It’s winter, and this is Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy and that means fog. a prophet. And it’s not just fog, but the cool, wet, twisty kind. . . It sneaks up your sleeves, down around your collar, and into your underwear. In this atmosphere comes the Lamborghini Diablo, the long-awaited alternative to the Countach. Sitting there in the cold fog, the car seems to be releasing heat of its own. You can warm your hands on it. hot stuff. Exciting, too, ready to skew in the minds of millions of people like The Car on a pedestal – the car you’d give up entirely, except that your “everything you have” (my too!) might not touch the purchase price.
This story originally appeared in the March 1990 issue of Road & Track.
What’s most important about Diablo – named after a famous fighting bull – is, of course, the exterior design. That’s what makes the blood race. And with Diablo, your pulse will rise because his cool looks should deliver the Countach, as sexy as he is, to history. Diablo is truly the fitting replacement for the 19-year-old weirdo. The same guy who crafted the Countach (as well as Lamborghini’s Miura, Espada, Urraco, Marzal and Bravo show cars) did the Diablo. In his studio in Turin, Italy, Marcello Gandini took the idea of the Countach and took it in the 1990s. You’ll see plenty of Countaches in the Diablo—like the proportions, the power of both the front and rear of the car, and the unique wheels—but with the softer, aerodynamic look of the ’90s. Diablo’s exterior is majestic, stunning without being shocking, very pleasing to the eyes. Gandini once told us that when designing the Countach, he wanted “people to be amazed when they see the car.” He succeeded with Countach, and he did it again with Diablo.
Here’s how to measure the Diablo-Countach comparison
Diablo | Kontach
wheelbase: 104.3 | 96.5
Track (front/rear): 59.4 / 64.6 | 60.5 / 63.2
Length: 175.6 | 165.4
an offer: 80.3 | 78.7
Height: 43.5 | 42.1
ground clearance: 5.5 | 4.9
Curb Weight (lbs): 3640 | 3280
(with driver), F/R, 40/60 | 42/58
Among the things kept from the Countach were the hinged and swing front doors. Not using these unique doors would be as ridiculous as not rendering the Diablo in red. The car’s interior also shows its heritage, with comfortable soft leather-covered seats separated by a long central tunnel. There’s little in front of the passenger, while the driver has his usual instrument cluster, now assembled in a rounded rectangular dashboard rather than a Countach box-like arrangement. The trip computer, heating/air conditioning controls, and Alpine stereo are still stacked in the center console. A beautiful transformation portal. The use of sound-deadening materials was increased, and negative US restrictions were in the form of airbags. It is an excellent job of taking what was once loved and properly updating it. Much of the work is not by Gandini, but by American Bill Dayton, who did the design while working at Lamborghini.
There is a small trunk – 5 cubic meters. Advance – so to take advantage of it you really have to buy beautifully appointed luggage.
The look may be stunning, but it could be half a proper Italian supercar. And what Gandini had to do to update the legendary design, Luigi Marmiroli (formerly for the Ferrari and Alfa Romeo Formula 1 teams) had to do to the chassis.
“You should excuse my English,” says Marmeroli. Who is the technical director of Lamborghini, “But remember that the language of these cars is the dialect of Modenese. Not only Italian, but Modenese.” No excuses necessary, not only because Marmeroli’s English is very good, but also because language barriers disappear once you start talking about technical details.
Lamborghini’s engineers were completely free to do whatever they wanted with the Diablo, but the basics were assumed – the mid-engine V-12 put in. As Marmeroli points out, “We wanted to continue the Lamborghini philosophy and continue the Lamborghini history.” He is proud that the same men who made the Lamborghini Miura design model did the same with the Diablo. But he’s equally excited because a lot of the engineering and development has been done with CAD/CAM and finite element computers in Sant’Agata and Chrysler supercomputers in Highland Park, Michigan.
Diablo and Countach both use a space frame, but there the similarity ends. In the old car, the frame was all from round steel tubes. For the new model, the tubes are of a square section, which makes it easier to attach components to them. These tubes in the center section of the Diablo are made of high-strength steel to build a protective cage around the occupants. The tubes in the front and rear of the vehicle are of milder steel to allow crush control in the event of an accident. Some pieces are taped to the front to guide the way it bends under load. Also adding stiffness to the centerpiece of the Diablo is a carbon fiber center tunnel and steel roof.
The fenders and doors are aluminum alloy, which is stronger than the pure aluminum used in the Countach and results in a better finish. There are six main aluminum body panels, which are stamped in Turin, then fitted and welded together into a Lamborghini. The hood, front trunk lid, rocker panels, fenders and front and rear spoilers are also carbon fibre. These composite parts are made in Lamborghini, where they have been in development for four years, and are used because of their superior finish and strength, Marmeroli says.
One of the more unusual pieces is the lower rear spoiler, which is primarily a bumper to meet American standards, and secondly, the aerodynamic device. When measured in a wind tunnel, the Diablo Cx comes in at 0.31. For those who insist, there is a rear spoiler available, although the basic design of the car is so beautiful that it would be a shame to change it.
As you might expect in such an exotic vehicle, the suspension is upper and lower with A-arms front and rear. This has not changed in principle from the Countach, although the machine is naturally new and there are engineering modifications. One design change at the front allows for a second type of axle used in the all-wheel drive Diablo. Marmiroli prefers to call it the viscous transmission version, so as not to confuse it with an off-road machine. As on the Countach, the Diablo’s engine is installed front to rear, with the clutch, then the 5-speed gearbox, before the V-12. Power is transmitted to the rear wheels by a crankcase-mounted transmission shaft to the rear differential and then to the wheels. With the VT model—available as an option in 1991—a viscous gearbox coupling sends power forward through a carbon-fiber driveshaft to the front differential. If the rear wheels start to spin, up to 15 percent of the engine’s power can be directed to the front wheels to improve traction.
Other chassis details include 13.0 in. Front disc vent and 11.2 inches. Ventilated rear disc brakes, without ABS. Steering is an unassisted rack and pinion. The tires are Pirelli PZero, with 245/40ZR-17s sized at 17 x 8-inch/2-inch. Aluminum alloy wheels up front and 335/35ZR-17’s 17×13-inch wheels. At the back. By contrast, the Countach is equipped with 225/50VR-15s in the front and 345/35VR-15s in the rear.
Those big tires and all-wheel drive system will be helpful in getting the Diablo’s power to the road. The engine fundamentals haven’t changed: an aluminum V-12 with 48 valves, two camshafts per head. However, much of what’s inside is new, from mechanical parts to displacement, which goes up from 5.2 liters to 5.7 liters, with the bore and stroke larger than before. The compression ratio rises from 9.5 to 10.0:1. The new induction, fuel management and injection system are triggered and horsepower rises to 485 from 455 in the Countach. Torque also rises dramatically, from 368 lb-ft at 5000 rpm to 428 at 5200. And all this despite the Diablo’s use of premium, lead-free catalytic converters, which are now the norm in Europe as well.
All this brings us to the most famous question: “What are you going to do?” Much in a hurry. Factory tests show acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h (62.0 mph) in 4.1 seconds and a stop kilometer in 20.8 seconds. maximum speed? Lamborghini claims 205 mph. That’s the performance that will put the Countach on the trailer, with its 0-60 time of 4.7 seconds. The final speed is around 180. Lamborghini is proud to point out that those numbers (which were set up at the Nardo test track in southern Italy) mean Diablo will be putting out a Ferrari F40, which certainly lacks the urbanization of the big Lamborghini.
After “What are you going to do?” Usually comes “how much?” Lamborghini and Chrysler haven’t said yet, but we’re guessing the price will be around $175,000, minus the fitted luggage. Add all-wheel drive and the price will rise to the $200,000 area. Lamborghini will build an estimated 500 Diablos each year, with deliveries to begin in late spring. Oh, and don’t expect any incentives to buy, cashback offers, or low interest rates. Diablos will be cash and strictly carry.