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One-off Lamborghini Raptor heads to auction

RM Sotheby's Abu Dhabi affair attracts a predictable sort of buyer. With extremely deep pockets

By Dafydd Wood / Friday, November 15, 2019

We all remember the Lamborghini Canto, successor to the Diablo and precursor to the Aventador. It was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1999, replacing the aging Diablo with a more powerful, more exclusive model. At least, it should have been. Instead Lamborghini was bought by Audi, Ferdinand Piech (quite understandably) disliked the car’s styling, and the entire project was canned. Originally, up to 400 examples had been planned but, with only one fully-functioning prototype complete, the Canto was declared dead. 

A similar story had played out three years prior, when Zagato previewed a new limited-run model in the same Geneva halls. Dubbed the Raptor, it was intended to introduce the design language which the public would soon see in the series-production Canto - which was also penned by the famed coachbuilder. 

Power was drawn from the same 5.7-litre V12 found in the Diablo, while the six-speed manual transmission and all-wheel drive set-up were lifted directly from that car, too. Thanks to its carbon-fibre bodywork, minimalist interior, magnesium wheels and enormous clamshell cockpit - which negated the need for heavy doors - though, the Raptor weighed nearly 300kg less than its super sibling. 

Having benefited from cutting-edge digital design and manufacturing processes, the car had progressed from initial sketch to functioning prototype in just four months. It would prove to be even quicker to drive than it was to conceive. That featherweight design resulted in a 0-60 time of less than four seconds, with a top speed in excess of 200mph. Despite ditching the Diablo’s traction control and ABS systems, performance and handling were said to be extremely good. This was thanks to aero features such as Zagato’s signature ‘double bubble’ roof - removable in this case to turn the Raptor into a spider - and enormous Alcon brakes. 

In a sign of things to come, and despite a warm reception from customers and the public alike, the decision was made not to put the Raptor into production. Ironically it was the Canto itself which was cited as the reason, Lamborghini not wanting to tread on the forthcoming model’s toes with a design deemed to be too similar. Which means that the example going under the hammer in two-weeks’ time is the only one. 

Now a two-owner car, it’s not only rare to see the Raptor up for sale, but in public at all. Having made an appearance at the 2008 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, it has not been publicly displayed or driven since. As a result it likely needs a thorough going over before it hits the road once more, which should of course be figured into the $1-1.4m estimate before you bid. 

Should that seem a little steep, another piece of Lamborghini history is up for grabs at RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi auction. With just 18 miles on the clock, this virtually brand-new Diablo VT represents the other side of the Canto coin; as a 2001 car, it would never have been built had the Canto reached production. 

Being an Abu Dhabi event, the lot list is almost too incredible to bother listing further here - just go and see for yourself. From an ex-Schumacher Ferrari F2002 to an FXX-K and a Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss to a Jaguar C-X75, the choice is immense. So immense, in fact, that the Raptor isn’t even the only one-off Lamborghini concept up for grabs. In terms of its standout significance, however, and unique positioning at the crossroads of Lamborghini’s diverging paths, there’s only one car we’d be exchanging our millions for this time around.

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