting lamps. With them, the car looked more modern, not so sharp-featured and a little… scandalous.

Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster

The fact is that the headlights were borrowed directly from the Nissan Fairlady Z/300ZX (Z32). The name of the Japanese brand, stamped in the upper part of the headlights, had to be “disguised” with carbon fiber “cilia” for obvious reasons.

Nissan Fairlady Z/300ZX Nissan Fairlady Z/300ZX

It is interesting and funny that some head over heels in love with Diablo refuse to believe in the rough and not too pleasant truth up until these days. Well, this is not the first and not the worst example of using components from conventional mass production cars on an exotic vehicle: just remember the Aston Martin Virage with pain-inducing taillights from the Volkswagen Scirocco.

Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Interior Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Interior

The interior was completely redesigned: the architecture of the front panel was touched by the all-embracing tentacles of biodesign, although it did not reach the frankly vulgar roundness. The instrument panel spread out over the dashboard, enhancing the feel of the cockpit, and the control keys for additional functions were placed horizontally.

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In 1998, Lamborghini once again changed its owner, and it finally found stability under the shadow of the four Ingolstadt rings. Starting the development of the Murcielago, the factory for growing “fighting bulls” did not give up trying to breathe fresh energy into the graying Diablo. In particular, this was achieved thanks to the rear-wheel drive GT modification, which opened up a new sparkling facet of the Italian diamond to the world. This magnificent beast preferred the life on the racetrack to pathetic evening promenades along the boulevard and on motorways.

Lamborghini Diablo GT Lamborghini Diablo GT

It was distinguished from its counterparts in a modified front end, differently designed side air intakes and a diffuser instead of a rear bumper, in the center of which there were brazenly upturned exhaust pipes. The actual difference between the GT and another Diablo was much more significant than it might seem. Almost the entire body, with the exception of the steel roof and aluminum doors, was made of carbon fiber, so that the curb weight was reduced to 1,460 kg. Through a huge air intake, the 583-hp V12 swallowed air. It was not just a 5.0- or 4.0-liter engine but a 6.0-liter unit with a stroke increased up to 84 mm and individual throttle valves.

Lamborghini Diablo GT Lamborghini Diablo GT

Once inside, the driver immediately realized that he was not at the wheel of a very fast showstopper but captured by an evil racing car, ready to squeeze the bucket seats and arrange a tough test of driving skills. At its core, the Diablo GT is a shell for the few adepts of training on the circuit, who prefer the result on the stopwatch to the admiring glances of others. Indirect confirmation was the circulation of only 80 released cars.

Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0

Another iconic version in the restyled family was the passenger Diablo VT 6.0 with all-wheel drive. A slicked-up front end, a pair of upturned exhaust pipes in the center of the rear bumper and 18-inch wheels with five roundels, like that of the Countach, did not allow confusing this final version with previous modifications. At one time, such a blindingly fast “Devil”, armed with a 6.0-liter 558-hp engine, impressed Motor Trend’s representative with its simplicity and ease of operation. Understeering?

Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0

It is notable, but many Lamborghini customers with racing habits probably survived thanks to it. At the end of the test, the magazine reported acceleration to 97 km/h (60 mph) in 3.4 seconds and a quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds.

Lamborghini Diablo GTR Lamborghini Diablo GTR

Drivers who were hungry for more were forced to rush into motorsport, where they were able to find use for special racing versions. Among these, for example, was a unique, “stripped” 540-hp Diablo SV-R and a later modification of the GTR based on the above-mentioned GT with a 6.0-liter 598-hp V12 engine.

Lamborghini Diablo GTR Lamborghini Diablo GTR

Lamborghini has significantly expanded the model line since then, having released the vital Urus SUV and has impressed the world with the high efficiency of active aerodynamics, which allowed the not-so-powerful Huracan Performante to set a Nurburgring record.

Since the appearance of the Diablo, the brand has come a long way, made its cars much more refined and comfortable, preserving in each of them the spirit of the “fighting bulls” of the past. In 1990, the Diablo was the leading supercar of its time, and today its counterpart (or direct descendant) can be considered the Aventador SVJ. Such cars are still difficult to meet on the road. But the “junior” line-up of supercars is much more popular: the Gallardo, the Huracan and the latest Huracan Evo can easily be found in the center of Paris or Miami.

Lamborghini Huracan Evo Lamborghini Huracan Evo

Thirty years after the premiere of the Diablo, the mid-engine, AWD Huracan Evo (there is a naturally aspirated V10 behind the seats) accelerates to 100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and reaches 325 km/h. At the same time, even an ordinary driver can cope with it — smart four-wheel drive and modern security systems make the supercar expensive and furious but not a dangerous toy. If you really want to, you can drive the Huracan Evo every day: the steering rear axle makes it easier to maneuver, and the front hydraulic lift allows you to overcome too arrogant roughness.

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To have such a “little devil”, you will have to fork out a large sum of money: additional equipment is expensive, but you will definitely want to order it. What do you get with such huge amount of money? A stunning fast supercar with an outrageous and futuristic design. That is why we love Lamborghini so much. This is also a little dream depicted on a poster from childhood. After all, each predatory, whizzing past silhouette of a Lamborghini has something from the Diablo...

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