The Lamborghini Story

told through the cars they built


during the early 1980s Lamborghini's finances, never terribly good, were turned around by two brothers, Patrick and Jean-Claude Mimran.By 1985 they realise that they needed a replacement for the Countach And they commissioned Marcello Gandini, who had designed the Miura and Countach, to create a sports car for them which was capable of 196 mph. He set to with gusto, but before the vehicle was ready for production new owners came in. In 1987 the company was bought by Chrysler.

The new design team looked at Mr Gandini's designs, expressed a view that they were a little too sharp, and suggested alterations. Gandini was not amused. He had created two of the most successful cars in Lamborghini's history and felt he knew more about creating cars than designers from an American company famed more or for mass production than for hand building supercars. Nevertheless a compromise was reached and Chrysler pressed on and developed the two-door coupe to be known as the Diablo.

Although Americans are not usually known for being traditionalists they stayed with Ferruccio Lamborghini's policy of naming cars after bulls or bullfighting; Diablo was a particularly bad tempered 19th Century bull, righly called 'Devil' that fought a famous but, as usual, one sided battle with a bullfighter in 1869.

The Diablo was launched in January of 1990 and it quickly became recognised as probably the greatest 'head turner' ever. It wasn't just the futuristic looks that impressed everyone though. The performance was blistering. The original specification had been for a car which would reach 196 mph; but powered by a 12 cylinder 5.7 litre engine with computerised fuel injection capable of 485 brake horse power this could do 202 mph, as well as go from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour (62 mph) in 4.5 seconds. It had exotic alloy wheels, a low-slung aerodynamic body, a large tail wing, scissor doors, big air scoops down each side of the car to cool the engine. It looked as though it was doing a hundred mph when it was stood still.

Development didn't stand still though. Later editions of the Diablo gained four-wheel-drive, more power, even a removable roof for the first time ever on a Lamborghini. Was it successful? It's production ran for 11 years, during which time nearly 3000 of them were made; serious numbers for a hand built supercar, and one of the reasons why the Diablo ranks amongst the most famous cars in motoring history.