Plenty of enthusiasts (including us) have had a dream car since we were young. Perhaps it was a poster that was up on your bedroom wall, a silhouette that you recall seeing in traffic, or one that you drove in a video game. It becomes an obsession, and when fulfilled, whether to see one or be able to get behind the wheel could be euphoric. The Diablo is one such car.
Carrying on the tradition, the Diablo is named after a ferocious bull raised by the Duke of Veragua and fought a famous battle against "El Chicorro" ( A well-known matador from the late 19th century) in Madrid, Spain.
"The Devil" began development as Project 132 in 1985, a prototype concept that would showcase a modernized Countach, Lamborghini's current high-performance sports car at the time. The Mimran brothers owned the brand during this period after they were given receivership for a princely sum. The brand had fallen on hard times after Ferruccio sold most of his beloved brand's shares and eventually faded into bankruptcy, which is where the Mimrans' picked up from. Marcello Gandini, who previously had worked for the Bertone styling house, designed the new prototype after penning the previous Countach and Miura predecessors. In 1987, Lee Iacocca spearheaded the Chrysler Corporation umbrella's acquisition of Lamborghini, as they were interested in entering the new market of premium sports cars. The brand injected new cash flow into making the Diablo vision a reality. However, the board of directors was not happy with Gandini's penwork. Chrysler forwarded the design to Tom Gale, later known as the man who designed the Dodge Stealth, Viper, and Plymouth Prowler. Gale smoothed out the hard edges and lines from the previous styling exercise and created what we know as El Diablo.
The wedge shape that made Gandini's previous designs famous was still present, with the front trunk and windshield creating a single sharp wedge, only to be broken up by the headlights when in their upright position. When viewed from the front, the width of the Diablo is astronomical. The front bumper is non-obtrusive, and houses turn signals, driving and fog lights. Our featured VT Roadster uses circular fogs instead of the previous rectangular ones and includes straked brake cooling ducts.
The sports car's side is characterized by its wide door mirrors and series of vents required for braking and engine cooling duties. The carbon-fiber roof panel looks almost comically narrower than the rest of the car. Purposefully, this was done so occupants could swing open the scissor doors and enter or exit the coupe without bumping their heads. Being a roadster means that the panel is also removable; this is done by unlatching it at each corner and manually lifting it. The panel has fixed points that sit on top of the engine cover with an electronic locking system holding it in place. At the rear, the extensive hips wrap around to a finned tail panel that houses a set of circular taillights, and a sharp rear bumper down below covers the four exhaust pipes that emit the growl of the Bizzarini V12.
Under the aluminum engine cover resided a 5.7-litre version of Lamborghini's famed all-aluminum V12. Still sporting dual overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder, and the firing order inscribed on the engine cover carried over from the previous Countach but having the addition of sequential electronic fuel injection, the raging bull now developed 485hp and 428lb/ft of torque. Other unique features include dry-sump lubrication and a slight bump in compression to 10.0:1 from its older brother.
The big twelve-cylinder is mounted longitudinally with the transmission case behind it. Putting all of that power down is a 5-speed manual transaxle produced in collaboration with ZF through a conventional single-plate clutch. It has a limited-slip differential incorporated for the rear wheels. The roadster was only available as a VT, an acronym for Viscous Traction, meaning it has an all-wheel drive. The front differential receives power to it by a viscous coupling on the transaxle. When slippage at the rear wheels was detected, up to 25% of the power available could be directed to the front to aid in traction.
With all of that grunt, the Diablo is capable of 0-100km/h (62mph) in 4.1 seconds, can travel through the quarter-mile in 12.3 seconds, and has a final top speed of 328km/h (204mph) with the roof fixed or removed. Other astounding figures show the true capabilities of the Diablo, being able to complete the standing kilometer in a hair under 21 seconds and having a top speed of 106km/h (66mph) in reverse.
The supercar's performance wasn't just due to its powertrain; the chassis and suspension needed to deliver that power to be a genuine performance car effectively. The chassis is composed of high strength steel rectangular tubing arranged with aluminum alloy sheeting for the body to graft with. The suspension is independent at all four corners and is mounted to the chassis by unequal length double-wishbone control arms that feature anti-dive and anti-squat geometry. Active struts were employed all around, and the suspension had four different dampening settings that could be adjusted by the driver in the center console or kept in auto mode to let the car figure it out. The front suspension also incorporated a hydraulic lift system capable of raising the front axle by two inches to help clear driveways, speed bumps, or other obstacles that would prove detrimental to the front bumper.
Being able to accelerate well meant the Diablo also needed to stop with urgency as well. Brembo was employed to provide some serious stopping power in the form of four-piston monobloc calipers all around with 330mm discs in the front and 310mm discs in the rear.
Further helping with stopping was an anti-lock braking system. The braking package was framed by a set of 3-piece OZ Racing aluminum wheels available in a polished finish only for the roadster, measuring 17x8.5 in the front and a staggering 17x13 rear. They were wrapped in 235 wide and 335 wide Pirelli P Zero performance tires.
The Diablo became an icon of the 90s. We remember having a Diablo on our wall when we were younger, dreaming of the day we may see one on the street. Did the Italian Devil cloud your dreams too?