After 17 years in production, the legendary Countach was replaced by the Diablo, which on its arrival was the fastest, most advanced and most expensive Lamborghini ever built. First exhibited publicly at Monaco in January 1990, the Diablo improved on its illustrious predecessor in every way, setting a new benchmark in supercar design. Nobody can have been surprised to learn that it had been styled by Marcello Gandini, the man responsible for the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, for the family resemblance was obvious.
Beneath the skin there was a steel spaceframe chassis, developed from the Countach’s, but constructed of square-section rather than round tubing and incorporating ‘crumple zones’ at front and rear. The use of carbon-fibre composite panels, first seen in the Countach Evoluzione model, was extended in the Diablo, which also featured revised suspension capable of accommodating the envisaged future developments of four-wheel drive and active suspension. Stretched to 5.7 litres for the Diablo, Lamborghini’s 48-valve V12 engine gained fuel injection for the first time, producing its maximum of 492bhp at 7,000rpm. Of equal, if not greater significance, maximum torque went up to 428lb/ft, an improvement of 55% over the Countach. Catalytic converters were standard, enabling the reworked V12 to meet emissions requirements worldwide.
With more power and a lower drag coefficient than the Countach, the Diablo easily eclipsed its forebear, exceeding 200mph (322km/h) on test. More importantly, its acceleration and top speed figures were marginally better than those of the Ferrari F40. The Diablo though, was not a limited edition model like the latter but a series production car with a luxuriously appointed interior reflecting its designers’ intention to produce a civilised Gran Turismo as suited to city streets and motorways as the racetrack.
Four-wheel drive Diablo VT and Targa-style open roadster versions soon followed and then came the Diablo SE (Special Edition) only 150 examples of which were built to celebrate Lamborghini’s 30 years as a car manufacturer. The Diablo SE was presented to the public in September 1993 at the 3rd Lamborghini day, held at the Sant’Agata factory, where 140 Lamborghinis from around the world had been assembled. The SE was more competition orientated than the standard Diablo and could be ordered with the optional Jota upgrade kit for actual GT racing. More powerful (525bhp) and around 10% lighter than the stock version, the SE was also marginally quicker, boasting a top speed of 305mph (331km/h). The redesigned interior’s dashboard came from the Diablo VT but the previously standard air conditioning and stereo system were dispensed with.
Carbon-fibre racing seats and four-point harnesses were installed, while roll stiffness could be adjusted from within the cockpit. Traction control came as standard on the SE, but there was no longer any power assistance for the steering and the VT’s electronically adjustable suspension had gone, deemed unnecessary on this purer sports car. Externally, the SE was readily distinguishable by virtue of its new nose, redesigned in pursuit of greater downforce, and a wider rear wing with adjustable centre flap. Deliveries commenced in June 1994 and the last of the 150 cars was delivered in November 1995. Each carried a numbered plaque beneath the left-side window.
This Diablo was originally supplied to Europe in 1994. Finished in the stunning and unusual shade of Jet Black metallic with a black interior, and having covered just 52,000 km from new this is an exceptionally good example of a sought after classic Lamborghini that is increasing in value.
VAT is payable on the hammer price of this vehicle unless exported outside the EU. View 1994 Lamborghini Diablo Coupe on www.coys.co.uk for further details.