When it comes to the Diablo, Lamborghini really did save the best until last
By Matt Bird / Sunday, September 26, 2021 / Loading comments
How many times do you hear concerns about new supercars losing ‘character’ or ‘engagement’ when compared to their predecessors? It’s a trope that feels almost as old as the supercar itself. In some historical instances it might be warranted, but in plenty more it isn’t; even in recent cases like the McLaren 720S, it’s hard to imagine anyone desperately clamouring for a more ‘pure’ experience with the old model.
When Audi assumed control of Lamborghini, however, there were some legitimate concerns. This was Audi of the 1990s, remember. Up until that point the most interesting thing it had done was the RS2, and Porsche was largely responsible for that. Fans were worried that Audi would end up diluting the appeal of Lamborghini, sanitising what were then the world’s wildest supercars – and it wasn’t hard to see where they were coming from. What would be the point of a Lamborghini that wasn’t a bit silly?
Inevitably, a teeny bit of edge was taken out of the Lamborghini supercars, but not many would call the Audi-developed Murcielago a walk in the park. And the Gallardo that followed a couple of years after became the best-selling Lamborghini ever, largely thanks to four-wheel drive security, the option of an automated manual, and a more accessible entry price. So you won’t find many complaining about the Audi influence. But there is a sweet spot, where old school Lambo and progressive Audi meet in almost perfect harmony, and it’s the very last Diablos. From 1998 to 2001, a model launched in 1990 by Lamborghini was refined and honed by Audi to be, if not perfect, then about as good as a Diablo could be. And that made it a pretty incredible car.
The interior was improved and better built (this is Audi, after all), the styling revised (by Luc Donckerwolke, no less) the chassis tweaked and the legendary V12 upped to 6.0-litres and 550hp. Those late Diablos are commonly accepted as the best of both worlds, combining German quality control with Lamborghini lairiness. Even with four-wheel drive.
Need proof? Not only is a car like this 2001 6.0 VT up for sale at more than every non-SV Murcielago available, it also commands more than earlier SVs. The £235k asking price of this one isn’t even the ceiling for Audi-era Diablos, as another is for sale at a quarter of a million. The secret is very much out on the late Diablos, then, but by the standards of classic Lamborghinis it – remarkably – isn’t an enormous sum. Have you seen what Countachs are being offered at?
Furthermore, the fact that the late Diablos will very much offer a classic Lambo experience – but with a touch of Audi finesse – is exactly why their appeal and value have shot up. More demanding than a Murcielago – no e-gear option here, remember – yet less obstinate than a Countach feels like a great place for a modern classic Lamborghini to be. Even if you do lose the pop-up lights…
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