The long awaited Lamborghini Diablo successor is nearing the introduction during a special ceremony held at Sant'Agata in early September, but the German Auto Motor und Sport magazine managed to get the very first photo's of this very secret new supercar from Automobili Lamborghini SpA.
This car was still disguised but with the aid of computer editing, a decent look at the new Lamborghini could be presented, the design created by a team of both German (Audi) and Italian (Lamborghini) designers under supervision of Luc Donckerwolke still looks closely related to the current Diablo, but this had been intended from the start, when Mr Piech decided to stop the Canto development by Zagato.
A first attempt at redesigning the front and rear part of the new Lamborghini was created by long time Lamborghini designer Bertone, but Audi AG didn't really like the initial results so they moved the design in-house, which led to the car that will be presented in September.
The basic technologies of the new Lamborghini are well known by now, the famous 60 degree, 48 valves V12 engine will have a displacement of 6.0 liter and will deliver between 570 hp and 590 hp, later more powerful versions will be introduced producing way over 600 Bhp, but at first the four wheel drive version will be presented with the 570 Bhp version, coupled to a sequential six speed gearbox that will be available right from the start.
This new Lamborghini will first be introduced as a coupe, but a Roadster version is already being designed, with more powerfull SV and GT version being considered.
According to CEO Guiseppe Greco there will no longer be a 'model year' policy, but different versions will be introduced each year, first the VT model, than the Roadster in 2002, an SV or GT edition in 2003 and so on ..., after the introduction of the L147 on the September Frankfurt Auto Show, Greco intends to sell a total of 60 to 80 units in 2001. The new Lamborghini will be introduced on the US market during the 2002 Detroit Auto Show in Januray, after which the production figures should become around 2 cars each day, resulting in a production of 450 L147's each year.
Still using a mid engine layout, the L147 uses a steel tube space frame chassis with the steel roof welded on, the doors are still aluminum while most of the other bodyparts are Carbon Fiber.
The L147 remains close to the current Diablo's layout, with the gearbox in front of the engine, it is very nice to see the engine cover seen on some photo's looks a lot like the one used on the legendary Miura, while later photo's show a revolutionary new design.
The L147 will receive a computer controlled suspension setup which controls the firmness and ride height depending on the speed of the car, this new model will also use a wide front track like the Diablo GTR's and a front mounted oil cooler, because the front overhang became a little longer, the luggage space the L147 offers is larger than the current Diablo VT 6L one.
As we could see on the limited edition Diablo SE 6.0, the interior of the new Diablo will be subject to the highest standards both in ergonomy and finishing, only the best materials will be used from the top suppliers available and the overall finishing will be a very high level, note that the interior was also redesigned by a team from IngolStadt headed by Luc Donckerwolke.
This new Lamborghini will again be named after a fighting bull, Automobili Lamborghini SpA tried eigth different names for the car, but much to their surprize, all these names were already taken by the competitors, so a new name had to be found while the fifth prototype was performing the final test runs, AutoWeek proudly published in their latest August issue the L147 would be called 'Murcielago', the Spanish for 'bat' and one of two names Automobili Lamborghini SpA registered over the last two months.
When this all new Lamborghini will be available to the public it will be listed in Europe for about US $ 200,000, but expect the price in the US to be higher than this, probably closer to $250,000, the final price of the L147 will only be a little over the list price for the current Diablo VT 6.0 because new techniques from Audi AG that will be used for the production and the lower part costs were able to keep the price reasonable. The car will remain rather exclusive because only 450 will be built each year, so waiting lists could become rather long for this new exotic.
For the 2003 production year, a total of nearly 2000 Lamborghini's will be built, with the introduction of the new L140 model that should become available during the summer of 2003 and at the same time will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the company.
To be launched at a price equivalent of $ 135,000 today, it will become a direct competitor for the Ferrari V8 models, using an all aluminum bodywork and an aluminum spaceframe created with the help of Audi AG, the L140 will use a new V10 engine being developed right now in Sant'Agata that should deliver over 400 hp and feature all wheel drive and a six speed gearbox, either a manual or a sequential version. The Formula One inspired sequential unit will probably be Magneti Marelli's SeleSpeed unit, design of this all new Lamborghini model could very well be executed by Fabrizio Guigiaro.