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by Jay Traugott
Chrysler once helped to develop a V12 Lamborghini.
The Lamborghini Diablo had some big shoes to fill. When it was first introduced back in 1990, it was replacing the Countach, which had been on sale since 1974. The latter became a supercar legend and Lamborghini knew it was vital for its replacement to deliver the goods and uphold the Lamborghini brand. Meaning "devil" in Spanish, the Diablo's development began in 1985 under the 'Project 132' codename.
When listing the goals for the Countach's replacement, it was declared that it had to have a top speed of at least 196 mph. The exterior design was once again assigned to Marcello Gandini, the genius behind both the Miura and the Countach. During this time, Lamborghini was being run by the Mimran brothers, but development cash was still running short. Fortunately, Chrysler ended up buying the company in 1987 and they were able to financially complete the Diablo's development. However, Chrysler management, in their infinite wisdom, wasn't too happy with Gandini's final design.
They thought it was too edgy and not mainstream enough, so they sent the project to their own design team in Detroit to smooth out the car's lines. Needless to say, Gandini wasn't too thrilled by this corporate decision (he later built his original design and named it the Cizeta V16T). The completed Diablo made its debut in January, 1990 to overall rave reviews. It was powered by a 5.7-liter Lamborghini V12 with 492hp and 428lb-ft of torque. It could go from 0 to 62 mph in 4.5 seconds and had a top speed of 202 mph, easily beating that earlier goal.
Unlike the Countach, which had a rear mid-engine set up, the Diablo was mid-engined in order to improve weight balance. Unlike its predecessor, the Diablo came with more convenience features such as fully adjustable seats and steering wheel, an Alpine stereo, electric windows, and power steering. Most importantly, the Diablo was the fastest production car in the world in 1991, with a top speed of 207 mph. The previous record holder? The Ferrari F40 and the Diablo kept this title until the Bugatti EB110 beat it shortly thereafter. The Diablo VT, launched in 1993, was different than the base model because it featured all-wheel-drive.
Because of its success, all-wheel-drive later became standard on the base Diablo. The following year, the SE30 was launched, built to commemorate the automaker's 30th anniversary. The SE30 was basically a street-legal racecar that was both more powerful and lighter than the base Diablo. Its power was increased to 523hp, but it remained rear-wheel-drive in order to save weight. Further weight reductions were done by replacing glass side windows with plexiglass (with the sliding vent that's seen on many racecars), and the removal of the air-conditioning, stereo, and power steering.
Lamborghini also added carbon fiber seats, a fire suppression system, and anti-roll bars. Some exterior changes included a restyled front fascia where the Lamborghini emblem was moved from the bottom of the front hood to the front nose panel, special magnesium alloy wheels, and special SE30 badges. All told, just 150 SE30s were built, only 25 of which were destined for the U.S. And now number 19 is up for sale on eBay Motors. It has just 9,168 miles and only one previous owner. It also comes with its original window sticker, has a clean record, and drives wonderfully.
Asking price has been set at $159,900, but apparently the sellers are taking offers. Any (wealthy) Lamborghini fan should find this quite tempting. Photos courtesy of wwwevansauto.