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CATEGORIES (articles) > Cars we emulate > Lamborghini > Lamborghini Diablo History

Lamborghini Diablo History

Lamborghini Diablo
Manufacturer: Lamborghini
Production: 1990–2001
2,903 produced
Predecessor: Lamborghini Countach
Successor: Lamborghini Murcielago
Class: Supercar
Body style: 2-door coupé
Similar: Porsche 911 Turbo (Type 964)
Porsche 911 Turbo (Type 993)
Ferrari F348
Ferrari F355
Ferrari Testarossa
Lotus Esprit

The Lamborghini Diablo ("devil" in Spanish) was a high-performance supercar built by Lamborghini of Italy between 1990 and 2001.

Diablo, 1990-1998

Lamborghini began developing the Diablo in 1989 as a replacement for the Countach model, introducing it for sale on January 21, 1991 at a base price of USD $240,000. Power came from a 5.7 litre, 48 valve version of the legendary Lamborghini V12 featuring dual overhead cams and computer-controlled multi-point fuel injection, producing 492 horsepower (367 kW) and 427 foot-pounds (579 N·m) of torque. The vehicle could reach 60 mph in slightly over 4 seconds, with a top speed of 202 miles per hour (325 km/h). As in the Countach, the Diablo was rear wheel drive and the engine was mid-mounted to aid its weight balance.

Even at over $200,000, the vehicle was somewhat spartan, featuring only basic radio functions (with optional CD playback) along with manual windows, adjustable but unpowered seats and no antilock brakes, mostly to minimize the vehicle's already high curb weight. A few options were available, including having the driver's seat molded specifically for the buyer, a rear wing spoiler, a factory fitted luggage set (priced at $2,600) and an exclusive Breguet clock for the dash (priced at $10,500).

Diablo VT (Ver. 1), 1993-1998 and Diablo VT Roadster (Ver. 1), 1995-1998

After three years of making minor adjustments to the standard Diablo, Lamborghini decided in 1993 that a second even more specialized version of the car could add new customers to the brand. Starting with the basic Diablo platform, Lamborghini engineers added a viscous-coupling type all-wheel-drive system, an improved power steering system, resized front wheels and tires chosen to work better with the all-wheel-drive system, four-piston Brembo brake calipers, an updated dashboard design and a new computerized suspension system featuring aggressively tuned Koni shock absorbers. The suspension system could be left in "auto" mode where it was controlled entirely by the computer, or any of four separate "modes" could be manually selected by the driver via buttons in the cabin. The vehicle still lacked ABS brakes.

Lamborghini had presented an open-topped concept version of the VT (Viscous Traction) at the 1992 Geneva Auto Show alongside the coupe when the car debuted there, but it was another 3 years before the model saw production. Other than its removable Targa-style carbon fiber roof panel, the vehicle was essentially identical to the coupe, with only a few minor styling differences, mainly in regards to the tail lights between the two models.

Diablo SE 30, 1993

A lightened, hard-edged racing variant of the standard Diablo, the SE 30 was sold in limited numbers during 1993 to celebrate Lamborghini's 30th anniversary. The car went without most of the Diablo's standard equipment, meaning that it was devoid of a radio, air-conditioning or sound deadening and featured carbonfibre molded seats, helping to make it 125 kilograms lighter than the standard car. Lamborghini choose to do without the VT's advanced electronic suspension or all-wheel-drive systems, but the car did get an advanced adjustment system controlled with an interior knob that could instantaneously adjust the stiffness of the car's front and rear antiroll bars. They also enlarged the discs of all four wheels, but the car still lacked ABS.

Diablo SV (Ver. 1), 1995-1998

The SV or "Sport Veloce" variant of the Diablo was an optional add-on package to the base car. It lacked the VT's all-wheel-drive system and electronic suspension, but it featured the VT's revised dashboard and larger brakes, a new 3-piece adjustable spoiler and was powered by a modified version of the 5.7 litre V12 producing 510 horsepower (380 kW). The car's air intakes were slightly differently shaped, and from 1999 onwards the vehicle had exposed headlamps as opposed to the pop-up units previous versions used.

Tuning company Auto König of Germany produced a tuned variant of the SV featuring further suspension modifications, massive brakes and a twin-turbocharger system, boosting the car's output to over 800 horsepower (597 kW).

Diablo VT (Ver. 2), 1999 and Diablo VT Roadster (Ver. 2), 1999

The second version of the VT coupe and roadster were mainly a styling update. The cars now featured the SV's exposed headlamps, new wheels and a newly redesigned dashboard. On the mechanical side, larger brakes, the long-overdue addition of ABS brakes and a new variable valve timing system on the 5.7 litre V12 were the only updates. Power output increased to 530 horsepower (395 kW), dropping the car's 0-60 time to slightly below 4 seconds. Despite the money Lamborghini had spent making the updates, the "Version 2" VTs were discontinued after only one year of production.

Diablo SV (Ver. 2), 1999

Just like the updated versions of the VT coupe and roadster, the 1999 model year SV's changes were primarily limited to cosmetics. It received slight bodywork updates (keeping the exposed headlamps), new wheels and larger brakes in addition to the new VVT equipped, 530 horsepower (395 kW) motor. Otherwise it was mainly the same car. Like the updated VT, it was produced only as a 1999 model.

Diablo GT, 1999

Diablo GT

As much as the SV (Sport Veloce) was already a near race-ready version of the Diablo, the limited run GT model went even further. A modified version of the V12 engine, bored out to 6.0 litres and producing 575 horsepower (430 kW) powered the vehicle, while enlarged brakes, an improved and lower riding suspension and owner-specific gearing that was customized by the factory were other mechanical changes. More aggressive bodywork with flared fenders and wider wheels were introduced. Only 80 units were produced in total and the vehicle was sold officially only in Europe.

The 1999 Diablo GT was dubbed the fastest production car in the world; its newer design and engine (which ultimately influenced the restyling changes for the 6.0 Diablo) were the most technically advanced of any Diablo yet:

  • new Lamborghini V12, 6 litre engine
  • new design of the body
  • wider front track
  • improved chassis and suspension
  • reduced weight

Diablo VT 6.0 (Diablo VT Ver. 3), 2000-2001

After Audi AG took over Lamborghini from Chrysler Corporation in the mid-1990s they set out to make major revisions to the Diablo so that it could continue to provide revenue while its replacement was developed. The VT 6.0 was their first (and last) truly intensive redesign of the car, meaning that it was more than just a cosmetic update to the existing model. Heavy styling changes both inside and out were made; the front bumper, air intakes and nose as well as the entire dashboard, seats and switchgear were redone. Displacing 6.0 litres and based on the motor that powered the Diablo GT, which in itself was essentially a stroked version of the 5.7, the motor had updated 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.

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