The Lamborghini Diablo is a high-performance mid-engined sports car that was built by Italian automaker Lamborghini between 1990 and 2001. It was the first Lamborghini capable of attaining a top speed in excess of 200 miles per hour (320 km/h). After the end of its production run in 2001, the Diablo was replaced by the Lamborghini Murciélago. Diablo is "devil" in Spanish, which is diavolo in Italian.
History of developmentEdit
At a time when the company was financed by the Swiss-based Mimram brothers, Lamborghini began development of what was codenamed Project 132 in June 1985 as a replacement for the Countach model. The brief stated that its top speed 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 bought the company in 1987, providing money to complete its 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 trademark 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 realize his original design in the Cizeta-Moroder V16T.
The car became known as the Diablo, carrying on Lamborghini's tradition of naming its cars after breeds of fighting bull. 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 July 11, 1869. In the words of Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson, the Diablo was designed "solely to be the biggest head-turner in the world." The project is believed to have cost a total of 6,000,000,000 lira.
The Diablo was presented to the public for sale on January 21, 1990. Power came from a 5.7 L (348 cu in), 48-valve version of the existing Lamborghini V12 featuring dual overhead cams and computer-controlled multi-point fuel injection, producing a maximum output of 499 PS (367 kW; 492 hp) and 580 N·m (428 lb·ft) of torque. The vehicle could reach 100 km/h (62 mph) in about 4.5 seconds, with a top speed of 202 mph (325 km/h). 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 had; standard features included fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, electric windows, an Alpine stereo system, and power steering. 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).
The Diablo was the fastest production car in the world for the 1991 model year, having a top speed of 333 km/h (207 mph), which exceeded the 324 km/h (201 mph) of the previous title-holder, the Ferrari F40. The Diablo held the title until the release of the Bugatti EB110 in 1991, which claimed a top speed of 343 km/h (213 mph).
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 remodified 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.
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 a revised dashboard, 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 JotaEdit
The Diablo SE30 was introduced in 1994 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 healthy boost to 530 PS (390 kW; 523 hp) by means of a tuned fuel system, freer-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 it was equipped with adjustable-stiffness anti-roll bars which could be controlled from the interior, on the fly.
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, the Jota kit produced nearly 603 PS (444 kW; 595 hp) and 639 N·m (471 lb·ft) of torque. An open exhaust system produced deafening engine roar, one of the main contributing factors to the Jota's track-only status, although some owners converted back to standard exhaust in order to enjoy their "super Diablo" on the road. 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.
The Diablo SV was introduced in 1995 at the Geneva Auto Show, reviving the super veloce title first used on the Miura SV. The SV was based on the standard Diablo and thus lacked the four-wheel drive of the VT. A notable feature of the SV was an increase in horsepower to 517 PS (380 kW; 510 hp), which, paired with the two-wheel drive layout, could increase the likelihood of loss of traction during hard driving. Interestingly, 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 fiber. Other exterior changes included black tail lamp surrounds, repositioned rear fog and reverse lamps as on the SE30, dual front foglamps (rather than the quad style found on all previous models), an extra set of front brake cooling ducts, a ducted 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 Diablo SV's 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 colors. 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. The Monterey Edition was foreseen to be a collectible, but due to the popularity of the fixed-lamp models to follow (see below), its value did not rise significantly over time.
Diablo VT RoadsterEdit
The Diablo VT Roadster was introduced in 1995 and featured an electrically operated carbon fiber 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. 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.
Diablo SV (1999)Edit
Lamborghini launched a facelifted Diablo in 1999, simplifying the model range by eliminating the "base" Diablo (since the SV model had become the new entry-level trim anyway) and applying universal revisions across the lineup. The most immediately noticeable exterior change was the replacement of the previous Diablo's pop-up headlamp units with fixed composite lenses, borrowed under license from their original application in the Nissan 300ZX Z32. All Diablos were also fitted with new 18 inch wheels.
The Diablo range also received an updated interior. Instead of the traditional flat dashboard with a separate upright instrument binnacle, as in many Italian sports cars of the era (and the previous Diablo), the new dash was an integrated wave-shaped design. A thin strip of black glass ran the length of the dash and contained various instrument indicator and warning lamps. This aesthetic design was inspired by Bang & Olufsen Hi-Fi products.
Under the engine lid, the tried-and-true V12 was bumped to 536 PS (394 kW; 529 hp) and 605 N·m (446 lb·ft) of torque for both the SV and VT models and now featured variable valve timing. For the first time ever in a Lamborghini, the Diablo was equipped with a Kelsey-Hayes ABS unit, complementing larger diameter brake rotors.
Diablo VT and VT Roadster (1999)Edit
The second generation VT coupé and roadster received the same cosmetic and mechanical upgrades as the SV model, including the open headlamps, restyled interior, 536 PS (394 kW; 529 hp) engine, and ABS; little else was changed from the previous generation. All US-spec VT models, coupé and roadster alike, shared the same unique front and rear fascias as seen on the original VT Roadster, along with the vertical painted rear brake ducts that had debuted on the SE30 model; these cosmetic variations were available as options on rest-of-world VT coupés. A special run of twelve Diablo VT's was produced exclusively for the United States market in 1999 and called the Alpine Edition. As the Diablo had been utilizing Alpine stereo equipment since its inception, this very limited production was intended to showcase and celebrate the Lamborghini/Alpine connection. The Alpine Edition was a fairly standard Diablo VT with no engine modifications and some extra bits of carbon fiber trim in various locations, but the big news was the multimedia system. The stereo receiver was the top-end CVA-1005 model, with integrated navigation system; also included in the package was a DVD player, 6-disc CD changer, and Alpine's top quality tweeters, midrange drivers, and subwoofers, powered by "Lamborghini" badged Alpine amplifiers. Alpine logos adorned the seat headrests, floormats, and the special car cover included with this rare model.
Another special twelve-car run of Diablos for the US market consisted of VT Roadsters and was called the Momo Edition. Like the Alpine Edition, the Momo Edition catered to the US car buyer's interest in aftermarket upgrade products. Lamborghini, rather than spending money to develop certain automotive components, had been using aftermarket suppliers such as Alpine and MOMO to outfit the Diablo. The Momo Edition was again a fairly standard VT Roadster, but featured special upholstery, MOMO 4-point seatbelt harnesses, and MOMO chromed wheels. Like the Alpine Edition, the Momo Edition also had MOMO logos embroidered in the seat headrests and floor mats.
The VT Roadster enjoyed one final limited run of 30 cars for the 2000 model year, after the introduction of the Diablo VT 6.0 (see below). This "Millennium Roadster" model was available in just two colors, Titanium Metallic and yellow, with the 10 cars exported to the United States all finished in Titanium Metallic. Besides an optional carbon fiber spoiler, special two-tone leather interior, and the shorter-ratio SV rear differential (providing enhanced acceleration), this model featured no significant changes from the previous design, and merely served as a final tribute to the outgoing roadster.
The Diablo SE30 and its optional Jota upgrade kit had been quite sporty and race-oriented, but Lamborghini took this concept a step further in 1999 with its introduction of the very limited production Diablo GT, of which only 80 examples were produced for sale. The Diablo GT was a completely race-oriented model differing in nearly every aspect from the more mainstream Diablos. The cars were fitted with radically altered aggressive bodywork, a stripped-down interior, and an enlarged engine. With the exclusivity came a large price tag of nearly $300,000 and availability limited to Europe. Some GT models were imported into the US and a few may have been converted to road-legal US specification. The Diablo GT was noticeably different on the exterior. While previous Diablo models had differed one from another with subtle fascia refinements or changes in the brake cooling ducts, the Diablo GT opted for an all new black carbon fiber front air dam with large brake ducts and a central vent for the oil cooler (the car still featured driving lamps, the single pair of round units featured on the Diablo VT Roadster). In the front luggage compartment lid, a large air extractor was added, while the small corner vents on the front fenders were changed to NACA style ducts. The fenders themselves were widened to accommodate a wider front track. In the rear, the bumper and its lamps were removed entirely, replaced by a carbon fiber diffuser that forced the fog and backup lamps into the outer pair of tail lamps, and shielded a pair of large center-mounted exhaust pipes. The engine lid featured a large central ram air duct protruding above the roof; a rear spoiler was standard equipment. This radical new body was composed mostly of carbon fiber, with the steel roof and aluminum doors being the only components to retain their standard material. Special 3-piece OZ wheels finished the GT's exterior package.
On the inside, the Diablo GT featured more prominent carbon fiber panels, race-spec bucket seats with 4-point seatbelt harnesses, a smaller steering wheel, and an optional Alpine LCD screen for GPS navigation and a bumper mounted backup camera. Despite the racing pretenses of the vehicle, air conditioning was still installed as standard equipment; airbags could be optionally omitted.
While previous Diablos had tuned and tweaked the 5.7 L (348 cu in) engine with various ignition and fuel system upgrades, the Diablo GT opted for a larger-displacement alternative. While the basic V12 block remained the same, the engine was stroked from 80 mm (3.1 in) to 84 mm (3.3 in) for a new displacement of 6.0 L (366 cu in); this engine, which would later be used in the revised Diablo VT 6.0, produced (in GT trim) 583 PS (429 kW; 575 hp) and 630 N·m (465 lb·ft) of torque. The transmission was the same 5-speed used in other Diablos, but different gear ratios could be specified by the race-oriented buyer. Rear-wheel drive was used to save weight, as usual.
Diablo VT 6.0 and VT 6.0 SEEdit
After Audi AG took over Lamborghini from its former Southeast Asian owners, MyCom and V'Power, in 1998, they set out to modernize and refine the Diablo, while its replacement, the Murciélago, was developed. Audi tasked Luc Donckerwolke with designing a more refined, civilized, modern Diablo. The VT 6.0, released for sale for the 2000 model year, was the result of that design and featured significant styling changes both inside and out.
Externally, the Diablo VT 6.0 differed from its predecessors with a revised front fascia that featured two large air intakes (similar to those later used on the Murciélago). The air dam, nose panel, and fenders were all reworked and smoothed, the indicators were enlarged and shifted in position, and the small air inlets in the tops of the fenders were deleted. The rear of the car remained familiar, but the taillight surrounds were now body-colored (rather than transparent red or black) and the lamps themselves used the configuration seen on the limited Diablo GT. Unlike previous Diablos, which had almost all used 3-piece alloy wheels, the VT 6.0 rested on monobloc cast aluminum 18 inch OZ rims, which were styled with a 5-hole "phone dial" design similar to that seen on the later models of the Countach. On the inside, the interior was further refined in typical German fashion; the new-styled dash introduced on the 1999 Diablo range was retained, but a prominent carbon fiber center console was fitted, the air conditioning was improved, and the seat and pedal alignment was revised.
The VT 6.0, as per its name, also featured the new 6.0 L (370 cu in) V12 introduced in the Diablo GT (a stroker version of the traditional Diablo 5.7 liter V12). The motor had updated ECU software in addition to new intake and exhaust systems and a refined variable valve timing system with slightly less aggressive camshafts than had been used in the earlier versions. This powerplant produced 583 PS (429 kW; 575 hp) and 620 N·m (457 lb·ft) of torque, more than any prior standard Diablo.
Because of the preparations being made for the upcoming Murciélago, the Diablo VT coupé was the only available variant, with no more roadster or SV models planned; however, customers could specially order a rear-wheel drive version of the VT 6.0 if they so desired. Due to the influx of financial resources and engineering expertise from Audi, the Diablo 6.0 VT had superior build quality to the prior model years, making the 6.0 VT the most practical of all the Diablos.
Before the Diablo was retired, Lamborghini produced a limited 2001 model year 42-car production run of a special edition Diablo VT 6.0 SE, this powerplant produced 557 PS (410 kW; 549 hp). This model was only available in two colors; the gold metallic "Oro Elios" represented sunrise, while the color-shifting bronze/maroon "Marrone Eklipsis" represented sunset. Little else changed, save for a new magnesium intake manifold, special upholstery treatment, "Lamborghini" badged brake calipers, comprehensive road map software in the navigation system, and enhanced carbon fiber trim.