Lamborghini Diablo: PH Buying Guide

Thanks to Phil James for lending us his car to photograph for this guide (Pics: Steve Hall)
Thanks to Phil James for lending us his car to photograph for this guide (Pics: Steve Hall)
The tangled spaghetti of Lamborghini's history saw the Diablo first developed under the Mimram brothers. They commissioned Marcello Gandini to style the car, but it was Chrysler's 1987-on stewardship that provided the cash to bring the Diablo to the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo for its launch in 1990. The spectacular machine arrived with a breathtaking 202mph top speed, and the ability to cover 0-62mph in 3.9 seconds - crushing performance figures that varied only slightly throughout its 11-year production life.


The V12 engine, with a history tracing back to the Miura, was still the heart of the Diablo. It arrived in 5.7-litre form with 492bhp and grew to 6.0-litres, with power peaking at 595bhp in the limited-run Jota. There were numerous revisions and upgrades to the engine and transmission throughout the Diablo's life, as well as styling changes. The most notable styling revision was the switch from pop-up to fixed headlights with the arrival of the second generation VT in 1999, making the earlier Diablo the last car on sale with pop-up headlights before legislation caused their demise. (Well almost, see thread below - Ed.)

Lamborghini's sometimes turbulent ownership history entered calmer water in 1998 when Audi acquired the Italian firm from short-term custodians Megatech. It set about improving quality and making the most of the Diablo before it was replaced by the Murcielago in 2001.


Diablo ownership is not for the uninitiated, as there are a plethora of different models, rear- and four-wheel drive and special editions, even though overall production didn't top 3000. In fact it's reckoned just 2884 Diablos of all types were made, breaking down (sic?) thus:

Model Year Nos. built
Diablo 1990-96 873
VT 1993-99 Info unavailable
VT-R 1994-95 3
SE 30 1994 135
SE 30 Jota 1994-1995 15
SV 1995-99 Info unavailable
SV-R 1996 31
VT Roadster 1996-2000 466
SV Roadster 1998-99 5
GT (1&2) 1999-2000 80 (Split unavailable)
GTR 2000 30
VT 6.0 2000-2001 260
VT 6.0 SE 2001 42

Click the section links below to find out more:

1) Introduction (reading now)
2) Powertrain
3) Body
4) Rolling Chassis
5) Interior
6) General Experiences
7) Insurance quotes
8) Diablos in the PH classifieds now...

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Comments (82) Join the discussion on the forum

  • sjmoore 24 Feb 2011

    It is great that there are people willing to keep these alive but I still don't understand why anyone would buy one: brash, impractical, relatively slow (in anything but a straight line) and most likely painfully expensive to keep in good condition. Also, I'm sure not all owners are medallion-wearing, attention-seeking t**sers with complexes about the size of their manhood but if you don't fall into that group it must be tiring dealing with the preconceptions.

  • Dioblo 24 Feb 2011

    Truly an awesome car, i remember growing up with a picture of a white countach on my bedroom wall, and promising myself that one day i would own a lambo, the nearest i ever got was attempting to build a kit version of the diablo, 8 years and never got it finished. i've got the plate Dioblo on a retention just waiting for the day when i see a diablo for under 5 grand.....one day maybe.....till then, keep dreaming.

  • easytiger123 24 Feb 2011

    sjmoore said:
    It is great that there are people willing to keep these alive but I still don't understand why anyone would buy one: brash, impractical, relatively slow (in anything but a straight line) and most likely painfully expensive to keep in good condition. Also, I'm sure not all owners are medallion-wearing, attention-seeking t**sers with complexes about the size of their manhood but if you don't fall into that group it must be tiring dealing with the preconceptions.
    I don't own one but have always, always fancied a Diablo GT. Almost bought one a few years back and regret not doing so to this day. Brash, impractical, expensive to maintain, no rear window, wide, real world performance...they become irrelevant when you see one. Suddenly I just didn't give a fk about any of that, and wanted one. Badly! I guess it's the ability to totally ignore all rational argument that defines my love of cars. As for other people's preconceptions...

  • cronk-flakes 24 Feb 2011

  • markcoznottz 24 Feb 2011

    Wasnt the esprit the last car on sale with pop up headlamps?.

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