Bertone created the most spectacular Lamborghini’s ever, the Miura, the Espada and the Countach, but the Bertone designers also created a few ‘special’ Lamborghini’s, the Bravo was one of them and the Athon which was presented on the 1980 Turin Motor Show, was the next.
It was designed by Marc Deschamps, who became Marcello Gandini’s successor, and was based on the Lamborghini Silhouette basics. The Athon was however fully functional and the press even had a chance to drive it.
Lamborghini Athon History
The Athon, a name taken from an ancient Egyptian sun god, which means something like ‘Hymn to the Sun’, became an instant success. The public and the critics loved its spectacular look, the clear lines of the nose, the large curved windscreen, which was also the only protection for the driver because there was absolutely no top on this dream car, and the clever design of the engine hood. It incorporated the air filter in a very graphic form, just before this hood a small luggage compartment was located, even the design of the wheels was praised, they even returned on the Jalpa much later. The interior was very futuristic, with the controls located on satellite’s like in a Citroën, and a very stylistic gear shift lever. The steering wheel completely blended in with the dashboard and the electronic readouts were just a bit too futuristic at the time. It was completely upholstered in a beige/brown leather.
At this time Automobili Lamborghini was in great difficulty. the attempted takeover by Neumann and co. didn’t prove a success, and the company went into liquidation. The future of the company didn’t look too shiny, but also the market for open top sport cars wasn’t very bright looking. Therefore the introduction of the Athon came as a surprise, more so because it was based on the Silhouette which was had been out of production for three years.
The Athon gave the name Lamborghini a new impulse, the name was again talked about all over the world, mostly because the Athon became lots of attention in the automotive press.
The Athon is now located in the Bertone museum, along with several other dream cars, but the design of the rear deck would reappear much later on the Jalpa Speedster prototype.
On February 28th, 1980, Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini was declared bankrupt and was put into receivership. At this time, the two most important Lamborghini dealers in the world, Romano Bernardoni’s Emilianauto in Bologna and Achilli Motors in Milan, financed the construction of the cars they needed by paying them in advance. In July 1980, the factory was entrusted to Patrick Mimram’s management, and on May 23rd 1981, the courts of Bologna decided on the sale of the factory for Lit. 3.850.000.000 to Mr Mimram, who renamed it to Nuova Automobili Ferruccio Lamborghini.
On May 21, 2011, the unique Lamborghini Athon was auctioned for $487,000 by RM Sotheby during the prestigious Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este event. Straying from the brand’s traditional bull-themed nomenclature, the Athon’s name is inspired by the Egyptian sun deity, signifying a “Hymn to the sun.”
The Lamborghini Athon is based on the Lamborghini Silhouette chassis and features a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout. Here are some key aspects of the car:
Engine: The Athon is powered by a 3.0-liter V8 engine, which is the same engine used in the Lamborghini Silhouette. The engine produces approximately 260 horsepower and 237 lb-ft of torque. It features a DOHC (double overhead camshaft) design and is naturally aspirated.
Transmission: The car is equipped with a 5-speed manual transmission, which was standard for most sports cars during that era.
Design: The Lamborghini Athon showcases a striking and futuristic design, thanks to the collaboration with Bertone. The car has a wedge-shaped body, with sharp angles and flat surfaces, which was typical for Italian supercars of the 1980s. The Athon is a convertible with a targa-style removable roof panel.
Interior: The Athon’s interior is quite minimalistic and features a futuristic digital dashboard, which was ahead of its time. The car has two bucket seats and a compact cabin.
Performance: Although no official performance figures were released for the Lamborghini Athon, considering its engine and lightweight design, it can be estimated that the car could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in around 6 seconds, with a top speed close to 160 mph.
Interior & Exterior Design
The Lamborghini Athon’s exterior design is an elegant combination of sharp lines, futuristic curves, and aerodynamic shapes. The car showcases the design language of the 1980s with some aspects that would later be found in the Countach and Diablo. The low-slung profile and the angular, wedge-like appearance of the car made it a standout during its time.
Pop-up headlights: The Athon features a pair of pop-up headlights that contribute to its sleek look.
Targa-style roof: The Athon does not have a traditional roof; instead, it has a targa-style removable roof panel, allowing for an open-top driving experience.
Side air intakes: Large air intakes are positioned on the sides of the car to provide cooling for the mid-mounted engine.
Angular rear design: The rear of the Athon showcases a combination of sharp angles and minimalistic lines, contributing to its futuristic look.
The interior of the Lamborghini Athon is a reflection of the 1980s, featuring a minimalist design language and an emphasis on ergonomics. The cabin layout is driver-focused, with a cockpit-like environment that is aimed at providing the driver with the utmost control over the vehicle.
Some noteworthy interior design features include:
Digital instrument cluster: The Athon’s dashboard features a digital instrument cluster with futuristic, electronic displays for the speedometer, tachometer, and other essential information.
Center console: The center console is angled towards the driver, housing controls for the car’s various functions, including the climate control system and the audio system.
Two-tone leather upholstery: The seats and interior panels are covered in two-tone leather, providing a luxurious and comfortable driving experience.
Bucket seats: The Athon features sporty bucket seats that are designed to keep occupants secure during spirited driving.