Despite being a devil in disguise (well, in Spanish then) it wasn’t necessary to sell one’s soul to get a Lambo Diablo — just greeting the model launch in 1990 with a briefcase containing around $250,000 would do the trick. This wide, low-slung wedge with its characteristic grooved skirt and rounded air scoops in front of the back wheels was Lamborghini’s long-awaited replacement for the Countach.
The mid-engined Diablo had been under development since 1995, and was worth waiting for. This was no poseur’s car, but an out-and-out performance model with a 48-valve 5.7 litre Lamborghini V12 with dual overhead cams and computer-controlled fuel injection. The brutish 492 bhp thus generated fed the rear wheels.
There was initially no choice of body style, as all Diablos were two-door coupes.
But interesting advances were afoot. After three years of tweaking the basic model a VT (for Viscous Traction) Diablo coupe appeared in 1993, followed by an open targa-topped version in 1995. Power was fed through a manual gearbox and four-wheel drive system to massive road wheels and fat tyres at each corner, making for adhesive roadholding, rapid acceleration and breathtaking top speed. The VT was uprated to a Version 2 in 1997, but when new owner Audi took over in 1998 the Diablo was given a 6 litre engine and major facelift even as a successor, the Murcielago, was developed.
There were various special editions in the Diablo’s lifetime. The Diablo SE (1994-95 Special Edition) celebrated the company’s 30th birthday. This hard-edged speedster could be further upgraded with the Jota package. The Diablo SV (Sport Veloce) lacked all-wheel drive. The Diablo SVR was a racing version created for a single-car pro-am series known as the Diablo Supertrophy. A few of these cars were subsequently modified for road use, reminding everyone of the Diablo’s performance pedigree.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1990 (until 2001)
5,707 cc or 5,992 cc V12
With 5.7 I engine – top speed of 203 mph (326 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.9 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Diablos were very much driver’s cars, not noted for an excessively luxurious interior finish, but those who always liked to keep track of time as they sped along the highway were able to order an optional dashboard clock by prestigious Swiss maker Breguet – that’ll be another $10,500 please.