The Lamborghini Diablo was launched
in 1990 as successor to the legendary Countach. It
was developed under the investment from Chrysler which
bought Lamborghini in 1987. With more money, no wonder
the Diablo was better developed than any other previous
Eventually, it survived for 11 years and
2884 cars were built, breaking the record held by Countach.
The name Diablo means "Devil" (in
Spanish, not Italian).
Like the Countach and most other Lamborghinis, it was designed
by Italian styling master Marcello Gandini, and it is no wonder
the car had a strong resemblance to its predecessor, such
as slant front end, steeply raked windscreen and scissors
However, the final design was refined by Chrysler's studio
in the USA, where they smoothed all the sharp edges and corners, making for not only improved
cooling, but even better aerodynamics. In the end, it was changed so
much that Gandini was understandably a little miffed.
As a revenge to Chrysler
and Lamborghini, he simply adapted his original design
and offered up the Cizeta Moroder V16T. However, it is undeniable
that the Chrysler-refined Diablo was more beautiful and
more enduring than the Cizeta.
It looked pure yet aggressive, futuristic yet mature.
Chrysler designers' attention to detail complemented
what Gandini himself was famous for. Best of all, the Diablo felt truly exotic, which was exactly what contemporary
supercars of the early 1990's lacked. Sure, the McLaren F1 and Jaguar XJ220
looked sexy, but purists argued they were still not "exotic".
was different. Its styling meant velocity, acceleration
and power. Even when at a standstill, its appearance told
you it was a 200mph supercar, or perhaps 250mph (if you could find a suitable road).
When the Countach was launched in the early 70s, its
spaceframe chassis, aluminum body and transmission
layout were very advanced. Then through the 1980's the concept matured, with such iterations as the
Porsche 959, Ferrari GTO and F40. Light-weight construction was certainly in vogue, as were the use of twin-turbo
engines and space-age carbon-fiber materials.
the Diablo maintained much of the "yester-year" technology as found on the Countach,
without any significant changes. The chassis, body
and the big V12 were more evolution than revolution.
And unsurprisingly, it gained more length, width and
wheelbase as well as a touch more (desperately needed)
cabin space. As a result, a standard Diablo tipped
the scale at more than 1600kg, about 130kg heavier
than the last Countach.
Straight-line performance was never a problem to the
Diablo, the 5.7 liter V12 producing close to
500 horsepower. It recorded a 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds, and boasted a top speed of 202 mph - the wild claim of early
Countach was finally fulfilled by its successor. At
the time of writing, the Diablo still holds the record
of being the fastest production car.
Of course, some
limited production supercars did record higher speeds.
The V12 was always the jewel of the crown. Powerful,
sharp throttle response aside, it impressed most with
its thundering roar that would set the heart racing. Louder and rawer than
Ferrari's V12, the Lamborghini engine noise was hardly
The Lamborghini Diablo's Achilles Heel
The achilles heel frot the Diablo was in the handling department. The philosophy used during the Diablo's design, being that a supercar should be both big and powerful, was somewhat outdated. That design concept made the Diablo too heavy, too wide and too bulky
to handle anywhere near what was needed when punting it at the limit. Although its supercar tires produced massive
grip while its extra track aided cornering stability,
it never felt as agile as the "smaller" supercars, let alone the Porsche 911 Turbo.
Poor visibility, both front and rear,
also limited driving confidence. Unless you found yourself on a smooth and
wide racing track, the Diablo could hardly keep up
with a 911 Turbo, and when you consider the 911 was half the price, it's pretty amazing that anyone actually purchased the Diablo. And did we mention the brakes?, too small to handle
its weight effectively, they were yet another disappointment.
A Gradual Evolution
During its 11-year life, the Diablo evolved gradually. The SV from 1995 to 1999 was perhaps
the best Diablo, thanks to the diet it underwent.
The GT of 2000 was even developed into a respectable
racing machine, pushing performance to the peak. Because
of the emergence of many super-expensive supercars
in the early 90s, such as Bugatti EB110, Jaguar XJ220,
McLaren F1 and Ferrari F50, the Diablo was almost
forgotten. Being slower, heavier, cheaper and less
exclusive, the Diablo failed to recapture the fame
of Countach, a car that had been regarded as the world's top supercar
for many years.
Admittedly, the Diablo was the only product of Lamborghini,
so it had to be relatively cheap to build in order
to sell 300 to 400 cars annually, in contrast to the
aforementioned one-off exclusive. This relegated it
to the "second division" supercar
club, whose members left only the last breed of boxer
Ferrari, that was, 512TR / F512M. Undoubtedly, the
Lamborghini was always rated as the best one of its
kind. Since the death of the F512M, the Diablo became the
only mid-engined production supercar in the world.
Then people could only compare it with the front-engined
GTs such as 550 Maranello and Aston Vantage. Diablo's
production dropped gradually despite of a revision
every 1 or 2 years. Perhaps people became more concern
about drivability and comfort, perhaps the old Diablo
could no longer get people excited, it had to retire
in 2001. However, we will always remember the best
things of Diablo: the exotic appearance and the thundering