When Ferruccio Lamborghini started his car company he made it very clear that he had very little interest in competing with the likes of Ferrari and Porsche on the race track. He felt that motorsports were just a “financial sinkhole” and that money could be better spent making his cars the best “street cars” they could possibly be. However, that’s all slowly started to change after he left the company. A few models were released that were track focused with the intentions of racing. One example is this gorgeous bright orange Diablo GTR.
Technically, the first “track-only” Lamborghini was the Diablo SV-R which debuted in 1996 at the Geneva Salon. It was essentially just a standard Diablo SV that had been stripped of everything non-essential to make it as light as possible. It was the car that laid the groundwork for what we know today as the Super Trofeo series, though at the time it was called the Lamborghini SuperTrophy Series. The popularity of this Lambo only racing series quickly caught on and it’s since developed into a highly competitive race program that’s held all over the world.
The Diablo SV-R was Lamborghini’s go to model for the SuperTrophy race series for roughly four years. But once the 2000 season came around, they felt it was time to debut a completely new car and this is where the Diablo GTR enters the picture. It’s based on the Diablo GT which was already a more track-focused version of the standard Diablo. Only 80 examples of the GT were built, all of which were technically sold in Europe even though a few examples did make it stateside.
The Diablo GTR was taken even further than the GT models. It’s lighter and more powerful, which made it a formidable opponent out on the race track. Everything was stripped from the interior of the car, including all the creature comforts like a stereo and air conditioning. Lamborghini took the weight saving very seriously. They even removed all the glass from the car and replaced it with solid Plexiglas with small sliders to give the driver a small breeze of fresh air. Even all the sound and heat proofing material was removed which likely made it sound like a rocket ship when sitting inside it, regardless of the fact that it was probably quite literally hotter than hell inside. The only things that remained inside the car was a single seat fitted with a 6-point racing harness, a MOMO brand fire suppression system and steering wheel as well as a fully integrated roll cage.
Another feature that was installed on the Diablo GTR to make it more of a “race car” was a pneumatic air jack system that was similar to the one carried over from the SV-R. While that doesn’t example follows suit with the whole weight savings plan, engineers didn’t have much of choice because the cars sat so low to the ground, a rolling jack would never fit under it. So when it came time for the cars to get a tire change in the pits, all the crew had to do was hook up an air hose and bam, the car was lifted to the perfect height. This is something that’s fairly standard on race cars nowadays, but it’s was pretty cool to see back then.
The GTR used the same 6.0L V12 you saw in the standard road-legal GT, only it was beefed up a little bit. In stock form, the GT was rated at 575hp and 465lb-ft of torque and the GTR only saw a small gain of 15hp and 10lb-ft. But you have to keep in mind the drastic weight savings, that alone would’ve made a significant difference in the overall performance between the GT and GTR. So that added power, as small as it may have been, still would’ve been noticeable to those that spend a great deal of time behind the wheel.
It’s slightly crazy to think that even with all this racing technology, the Diablo GTR would get its doors blown off by any one of the current Lamborghini models, track focused or not. But would the new cars have the same heritage and would they provide the same nostalgic feeling as the older Diablo GTR’s. This bright orange model, for example, it was used throughout the 2002 season and even though only 30 GTR’s were built, it still sits in what appears to be pristine condition. It’s hard to say how much the car is worth, but the experts at RM Sotheby’s expect it to sell for well over $700,000 at an upcoming auction.