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Sleeping Beauty Nº11: Lamborghini Diablo SE

One way of looking at the Lamborghini Diablo is as the shy, retiring, ultra-conversative cousin of the Countach. It’s the timid younger brother which replaced the final incarnation of the Countach after the latter’s production ceased in 1990.

But take the Diablo away from its family, and suddenly it shows its true colours (probably purple). For the Diablo is one of the most outrageous automobiles ever devised – huge, wide, low, almost undriveably impractical and ear-bendingly magnificent. Only the Countach could put it in the shade.

When the first Diablo was produced in 1990, it was the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed (it was claimed) of 202mph – thanks to its 492bhp, rear-mid-mounted, 5.7-litre, 48v Lamborghini V12 engine. Zero to 60mph was something in the region of four seconds. As with the Countach it replaced, the first Diablos were all rear-wheel drive. The Diablo SE (Special Edition) appeared in September 1993. A lightened, harder-edged and ‘sportier’ version of the car, production of the SE was limited to 150 units, built during 1994-1995.

You can see why Lambo owners love them. You can’t look at one without either gasping in prim horror, or laughing out loud at the sheer, exuberant fun of it all. And that’s before you try to drive it. Supercars usually require you to make compromises: the Diablo is the king of all compromises. You can’t see much out of the front and it’s probably safest to assume you’ll have absolutely no rear visibility. You can’t actually reverse the Diablo without opening the door and sitting on the sill… and so on.

But who cares? You don’t buy this car as a Grand Tourer. It’s for a certain sort of extrovert buyer who doesn’t give two hoots about practicalities. What a wonderful thing that such extreme cars exist.

If you’re going to have one, you might want to go the whole hog and pick one in purple? Check out what’s available here....

Text: Classic Driver
Photo: Lamborghini

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