Celebrity “Trumps” Reason in Ex-President’s World-Record Diablo VT Sale


To paraphrase the popular refrain from Zoolander, the greatest movie ever made about male models: “That Trump is so hot right now.”

The former president and current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican nomination has a unique tendency to dominate news cycles, and that makes him a magnet for observers far and wide. Last week, in Scottsdale, Arizona, that tendency reached a frenzy on the auction block at Barrett-Jackson, when Trump’s 1997 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster sold without reserve for $1,100,000, including the 10 percent buyer’s premium. It is a world record for the model.

The current Hagerty #1 (Concours) value for the very best of these Italian stallions is $506,000, so a result more than double that figure is noteworthy.

1997 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Trump profile

Just 132 Diablo VT roadsters came to these shores between 1997 and 1999. Trump special-ordered this one in ’97 in a pretty Blu Le Mans paint over a black and cream leather interior. As a final bit of personalization, a small “Donald Trump 1997 Diablo” plaque is affixed to the door. Like all Diablos of this ilk, the car is powered by a 5.7-liter 48-valve V-12 that makes 492 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Power is put to the rear wheels (and sometimes the front, thanks to that viscous traction system) through a five-speed manual transmission. Trump sold the Diablo in 2002, and it’s unclear how many miles he put on the car, but between his ownership and the two owners since, the odometer shows 15,431 miles.

This isn’t the first time a car once owned by Trump has come to auction. At its 2021 Kissimmee auction, Mecum sold his 2007 Ferrari F430 F1 coupe, which had also been purchased new by the real estate magnate. That car had no such custom touches, but Trump’s touch was enough to take the selling price to $330,000, more than 2.5 times the $121,000 #1 value at the time.

The effect of celebrity (a broad term, but for these purposes, we mean general “famousness”) ownership on collector car values is nothing new, of course. Witness any number of rock star–owned vehicles that have brought bigger-than-normal money at auction: Queen rocker Freddie Mercury’s 1974 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow, in merely #4 (Fair) condition, is a prime example. It sold in London in November 2022 for £286,250 ($340,500), though it was otherwise a $5000 car; this was a 3717 percent spike. Similarly, Princess Diana’s peppy but pedestrian 1985 Ford Escort RS Turbo, in #3 (Good) condition, sold for £722,500 ($873,000) in August 2022, when anybody else’s would have struggled to hit $30,000. And in 2015, RM/Sotheby’s sold the 400th and final Ferrari Enzo, a gift from the Italian carmaker to Pope John Paul II, for $6.05 million, against a #1 value at the time of $2 million. And he never even drove the thing!

1997 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Trump rear 3/4

Presidential cars—both their personal machines and the limos in which they were chauffeured—always have a certain appeal with collectors. After he left office, Harry Truman owned and drove a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe, an elegant ride perfectly suited to a former president’s daily runabouts. That car has been for sale via Classic Auto Mall for at least 18 months now, offered first at $83,500 and now reduced to $69,000. Although the Truman premium isn’t so striking as that of Trump’s Diablo, it’s still more than double our #2 (Excellent) valuation of $30,700. And, in November 2022, the 1964 Lincoln Continental convertible driven by LBJ at his Texas ranch sold on Bring A Trailer for $172,000. The figure was nearly $100,000 over our #2 value for a similar Conti without the presidential connection.

As in real estate, one important factor associated with any car’s ability to bring maximum bucks is location, location, location. Selling a car in the wrong place, at the wrong time, can severely impact its return. “This sale shows how much difference the right venue can make,” says Brian Rabold, Vice President of Automotive Intelligence at Hagerty. “Trump cars haven’t traded at such a high premium in the past, and this one reportedly sold on eBay in 2016, before he became president, for $460,000. Barrett-Jackson’s bidders were clearly the right audience for the Trump name.”

@thestradman Crazy price for a Diablo VT Roadster #Lamborghini ♬ original sound – TheStradman

Clearly. Video from the sale captures the electricity in the room as the car was quickly bid up past its average sale price and into record territory until it was SOLD! SOLD! SOLD! to raucous applause. Whether the buyer will ever be able to recoup the investment—or even make some profit—is anyone’s guess, but with the Trump name forever linked to this Blu Le Mans Diablo, we wouldn’t be surprised at any trajectory this car takes in the future.

1997 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster Trump low front 3/4 doors up
Click below for more about
Read next Up next: $50K Could’ve Brought Home Some Cool Cars From the January Auctions


    Just a math note. A car with an estimated value of $506,000 that sells for $1,100,000 has a 117% premium, not 217%.

    Hi JW, we’ve clarified/simplified the description there. $1.1m is 217% of 506k, but as you point out, the premium itself is on top of the #1 value. Thanks for the note.

    Suprised one of his unpaid contractors didn’t take a key to both sides of it, but he never tried to get in it, alone on it!

    Since taking the next defies all logic step in the celebrity car market from Seinfeld’s 993 ( see Hagerty “Whats the deal with this Porsche? “) – If this Diablo went for 1.1 how much do you think the Rolls Royce Melania videoed Trump driving while listening to Taylor Swift would go for today? Bizarro world.

    LOL!! I agree 100% on him fitting inside – would like to see video of him getting in & out of it. Also have trouble believing he knows how to shift a manual tranny.

    Whoever paid around 2X the going value for this Lamborghini because Trump owned it probably didn’t figure that 1) Trump probably only barely got into it once and then needed considerable help getting out, and 2) Trump likely didn’t know how to shift that manual anyway! Heck, he can barely enter/exit or drive a golf cart!

    Is that even a word?
    Infamous, wicked, abominable are more accurate.
    “Real estate magnate?”
    Criminal is more fitting.
    He needs the money to pay for his lawsuits and lawyers…
    How do I unsubscribe to this drivel.
    Thanks Stefan, for making my mind up.
    Sick to my stomach.
    What a tool.

    TDS is real. How many lives has that debilitating disease ruined so much future happiness for those who suffer from it.

    I’m sure he only bought it as an investment, as noted above, he could barely fit in it and I doubt he could even drive a stick.

    Saw an interview where Trump answered the question of what he missed most as president and he said it was driving himself. He also appears to be the only thing in Washington standing up for gas cars.

    The U.S. is “now the largest producer of petroleum”, in the world. Biden has an “all American 67 Corvette Sports Car”, that burns gas and has actually drove it. Buy American

    It is amusing to read some of the anti-Trump comments. If only they would consider that Mr. Biden and his administration would like to banish automobiles that use gasoline including fossil fuel usage as a whole. He is not an ally of anybody in this hobby.

    Rest assured that whatever happens in Washinton regarding the auto industry id due to auto industry lobbyists. All car makers would LOVE to leave the gas engine and their emissions behind. Auto emissions are a huge part of car costs along with the engines themselves plus the required transmissions with all their granny gears. Just look on your garage floor for some of the other issues.

    I have heard a green Corvette from Delaware will be auctioned off soon, comes with complete top secret documentation that was found in the garage. A true barn find.

    Getting back to this car ..if we can..I freely admit I’m not a big fan of the post Muira era, though the early Countachs have a something . Still if you look at the doors open pic of this Diablo the trademark scissor doors look as though they were done with a Sawzall and might as well have come from an aftermarket kit for a Camry. Where the Muiras bullhorn doors were considered this looks like a ‘just go out there and get it done approach’. Being that both cars are dated in the supercar market which would you rather have? I just don’t think the Diablos design has held up in the styling department over the years. It has that the more vents and… outlandish look that a Barris car might have. Only there it’s somewhat forgiven because ‘Hey hey it’s the Monkees!” . So, as they say. life is too important to take seriously.

    I’m surprised I haven’t seen a Fox news clip yet with this blowhard spouting, “..many people say…sir…this is the greatest sale of an automobile the world has ever known…they literally have tears in their eyes.”

    And I thought this was about cars not political statements or how this guy is maniac, or the other is incompetent. It is sad that our country has become so divided and don’t fool yourself it is both sides. I remember a country on 9/11/2001 when we were attacked by a real enemy and our country came together. That my friends by the same enemy of hatred will happen again. Will we unite again to fight a foreign enemy….one can only hope.

    To bring you up to speed, the number of domestic enemies has increased substantially. Frankly, it’s refreshing to see most of the commentary is derisive to the actual players and not each other within our group of car lovers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *