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Lamborghini Diablo: Buying guide & review (1990-2001)

Lamborghini Diablo: Buying guide & review (1990-2001) Classic and Performance Car
Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo Lamborghini Diablo
Some said it was a dinosaur from the start. The size of it, the lack of visibility, the outrageous straight-line speed and the, er, challenging handling. Lamborghini was in trouble when it started on the Diablo, the successor to the long-in-the-tooth Countach, and in too many ways it showed.
 
But the Diablo also had plenty going for it. The V12 was the centrepiece of its appeal, a 500bhp monster developed from the magnificent engine that had powered the great Lamborghinis; the Miura and the Countach among them. The phenomenal noise it made was as politically incorrect as the car itself, and that’s always what the Diablo was about: an old-school devil of a car that was as intoxicating as it was infuriating.
 
Lamborghini, at the time financed by the Swiss-based Mimram brothers, had commissioned Marcello Gandini, creator of the Miura and the Countach, to design the new model. But in 1987 Chrysler, headed by Italo-American Lee Iacocca, bought Lamborghini, providing enough money to complete the development of the Diablo. Chrysler bosses weren’t impressed with Gandini’s designs and eventually Chrysler’s own design studio in the USA made extensive changes, smoothing the sharp edges and corners of Gandini’s version. Gandini was famously unimpressed.
 
The car that emerged certainly looked very different from the Countach. Its cab-forward design was reminiscent of the Group C race cars of the era, but under the skin the design was Countach, even though the spaceframe chassis was now produced in square tubing rather than round (this allowed fixings to be more easily attached). 
 
A body built mostly from composites and aluminium alloy gave great structural strength, but the restrictions of using such an old basic structure, plus more modern-day marketing requirements for air conditioning and electric windows that wound right down, meant that the Diablo weighed more than the Countach and its rivals. Remarkably, it was also two inches wider than even the girthsome Ferrari Testarossa.
 
25 years on the Diablo still has a presence like few other cars on the road, its swooping lines and wide stance give it a menacing demeanour that fits its character perfectly. 492bhp, rear wheel drive and no traction control meant that the first versions were best approached with a racing driver's reflexes and a lot of self control. Dry weather handling was impressive but in wet conditions the best thing to do was to leave the car parked safely at home and take the bus. From 1993 onwards customers had the option of Viscous Traction four wheel drive, this helped put the power to the ground more effectively in adverse conditions.
 
With 2884 sold throughout its 11 year production life it was very successful for Lamborghini, outselling the Countach by over 800 units. This despite a change in ownership and a four year shorter production run.
 

Which Diablo to buy?

 
With an 11 year production run and quite a few updates along the way, there are a variety of models to look at. Audi took over the brand in 1998 and the facelifted cars under its ownership received some much needed upgrades without taking away the character of the original cars. The first models have the cleanest lines and with rear wheel drive only, demand the most respect when accessing their abilities. The last of the line 6 litre models with 550bhp, four-wheel drive, improved handling and climate control are a natural development of the Diablo and are desirable in their own right. 
 
In between these two, there are the roadster models and a number of special edition cars such as the Jota, GT, GT-R as well as various race versions. Rear wheel models were available up until near the end of production, four wheel drive was also made available in both the roadster and hard top versions. The VT Roadster was available in four wheel drive and featured an electric targa top that was stored above the engine lid when not in use. Fuel consumption is ferocious, while practicality is not a strong point – but then again these are not the things you look for in a supercar. 
 
Special editions like the SE30 of which only 150 were produced, or the even rarer Jota models which numbered 15 will always command a premium over the standard cars. The SE30 versions released in 1994 to celebrate 30 years of Lamborghini retained rear wheel drive got a power increase to 530bhp as well as some body and suspension upgrades. The Jota models were basically for track use only and had an open exhaust helping raise power to 603bhp as well as very distinct roof mounted intake ducts. A mid-life facelift saw changes to headlights, dashboards and engines of the regular models as well as some detail changes to air intakes and body panels. What to look for whichever you choose are unabused low mileage cars and preferably a face-lifted model.
 

Performance and specs

 
Lamborghini Diablo - original specification
Engine 5.7L 48valve V12 
Power 492bhp @ 7000rpm 
Torque 428lb ft @ 5200rpm 
Top speed 202mph
0-62mph 4.5 seconds 
Consumption 12-18mpg 
Gearbox Five-speed manual 
 

Dimensions and weight

 
Wheelbase 2670mm
Length 4458mm
Width 2040mm
Height 1105mm
Weight 1575kg
 

Common problems

 
• Maintenance and parts on these cars is not cheap, but annual servicing and preventative maintenance will protect your investment and while the cars are strong there are some issues to be aware of. Annual servicing or every 6750 miles is a must so be prepared to visit your specialist often.
 
• Engines are a development of the original V12 from the 350GT, which was introduced back in 1963. They are robust units, however as with all highly strung engines regular servicing and fluid changes are a must. Look for minor oil leaks from the back of the head gasket, this could point to infrequent maintenance.
 
• There was originally a problem with the hydraulic cam timing chain tensioners fitted to early cars. Most of these should have been updated to the better manual adjusters, but it's best to find out.
 
• Front shock absorbers can drip hydraulic fluid, and may point to dirt having entered the system. a modification can be carried out to fix this issue.
 
• Clutches are known for having short life spans, the huge torque causes wear and generally they will require replacement every 18,000 miles.
 
• Rust can be an issue, so inspect the bodywork carefully. Sills can go, as well as the floor under the front luggage compartment. Also check the signs of bubbling along the door bottoms.
 
• Interiors are generally hard wearing, so be cautious of car with poor seats and dashboards as it can point to neglect.
 
• Climate control came in for criticism on the early 5.7 litre cars, all 6 litre versions had much improved systems.
 

Model History

 
1990: Lamborghini Diablo launched
1993: Diablo VT with viscous traction four wheel drive introduced
1994: Diablo SE30 and SE30 Jota produced in limited numbers
1995: Diablo SV and Diablo VT Roadster introduced
1998: Facelift to all models. Audi takes over ownership. SV,VT and VT Roadster receive power upgrades, VT 6.0 introduced (40 built) and GT 6.0 introduced (83 built)
2001: Last Diablo rolls off production line with production totalling 2884 units.
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
- www.lamborghiniclub.co.uk
- www.lamborghiniregistry.com
- lamborghiniownersclub.co.uk
 

Summary and prices

 
The Lamborghini Diablo is the quintessential '90s supercar, it demands your total attention but rewards you with the kind of raw edged thrills that its modern computer controlled counterparts lack. With looks to match, it remains a very desirable machine.  
 
Early 5.7 Litre 2 wheel drive Diablos can be found for around £130,000. A full service history is a must, and a careful check for any signs of accident damage should be carried out, as this will greatly affect the value of the car. The later 6 litre models generally command a fair premium and a concours condition car with low mileage can set you back up to £250,000. 
 
Low production run special editions and face-lifted cars are generally more sought after. There is no doubt that these cars values are rising and getting the right one should ensure that your weekend drives are filled with the kind of raw adrenaline filled excitement that only a Lamborghini can offer.
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Last updated: 21st Sep 2016
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Lamborghini Diablo cars for sale

5 Search results
Lamborghini Diablo
159990 249990 GBP
  • Lamborghini Diablo

    £179,990 £179,990

    Branding pk, Manual transmission, High level rear wingVVS are delighted to offer this Lamborghini Diablo SV, presented in Giallo with contrasting black alcantara with yellow sitching and branding. This wonderful limited edition Diablo is the rare hard core super veloce with more horse power and lighter settings, one of a very limited number in right hand drive and is in good usable order with a comprehensive service history. Like all SV Lamborghini models, these are a true investment long term and should be included in any Lamborghini collection., Please visit www.vvsuk.co.uk for 20 High Definition photographs of this car.

    • Mileage: 20000 mi
    • Engine size: 5707
    For sale
    VVS UK Ltd
  • Lamborghini Diablo

    £249,990 £249,990

    Blue Hera, Carbon Fibre Driving Zone, Carbon Fibre Inserts, Sports ExhaustVVS are delighted to offer this rare and sought after Diablo 6.0 VT. A final edition car and presented in gorgeous blue hera metallic with avorio cream hide, sparkling silver alloys and full carbon fibre driving zone. These cars are now incredible investment opportunities and are ever so sought after as they were produced in low volume under the new Audi regime when Lamborghini was taken over. This example is in pristine original order with only one former keeper and therefore is one for the collector, having just had a major service SB race engineering, all books keys and toolkit are complete with the car., Please visit www.vvsuk.co.uk for 20 High Definition photographs of this car.

    • Mileage: 20000 mi
    • Engine size: 5992
    For sale
  • Lamborghini Diablo

    £159,990 £159,990

    VVS are delighted to be able to once again offer this stunning Lamborghini Diablo Roadster. Presented in Giallo fly with perfectly contrasting dark blue leather upholstery. Having covered only 30,000 miles with comprehensive service history and low ownership, this Lamborghini offers excellent investment potential with only 200 examples being built between 1995-1998 worldwide and only a handful in right hand drive. Stunning condition and ready to go., Please visit www.vvsuk.co.uk for 20 High Definition photographs of this car.

    • Mileage: 30000 mi
    • Engine size: 5707
    For sale
  • Lamborghini Diablo

    €199,000(£177,826.40) €199,000(£177,826.40)

    Specifications Year of manufacture: 1993 Chassis number: ZA9DE07A0SLA12837 Exterior color: Rosso Interior color: Black leather Mileage: 23 500 Km HP: 492cv Engine displacement: 5707 cm3 Gearbox: Manual Service book: No History and maintenance This beautiful Lamborghini Diablo was delivered new to its first owner on 1993. It shows only 23 500 Km on the odometer and is in a very good condition indoor / outdoor. Servicing was done on August 2016 at the official Lamborghini center in Lyon: engine oil, new clutch system, accessories belts, 4 new tires, new front pads. Warranty The vehicle will be sold revised and guaranteed 3 months or 5000 Km Price 199 000 € Ad link http://www.jeanlainvintage.com/vehicule/lamborghini-diablo/ Find us and contact us Jean Lain Vintage – Showroom / +334 79 88 66 36 – Jérôme Millias +337 60 14 73 07 11 Rue de la Dent du Chat 73 420 Voglans France Jean Lain Vintage – Workshop and restoration / +334 50 84 21 80 9 Rue de la Californie 74 100 Ville-la-Grand France info@jeanlainvintage.com http://jeanlainvintage.com/ Opening hours From Monday to Friday, 8am to 12am and 2pm to 7pm Saturday and Sunday on appointment

    • Year: 1993
    • Mileage: 23500 mi
    For sale
  • 1999 (T) LAMBORGHINI DIABLO VT Coupe 2dr

    £199,995 £199,995

    This stunning Lamborghini Diablo VT is a UK supplied by Lamborghini Great Britain Limited in1999 Registered on a S reg. With only having 2 previous keepers, the first keeper being Mrs. Clotilde Abdul Rahman of Brompton Road, London and a Special order colour and believed to be the only one in Yellow Skirt Hic with Bianco Leather Interior she covered at total of 13, 034 Kilometers the second keeper Mr. K Abbott covered only 641 Kilometers so in total the Diablo has covered a total of just 13,675 Kilometers. (8490 miles) Being one of the last Diablo's before the 6.0VT this car has all the attribute having the key specification for a great investment Pop up light, 5 speed manual box, V12 Made in the era when Ferruccio Lamborghini when he was alive. EXTERIOR This car is in the rare, yet beautiful Yellow Skirt Hic, which is a rare but original factory colour. Rear Spoiler, 18" VT Roadster alloys, has all the original tools in the front. This truly makes this car a real eye catcher. INTERIOR The interior is upholstered in Bianco Leather with Nero Lamborghini embroidered carpets beautifully complementing the exterior, original Alpine triple CD changer Drivers air bag, Lower binnacle, power steering, clutch and gears. HISTORY This vehicle has an extensive service history which is as follows: 09/02/2000 - 3,024 Km - Lamborghini London 28/01/2002 - 5,931 Km - Lamborghini London 24/01/2003 - 7,544 Km - Lamborghini London 03/01/2007 - 10,289 Km - Lamborghini London 24/03/2011 - 12,639 Km - Lamborghini London 27/02/2015 - 13,030 Km - Lamborghini London 15/09/2016 - 13,675 Km - Service Amari MOT 16/08/2013 @ 12,888 km 07/08/2014 @ 13,031 km 13/08/2015 @ 13,477 km 19/08/2016 @ 13,587 km Current mot expires 18/08/2017. WHEELS & TYRES This car sits on Pirelli P-Zero's All Around. Tread Depths are: Front Right: mm Front Left: mm Rear Right: mm Rear Left: mm We have the original Owner's Pack with Manuals, Service Booklet & 2 Sets of Keys. Viewing strictly by appointment. The Diablo VT was introduced in 1993. Although the VT differed from the standard Diablo in a number of ways, by far the most notable change was the addition of all wheel drive, which made use of a viscous center differential (a modified version of LM002's 4WD system). This provided the new nomenclature for the car (VT stands for viscous traction). The new drivetrain could direct up to 25% of the torque to the front wheels to aid traction during rear wheel slip, thus significantly improving the handling characteristics of the car. Other improvements debuting on the VT included front air intakes below the driving lamps to improve brake cooling, larger intakes in the rear arches, a more ergonomic interior with a revised dashboard, electronically adjustable dampers, four-piston brake calipers, power steering, and minor engine refinements. Many of these improvements, save the four-wheel drive system, soon transferred to the base Diablo, making the cars visually nearly identical. Prior to offering for sale, all cars are subject to the AMARI Inspection, a stringent 170 point investigation of the car cosmetically, electrically and mechanically. Our resident master technicians attend to all issues prior to offering the car for sale, using the very latest and best diagnostic equipment, state of the art tools and methods. Our highly qualified master technicians can carry out servicing on all road cars, from the standard family hatch back to the latest Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin... We are the only independent dealer with full Ferrari SDX Diagnostics and the Lamborghini LARAS Diagnostics systems. Our fully equipped workshop enables us to attend to any electrical, and mechanical issues, from intricate electrical repairs and renewals, to brake disc Skimming and air conditioning recharging. Before collection all cars go through our exhaustive detailing process (can take up to three days) using only the worlds finest Swissvax products, carried out by our professional certified Swissvax trained technicians, covering every aspect of the car inside and out. Collection and delivery throughout the UK can be offered through the most reputable manufacturer championed company who use only the very latest covered car transporters with extensive experience of transporting cars across the world. Vehicles are supplied with a three month warranty *Exclusions Apply. We offer part exchange and finance facility on most cars. AMARI Lifestyle Limited T/As AMARI SuperCars is authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (663066)

    • Mileage: 13584 mi
    • Engine size: 5.7
    For sale
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