There’s something about crossing the million-dollar threshold in terms of a collector car’s “arrival” as…
Is the Diablo GT the next million-dollar Lamborghini?
Lamborghini’s institutional memory resides in an enthusiastic 59-year-old engineer named Maurizio Reggiani. He is the company oracle, and a bit of a celebrity at the factory whenever he walks the halls.
Reggiani learned to make supercars from the masters. “I come from the area of Modena, and studied close to there,” he says. “It’s where, within 20 kilometers, we have all the super sports car companies in the world.” (Sorry McLaren.)
Paolo Stanzani, a father of the Lamborghini Miura, was a mentor. It was Stanzani who hired Reggiani away from his first job designing turbocharged engines for Maserati to work at Bugatti on the fledgling EB110 project.
“I think I was (Bugatti) employee number two… I asked Stanzani where I should start, and he told me, ‘Start where you want, we don’t have nothing.’”
Today, Reggiani is Lamborghini’s chief technical officer. He joined the company in 1998.
Reggiani can tell you, for example, that Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein approached the company and wondered “if it was possible to have a super-fast SUV that can move at more than 100 km/h on the sand and go mainly straight. They wanted to have a car that was really fast to control the borders. It’s clear, if you see the borders of Libya, it’s really straight for kilometres and kilometres on the desert, and only a vehicle that can be faster than anything else could do that job.”
Luckily, Reggiani added, that project didn’t go forward. It did, however, result in the LM002, nicknamed the Rambo Lambo.
“Everything was done, let me say, in a crazy way,” Reggiani says, speaking of the old days. “At this time, there was no simulation tools like today… It was a puristic approach: welding tubes, welding suspension arms, to build something that was really a kind of war-machine.”
Today, LM002 values are already on the rise. In 2013, #3 (Good) condition examples were going for $87,000. As of May 2018, they’re trading at $238,000.
“I know that due to the launch of the Urus, the value of LM002 exploded,” Reggiani says. “What we take in inspiration from the LM002 is that a brand like Lamborghini can do everything and can have excellence in everything.”
For those of us who missed the boat on the LM002, what does Reggiani think will be the next highly collectable car from Lambo’s back catalog? “The Diablo GT will be the car. Like the LM002, it’s also a limited production.”
Only 80 Diablo GTs were produced following its launch at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show. It was a road-legal version of the Diablo race car, featuring rear-wheel drive instead of all-wheel drive, new suspension geometry, lots of carbon-fibre, and an enlarged 6.0-litre V-12 engine breathing through 12 individual throttles fed by a roof scoop. Lamborghini claimed it was the fastest car in the world.
Owners who paid around $500 million Italian lira (just under $300,000) for a 1999 GT also got a matching carbon-fibre briefcase.
“Diablos generally have been on the rise over the past couple of years, with the best and lowest mile examples getting the most attention,” says Andrew Newton, Hagerty’s auction editor. He says several factors work in its favor: it’s a limited-production, V-12 supercar with a manual gearbox. “The Countach that preceded it has already had its time in the sun with a big run up in value over 2014–16, but prices have actually dipped since 2017.” In other words, it’s the Diablo’s turn.
In fact, it seems like word is already out among collectors. In 2015, there was one Diablo GT for sale with an asking price of $489,888. In 2016, the price of a GT had risen to around €720,000 (about $836,000). And earlier this year, at the Sotheby’s Monaco Auction, a mint 276-km GT sold for €815,000 (nearly $950,000).
The car is close Reggiani’s heart. He helped to convince Audi brass—who had just bought the company—that Lamborghini should make the special limited-edition Diablo. It wasn’t easy, he remembers. But, he says its success paved the way for the hyper-expensive limited editions that followed: Reventon, Veneno, Centenario.
“It’s the first (Lamborghini) where the price was completely beyond every kind of number,” he says. “When we launched the car, it was sold out immediately.”
The Diablo GT also has the distinction of carrying Reggiani’s favorite engine of all time. “With 12 single throttles, one for every cylinder, it had a response that was fantastic! It’s not the most powerful, it’s not the most clean, but it’s the most emotional… This engine was cool.”
If it’s good enough for Reggiani, it’s good enough for us.