The Lamborghini Diablo turned 30 years old this year. To celebrate the momentous occasion, Lamborghini is taking us on a trip down memory lane of one of the most iconic poster car ever.
Despite calling it the 30-year anniversary, the Lamborghini Diablo’s story actually began in 1985, five years before its market launch. Codenamed Project 132, the then-unnamed Countach replacement was designed by Marcello Gandini, and was later partially revised by – weirdly enough – Chrysler’s design centre; The American carmaker had become the majority shareholder in Lamborghini at that time.
Lamborghini says that the Diablo has won over the hearts and appreciation of fans since day one, and it’s not hard to see why. With a top speed of 325 km/h, the Lamborghini Diablo became the fastest production car in the world at launch.
The Diablo is powered by the classic Lamborghini 5.7-litre V12 engine, sporting four overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and multi-point electronic fuel injection. The powertrain – tuned by rally champion Sandro Munari – made 492 hp and 580 Nm of torque, with all of it sent to the rear wheels only.
No electronic driving aids or power steering were available on the car at launch; we can’t imagine how it would’ve felt driving this thing full blast all the way up to 325 km/h. It is however luxuriously finished with leather interior, air conditioning, electric windows, as well as powered seats, perhaps making you feel a little more comfortable on the off chance you’ve made a horrific mistake resulting in a crash…
Three years later in 1993, Lamborghini introduced the Diablo VT, finally equipped with the probably-much-welcomed driving aids, alongside all-wheel drive, several mechanical improvements, and styling changes – all of which eventually made its way onto the two-wheel drive model.
In the same year, Lamborghini also unveiled the SE30 in celebration of the company’s 30-year anniversary. The SE30 bumped the power output to 530 hp. The Diablo SV, unveiled at the 1995 Geneva motor show however, dropped the power output back down to 517 hp, and was only available as a rear-wheel drive model.
December of 1995 also saw the introduction of the Diablo VT Roadster – Lamborghini’s first 12-cylinder mass-produced convertible. The VT Roadster was available only with all-wheel drive, and in order to accommodate the electronically-operated carbon-fibre targa top, Lamborghini had to significantly alter the styling of the Diablo.
The year 1998 saw the purchase of Lamborghini by the Audi Group, and a year later, the updated Diablo SV was unveiled, with a more modern styling inside out designed by none other than Luc Donckerwolke. The most notable change was the removal of the pop-up headlights, replaced by a fixed composite lens that – fun fact – was borrowed from the Nissan 300ZX.
As for the greasy beats, power from the engine was boosted up to 536 hp and 605 Nm, thanks to the new variable valve lift system. For the first time ever on a Lamborghini, the brakes was also equipped with ABS.
Following the updated Diablo SV, Lamborghini also introduced a couple of 6.0-litre V12-powered variants, though these were limited to special series or for competition usage only.
The Diablo nameplate was finally retired in 2001, where it was succeeded by the Mucierlago. Throughout its life time, Lamborghini made a total of 2,903 Diablos from its Sant’Agata Bolognese plant, and while it may not be the most-produced Lamborghini any more, the Diablo still remains as one of the most cherished Lamborghini models in many purists’ hearts.
Another fun fact: Diablo means devil in Italian, so it wouldn’t be amiss if we said, “Happy Birthday, you devil.”