The Zagato Raptor was yet another Lamborghini powered super car, redesigned by the renowned Zagato Styling Center in Italy, it was basically Zagato’s partner, Alain Wicki in association with Automobili Lamborghini SpA, who decided to create the stunning Raptor.
With it’s special construction for entering the car, the entire front windshield and most of the roof part and the side ‘doors’ tilted upward to allow easy access to the futuristic two-seat alcantara interior, the car attracted a lot of attention during it’s introduction to the public on the 1996 Geneva Auto show.
Zagato used it’s then brand new CAD/CAM equipment to develop this stunning prototype in less than four months, without ever building a traditional scale model. The chassis was a tubular box-section unit mounted underneath a stylish, aggressive looking bodywork, completed by a very exciting interior layout. The final exterior styling was created in close partnership between Andrea Zagato, Alain Wicki and Zagato’s chief designer Nori Harada.
Alain Wicki intended to produce the Raptor in a limited production run of 50 units, and it could sell rather well according to the response at the Geneva Auto Show, rumours state three Raptor’s where already sold when the Auto show in Geneva closed it’s doors.
A very niece feature of the Raptor was the ability to convert the coupe in a roadster or in a single-seater race car just by replacing the ‘double-bubble’ roof, which is a Zagato trademark, by either a two-seater barchetta cover or a special light-weight unit covering the passenger seat to create a mono-posto kind of race car.
Naturally this car was basically a two-seater only, build on a tubular steel chassis with a Carbon Fibre bodywork, and used a Diablo VT engine and drive train to offer full four wheel drive, this already powerful V-12 engine was pushed to 620 Bhp on the Raptor by installing a Z-Engineering compressor on it, this compressor was to become an option on the final production car.
Since the Raptor, with the closed roof installed, still was about 300 Kg lighter than a standard Diablo VT, it could quickly outrun just about anything on the road at that time, while the interior was very Spartan it still had air-conditioning as standard.
But power has to be able to stop too, so the Brembo brake system was replaced by Alcon calipers on massive disc brakes covered by large 18 inch diameter magnesium wheels. The ABS and traction control systems from the Diablo weren’t used anymore, so the Raptor became quite an athlete, a true car for the very few among us who can tame a wild bull like this. Alain Wicki, a former race car driver himself was convinced a system without ABS could slow down a race car much faster than one using an electronic ABS system, a statement which is very true … if you know what you are doing.
Pricing was never set, but you could surely count on a price higher than a ‘normal’ Diablo price sticker, unfortunately the Raptor never made it into actual production.
The Raptor was shipped to Automobili Lamborghini SpA after the Geneva Auto Show and several tests were performed with it showing the extremely good driveability of the Raptor and handling which was surely up to the normal high Lamborghini standards but several reasons were given as to why Automobili Lamborghini didn’t want Zagato to actually build the Raptor after all.
The major reason it should have been built was given by Mr Wicki himself, it would be a great car to bridge the gap between the Diablo and it’s successor, the Canto. But Automobili Lamborghini didn’t like the idea of the Canto which was also being designed by Zagato at that time to look like a redesigned Raptor so they decided to give the Diablo one final redesign before the Canto would take over.
Later Zagato was dropped as the Canto designer and Bertone was called in to design the successor to the very popular Diablo so actually the Raptor could have been built after all, Alain Wicki even tried to produce the Raptor himself, with help of Zagato naturally, but he also decided to keep the fascinating Raptor a unique prototype after all.
Some time after the Geneva Auto Show the Raptor was displayed at Pebble Beach, celebrating the Zagato name, after that it returned to the SZ Design centre in Italy, the actual car was now owned by Alain Wicki and not by Zagato.
This exclusive 1996 Zagato/Lamborghini Raptor prototype was auctioned by Brooks Europe during the March 2000 Geneva Auto Show.
Closing bid for this one-of-a-kind automobile reached 360,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) or $216,371.88 USD, less than the current price of a new Diablo. A rather low price for this very rare car but a great opportunity for the happy new owner, the car was shipped to the United States were it is now located in a private collection.
Raptor specifications :
Wheelbase : 2650 mm Length : 4380 mm Width : 2020 mm Height : 1095 mm Weight : 1350 Kg
Engine type : DOHC V-12 mid mounted, four wheel drive Displacement : 5700 cc Max. power : 492 Bhp at 7000 rpm (620 Bhp with the compressor installed) Max. Torque : 580 Nm (428Lbs Ft.) at 5200 rpm
Tyres : P-Zero front 245/35ZR18 – rear 335/30ZR18 Top speed : over 330 Km/h.