VALENTINO BALBONI is driving the Diablo GT. I’m strapped in alongside, approaching a 90-degree right in the flat fields near Lamborghini’s factory at a ridiculous velocity. He uses the dirt dragged onto the road by a tractor to set the car sliding and then glides through the corner on a trailed throttle.
A police Alfa 156 comes the other way, the two carabinieri officers mouths a perfect o. “They don’t bother us,” says Balboni with a casual wave of the hand. “They know me,” he grins.
I probably didn’t realise how special that opportunity was, to ride with Balboni and later drive what was probably the angriest Lamborghini road car ever built. After the Lamborghini Diablo came the more mannered Murcielago; still potent but lacking that unhinged side to its personality that had distinguished/disgraced (delete according to taste) 20th century V12 Lambos.
And the GT was wild. Audi had just acquired Lamborghini and launched the excellent 6.0-litre VT versions of the facelifted Diablo, but the GT was lighter, thanks to composite and aluminium body panels, and more aggro, with a 110mm wider front track width and an engine that featured a revised intake system, a reworked exhaust, titanium conrods and a lighter crankshaft. Suddenly here was a car with performance to eclipse a Ferrari’s F50, making it one of the very fastest production cars on the planet.
It was rare, too. While you can’t go anywhere without tripping over one of the 349 F50s that came out of Maranello, but the production run of the Diablo GT was, officially at least, just 80. Offered in either the hero orange, silver, black or yellow, the GT could be specified with longer gearing lifting top speed from 338 to 346km/h. As the airbox completely blocks rear visibility, Lamborghini even offered a spoiler-mounted rear-view camera option.
In truth, the Diablo GT was a car too good to be shared among a mere 80 collectors. And Balboni? Unbelievably, he did get away with that one, although, as we later learned, there were occasions when the plod turned up at the factory for a chat. For better and worse, they don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
Lamborghini Diablo GT specs
Engine: 5992cc V12, DOHC, 48v
Power: 429kW @ 7300rpm
Torque: 630Nm @ 6500rpm
0-100km/h: 3.8 seconds
How are you finding our new site design? Tell us in the comments below or send us your thoughts at email@example.com.
The world's most thrilling performance car magazine. Delivered to your door each month.
Lamborghini hails Countach as ultimate design muse
Iconic supercar celebrates its 50th anniversary
How the Diablo replaced the Countach and saved Lamborghini
Born from adversity, the Diablo cemented Lamborghini's future as a modern car maker
Is the new Huracan STO the greatest Lamborghini ever?
Lamborghini lets its Huracan road-racer off the leash