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.
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.