This year, Lamborghini celebrates the 30th anniversary of one its most celebrated supercars, the mid-engine, V12-powered Diablo, which arrived in 1990 as the replacement for the Countach.
Now, that was a tough act to follow. The remarkable, groundbreaking Countach became everybody’s exotic dream car after it arrived to shock and acclaim in 1974, its sharp angles and broad planes created by the acclaimed designer Marcello Gandini of Carrozzeria Bertone.
Gandini already had set a new standard for exotic sports cars in the 1960s with the Lamborghini Miura, which put the mighty V12 engine behind its two seats for the first time in a modern production car.
For the Diablo, Lamborghini again turned to Gandini, who created a car with “clean and aggressive lines,” although it was toned down slightly by Chrysler, which at the time was majority shareholder of Automobili Lamborghini.
“Winning the hearts and appreciation of fans since day one, the Diablo was officially the fastest production car in the world at launch, capable of a top speed of 325 km/h (203.1 mph),” according to a Lamborghini news release. “Its impressive dynamic behavior was the result of intense development work involving the rally champion Sandro Munari.
“The Diablo sports the classic Lamborghini 12-cylinder setup, with a 5.7-liter engine, four overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, equipped with multi-point electronic injection capable of developing 485 hp and 580 Nm (428 pound-feet) of torque, in a rear longitudinal position.
“Despite being luxuriously finished, with leather interior, air conditioning, electric windows and electrically adjustable seats, the Diablo is still a hard and pure car with traction on the rear wheels only; no electronic driving aids or power steering were available until 1993.”
Over the years, there were nine separate Diablo models produced, including roadsters and 4-wheel-drive versions, and a restyling for 1999 by Luc Donckerwolke, Lamborghini’s first in-house designer, after the company was acquired by Audi, which owns it still.
“The Diablo, also launched in special series or for competition with 6-liter engines, was Lamborghini’s most-produced car to date, with 2,903 units in total,” the release notes. “It remained available until 2001, when it was succeeded by the Murciélago model.”