After 17 years in production, the legendary Countach was replaced by the Diablo, which on its arrival was the fastest, most advanced and most expensive Lamborghini ever built. First exhibited publicly at Monaco in January 1990, the Diablo improved on its illustrious predecessor in every way, setting a new benchmark in supercar design. Nobody can have been surprised to learn that it had been styled by Marcello Gandini, the man responsible for the Lamborghini Miura and Countach, for the family resemblance was obvious.
Beneath the skin there was a steel spaceframe chassis, developed from the Countach's, but constructed of square-section rather than round tubing and incorporating 'crumple zones' at front and rear. The use of carbon-fibre composite panels, first seen in the Countach Evoluzione model, was extended in the Diablo, which also featured revised suspension capable of accommodating the envisaged future developments of four-wheel drive and active suspension. Stretched to 5.7 litres for the Diablo, Lamborghini's 48-valve V12 engine gained fuel injection for the first time, producing its maximum of 492bhp at 7,000rpm. Of equal, if not greater significance, maximum torque went up to 428lb/ft, an improvement of 55% over the Countach. Catalytic converters were standard, enabling the reworked V12 to meet emissions requirements worldwide.
With more power and a lower drag coefficient than the Countach, the Diablo easily eclipsed its forebear, exceeding 200mph (322km/h) on test. More importantly, its acceleration and top speed figures were marginally better than those of the Ferrari F40. The Diablo though, was not a limited edition model like the latter, but a series production car with a luxuriously appointed interior reflecting its designers' intention to produce a civilised Gran Turismo as suited to city streets and motorways as the racetrack. Its UK launch price was pitched at just under £153,000, making the Diablo one the world's most expensive cars. Four-wheel drive Diablo VT and Targa-style open roadster versions soon followed and then came the Diablo SE (Special Edition) only 150 examples of which were built to celebrate Lamborghini's 30 years as a car manufacturer.
Finished in red with Champagne leather interior, this particular Diablo was sold new via Portman's, the Surrey-based Lamborghini concessionaires, to Skelton Haulage, of Coventry and acquired by the (recently deceased) elderly owner in 1997. Portman's carried out the first service in 1994 and in 1997 the speedometer was changed at circa 10,000 kilometres. (The odometer currently reads 6,900 kilometres making the total from new circa 16,900). Graypaul serviced the car in 1999 at an indicated 3,940 kilometres (circa 13,940 in actual fact). Described as in effectively 'as new' condition, the car is offered with sundry service records, current MoT and Swansea V5 registration document. It has had a tracker fitted, and for the last couple of years has been kept in an air-conditioned garage. A wonderful opportunity to acquire a regularly maintained but little used example of one of the defining supercars of its era at a mere fraction of its cost when new.