The Diablo SV-R was the first Lamborghini that was officially entered into racing by the factory, although the actual drivers weren’t factory pilots, it was still the closest thing to a race car Automobili Lamborghini SpA ever built, beside the Formula one engines they built.
Automobili Lamborghini SpA issued a press release on this car during the 1996 Geneva Auto Show, which stated they would offer a three years mono brand Trophy that was open to both professional drivers and gentleman enthusiasts … offering them the possibility to drive the new Diablo SV-R, a true racing version of the famous Lamborghini Diablo.
Take a standard Diablo SV (if there even is such a thing) and strip out everything not needed on the race track … to start the headlights were removed. In their place two air intakes were mounted to draw air onto the front brakes, the side glass was replaced with Plexiglas units featuring those famous sliding parts.
Once opening those trademark, upward opening doors, you can feast your eyes on what can only be called a cockpit, plain and simple … there was the necessary roll over cage, a special Sparco seat with full racing harness and a detachable steering wheel.
Naturally the Diablo SV-R also received some unique body features only found on this race car, like the deep front spoiler and side skirts, finished in black they further increase the intimidating, very low looks of the Diablo. The air intakes on the engine cover remained the same, but the SV-R got a massive, Carbon Fiber rear wing that was fully adjustable.
At the rear of the car the bumper was also removed and four very impressive ‘fins’ were mounted together with a central mounted, dual tip exhaust which actually was no more than an un-muffled megaphone system, stating this produced a thundering, loud exhaust tune was probably an understatement.
Since the Diablo SV-R sits so low on the tarmac, they had to install four air-jacks to lift the car when it arrived in the pits to replace the tires … there was simply no room to roll a trolley jack underneath this Lamborghini. When the wheels were removed you could admire the massive 355mm Brembo brakes at the front axle, while the rear axle received 335 mm slotted Brembo.
There are linear rate springs on the SV-R, wrapped around Koni 28-12 dampers at the front and Koni 28-11 ones at the back, suspension setup is comparable to the Diablo SV model, but twice as hard !
Talking about wheels and tires, the Diablo SV-R received two different wheels, these cars were introduced with special OZ-wheels but later these were replaced by Speedline wheels because the first ones tended to brake under all the power the Diablo SV-R was capable of putting on the massive rear 326/640 Pirelli. The front used 240/645 P Zero’s, who like the wide rear ones were purpose developed by Pirelli for the Diablo SV-R race cars in Europe. Some sources however state that 235/615-17 and 330/675-18 Dunlop racing slicks mounted on these Diablo SV-R models, but when I attended one of the races these magnificent SV-R’s were using Pirelli P-Zero slicks.
The Diablo SV-R was built together with the other Diablo, on the same production line. Only for the SV-R a specially built engine was mounted, a normally aspired V-12 without any turbochargers, but producing a healthy 540 Bhp, by altering the timing of the fuel injection system and using a variable valve timing system.
Note that work on these Diablo SV-R models didn’t start until February 1996, with an introduction in March 1996 at the Geneva Auto Show, and a first public race in June 14th at the famous Le Mans circuit were no less than 28 SV-R’s were present, and what’s more, they all finished too … making this a initial outing very special, it was even called the ‘zero faults operation’ afterwards. This meant that in a matter of only four months they built at least 28 race prepared Diablo SV-R’s !
It became obvious that the Lamborghini Diablo SV-R mono brand Trophy was well on it’s way to become a great success for Automobili Lamborghini SpA.
Nearly 10 years later these cars were still considered to be the ultimate Diablo, next to the later Diablo GT (and GTR) model the Diablo SV-R was still a popular car, several were used on tracks all over the world after the Lamborghini Supertrophy was held for four consecutive years, to be replaced by the GTR Supertrophy in 2000 which featured to more potent Diablo GTR race cars.
Especially Japan was a big market to obtain real Diablo SV-R cars and register them for road use, one even made it to the United States, the Diablo SV-R number 24/32 was painted in true United States colors and later received a complete Diablo VT 6.0 front which made it road legal, even in the US !
Several Diablo SV-R were converted for street use after they were ‘retired’ from the Supertrophy, some were even sold in their original state but with all the parts needed to convert to road cars as a package … it was not uncommon to see an SV-R being converted into a streetcar while the rear wing and rear fins were used on other models in the Diablo range, which clearly stated that the Diablo SV-R was a car that would be remembered into the future.