On the 1999 Geneva Auto Show, Automobili Lamborghini SpA unveiled their latest creation, the Lamborghini Diablo GT, a limited production run of only 80 units would be available in Europe starting from September 1999, and no homologation had been obtained for the United States or any other countries.
This new Diablo GT was the result from the experience obtained from the Diablo GT2 prototype, continuing on this design the Diablo GT was created. If compared to the normal Diablo, the obvious difference was the bodywork, it became very aggressive, with a true race feeling about it. The suspension geometry was altered with an improved chassis configuration and by using more composite materials, the overall weight was lowered.
The front track was enlarged which caused the front wheel arches to be widened, and last but not least, a 6 Litre V-12 engine was installed, giving a substantial power boost compared to the already very fast Diablo SV (the GT would also be a rear wheel drive model).
Automobili Lamborghini SpA stated in their original press release the Diablo GT was the fastest production car in the world, a highly disputed statement, but with a top speed of over 338 Km/h., the Diablo GT was surely one of the fastest cars around.
Although the Diablo GT was extremely fast and nearly race track ready, it would be homologated for road use in Europe only, no official GT would be exported into the United States or Japan, but it would soon arrive on those markets too, probably by a 'grey' import.
The modified V-12 engine was enlarged to 5992 cc by using a stroke of 84 mm instead of the standard 80 mm on the 'normal' Diablo.
An 'Individual Intake System' was conceived by Lamborghini, by using a single throttle for each cylinder, new intake and exhaust camshafts coupled to an improved Variable Valve Timing System, the Diablo GT had 575 Bhp under the pedal.
By installing a special exhaust system with a new Lamborghini ENCS (Exhaust Noise Control System) the top speed went up to nearly 340 Km/h.
This new Diablo GT still used rear wheel drive with a five-speed manual, but the customer could specify completely customized gear ratios. The gear lever was located on the central tunnel as usual, but was now slightly tilted toward the driver for better access and to allow faster gear changes. The enlarged front track, improved suspension and tubular frame gave a more stable ride at very high speeds; the Diablo GT used new aluminum pedals on the inside and specific lightweight alloy multi piece wheels on the outside. The four power assisted, perforated disks still received a Lucas based ABS system, a front size of 355 mm and 335 mm at the rear got the Diablo GT to stop even better than the 'standard' Diablo.
The extremely aggressive looking bodywork of this Diablo GT was almost completely made of carbon fibre, only the roof was still made of steel and the doors were kept in aluminum. The GT also used an air intake on top of the engine cover, but on the GT it was dynamically controlled by the engine electronics, the big front spoiler was completely redesigned, incorporating a large air intake for the new front mounted oil cooler. The front wings were enlarged to cope with the larger track and the front hood now featured an air extractor, the rear bumper was radically changed and was even more wing shaped than before, and held two very big exhaust pipes mounted in the middle.
Since the backup light and the rear fog light were no longer housed in the rear bumper, because there was absolutely no place for them anymore, they were now incorporated into the outer rear light units, the fog light was positioned in the left light while the white backup light was seated in the right unit, both were accompanied by the turn signal indicators.
The big rear wing was standard issue on the Diablo GT and on this very special car, it was completely finished in a high gloss Carbon Fibre.
For the interior Lamborghini mounted special race-type bucket seats with a full four-point race harness, a new smaller size steering wheel completed the leather and Alcantara interior. By using several carbon fibre parts on the dashboard and throughout the interior, the race feeling was further enhanced, but the air condition remained standard, an attempt at keeping the Diablo GT drivable when things got hot, a dual airbag system was still available, but it was an option.
Also note that the 'normal' Diablo seats could also be specified when ordering the Diablo GT, if you didn't like the full racing spec seats normally found inside the GT model.
On the September 1999 Frankfurt Auto show the Diablo GT was shown with an optionally available camera mounted underneath the rear spoiler and coupled to an Alpine Colour LCD screen mounted in the dashboard. This system allowed you to reverse the car easier, because an interior rear view mirror was useless because the central mounted air intake blocks the view; the same screen was also used for the Alpine GPS Satellite Navigation system and the HiFi installation.
Pricing was rather high at about $ 300,000, so sell your Diablo SV and start saving your bucks to secure your order at the nearest European dealer, the Diablo GT would be available from September, but orders could be fixed by the time Geneva closes its doors in March.
The price had been set at £ 207,000 and only four were destined for the UK, two of these were already sold during the UK Motor Show in April 1999. In Germany the car would be sold for a healthy DM 560.000. Pricing was set at a high level but in January 2000, just after the first deliveries were made, the entire production run was sold out, in the end Automobili Lamborghini SpA had sold exactly 83 Diablo GT, all with left-hand drive.
It is noteworthy that the Diablo GT was actually not street legal in the United States but several cars were eventually imported into the US anyway, if all these cars could be registered for road use remained a big question mark.
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January 1. 2010
Text © Mark Smeyers
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