Happy 30th birthday, Diablo! See the Lamborghini super sports car through the years
It's been 30 years since the Hubble Telescope launched, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, and Tim Berners-Lee created the first web server, which created the foundation for the World Wide Web. In 1990, Automobili Lamborghini debuted the Diablo, but its story actually began give years earlier.
The year was 1985 and the Diablo was codenamed Project 132. Its aim was the replace the Countach at the top of the Lamborghini lineup. The Countach had been in the Lamborghini stable since 1974 and would end up sticking around until 1990.
Legendary car designer Marcello Gandini is responsible for the clean and aggressive lines of the body of the Diablo, just as he was responsible for the design of the Countach and Lamborghini Miura. Chrsyler's design center (Chrysler owned Lamborghini from 1987 to 1994) partially revised Gandini's plans.
Gandini was unimpressed with Chrysler's revisions. Two years before the Diablo went on sale, Gandini was able to realize his true design in the Cizeta-Moroder V16T.
When it launched, the Diablo was the fastest production car in the world. It was capable of achieving a top speed of 203.1 mph. The car could get from zero to 62 mpg in 4.5 seconds. Diablo's dynamics were developed in partnership with rally champion Sandro Munari.
The Countach successor took was offered in its predecessor to the next level, featuring many features and equipment that are commonplace on modern vehicles including adjustable seats and steering wheel, electric windows, a high-end stereo system, power steering, anti-lock brakes, and rear spoiler. Buyers could choose to add a remote CD changer.
The Diablo was powered by a 5.7-liter 12-cylinder engine that featured four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder. It had multi-point electronic injection that led it to be capable of developing 485 horsepower and 427 pound-feet of torque.
The first Lamborghini Granturismo with four-wheel drive was the Diablo VT. It launched in 1993 and brought with it a number of styling changes and mechanical innovations. Among the changes was the addition of a viscous center differential. It was that merchaincs that gave the car its name. "VT" stands for viscous traction. The Diablo VT featured new front air intakes below the headlights and larger intakes in the rear arches. The car's interior was revised to be more ergonomic.
In 1993, the special SE30 series was presented to commemorate Lamborghini's 30th anniversary. The model received a power increase to 523 horsepower. It had enough differences with the traditional Diablo to render it unique. There was a revised front fascia that included a deeper spoiler and the raging bull emblem was moved from the front lid to the nose panel. There was just one fog lamp and one backup light. The car also featured special magnesium alloy wheels and SE30 badging.
The Diablo SV debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1995. It was only available with two-wheel drive but it made 510 horsepower and had a adjustable rear wing. The car received black tail lamp surrounds, repositioned rear fog and reverse lamps, dual front fog lamps, and an extra set of front brake cooling ducts. Buyers could add SV decals to their model.
Later that year, the automaker brought the Diablo VT Roadster to market as Lamborghini's first 12-cylinder, open-roofed, mass-produced Lamborghini. The car was offered only with a four-wheel drive transmission.
The Diablo SVR was made for just one year, 1996, and was designed for racing. The Diablo GTR followed in a similar vein. The company sold just 32 of those models from 1999 to 2000. The GTR was a lightweight version of the Diablo that had the air conditioning, stereo system, soundproofing, and heatproofing removed. The former two-seater had a single race seat installed, compete with a six-point seatbelt harness. A roll cage, fixed Plexiglass windows, and new air intakes were among the other modifications.
In 1998, Lamborghini was sold to the Volkswagen Group who soon placed the brand under the control of its Audi arm, where it remains today. In 1999, a restyled Diablo SV was revealed after design revisions by Luc Donckerwolke, the company's first in-house designer. Donckerwolke is currently the Chief Creative Officer at Hyundai Motor Group.
With the revisions, the car became capable of achieving 529 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. For the first time, a Lamborghini came with an antilock braking system.
The Diablo 6.0 was a transitional model as the brand prepared to launch Diablo's successor, the Murciélago. It featured a revised front fascia that included two large air intakes, smoothed features and larger turns signals. The rear of the car remained mostly unchanged by taillight surrounds went from red or black to body-colored.
Lamborghini brought back elements of its past models, 18-inch OZ wheels were styled to look similar to a design that was on the Countach. Air conditioning and pedal alignments were improved.
Software updates and new intake and exhaust systems gave the car a power output of 549 horsepower and 457 pound-feet of torque. Lamborghini did not sell the Diablo VT 6.0 in anything but a coupe body style.
The Diablo was Lamborghini's most produced car to date with 2903 units in total whenn it was replaced by the Murciélago.
MUDETEC is Lamborghini's museum. It's no longer just a showcase of cars, but also an homage to the technology, from cars to production lines, that helped make Lamborghini the brand it is today, and in the future. The Museum of Technologies is located in Bologna, Italy.