Monday, October 31, 2011

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1999 Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster

As a boy growing up in the 1990s, I had my share of supercar posters. Porsche 993, Ferrari F355. I collected models of my favorites as well, some of the more stratified exotics. Ferrari F50, Jaguar XJ220, Dodge Viper RT/10. But few came close to the Lamborghini Diablo in terms of insane performance, instant name recognition and sheer curb presence. It was to the schoolboy of the '90s what its older brother, the Countach, was to the kids of the '80s.

It's hard to believe that the Diablo came into being while Lamborghini was owned by Chrysler Corporation. (Almost as hard to believe as Chrysler now being owned by the company that owns Ferrari and Maserati, the latter of which once had a joint-venture with Chrysler in the form of the LeBaron-based TC by Maserati, but I digress.) Designer Marcello Gandini had clear plans for the new Lambo's design direction, but Chrysler executives made him soften the car's lines. It was, after all, a car for a different decade than the angular Countach. The end result was a slightly rounded, wedge-shaped, 200-mph supercar that looked fantastically modern, exotic from every angle and featured Countach-style scissor doors. Even today it's a stunning car.

If memory serves, I spotted this 1999 Diablo VT while on break from my evening class on Post Street near Union Square. I whipped out my camera and went crazy trying to capture every amazing detail of the car, fittingly parked in a loading zone which I assume was pole position for the valet stand at the fancy Farallon restaurant. It's not just an all-wheel-drive Diablo VT, it's a late-model with the exposed headlights (sourced from a Nissan 300ZX). Oh yeah, and it's a Roadster to boot. Fantastic. I always hated the driving dynamics of the rear-wheel-drive, more powerful Diablo SV in Need For Speed: High Stakes, and as I understand it the Diablo was never really built to handle as well as it drove in a straight line. It seems fitting to use the image and name of a fighting bull on a car that does its best to kill you. But God, just look at it.

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