1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV Roadster, a unicorn bull, heads to auction


 

Lamborghini made only two Diablo SV Roadsters, and RM Sotheby’s is putting this one up for sealed auction running December 13-15. It’s not only a rarity, it’s a throwback to a time just 23 years ago that people who were there have to make an effort to remember. A time when Lamborghinis barely sold; Chrysler put the Lamborghini Diablo on the market in 1990, Audi took it off the market in 2001, Lambocars puts the entire Diablo run over those 11 years at around 2,500 cars including prototypes and factory specials. Today’s Lamborghini moved more than double that number in the first half of this year. The products back then also weren’t all that good; yes you could enjoy them, but you were going to sweat and work for it, and a yellow example was driven only by a tycoon or the loosest of cannons. This SV Roadster in Giallo over Nero “Torpedo” Alcantara with yellow piping has undoubtedly seen more pearls clutched than Oyster Bay. 

In 1995, just after Chrysler sold the Italian outfit, Lamborghini launched the Diablo VT Roadster, a convertible version of the all-wheel-drive Diablo VT, and the Super Veloce (SV) Coupe, a pared-back rear-driver with more power from the 5.7-liter V12 than in the standard Diablo VT. The new Malaysian and Indonesian owners wanted to lure more American buyers, so they funded development of an SV Roadster to be a lighter, lither RWD version of the AWD VT Roadster. Three years later, a Pearl Orange SV Roadster show car went on display at the Geneva Motor Show in 1998. U.S. dealers wanted the car. However, the Malaysian and Indonesian owners sold Lamborghini to Audi the same year, and Audi canceled all rear-wheel-drive projects.

A Milanese Lamborghini dealer asked Lamborghini’s CEO to make one more example; the CEO agreed. Having created market demand then stiff-armed it, Lamborghini dealers and distributors in various regions removed the AWD system from some VT Roadsters to create something like an SV Roadster. However, the SV Roadster show car and the example for the Milanese dealer are the only two factory-official SV Roadsters in existence. 

This one’s been in the hands of four European collectors and shows 42,842 kilometers (26,621 miles) on the odo. Its V12 makes 530 horsepower and 446 pound-feet of torque. Lots of spendy options on this one, including exposed carbon fiber for the roof and intake blades, the optional rear wing also in exposed carbon fiber, the front suspension lift system, and the sports exhaust. The manual transmission came standard.

The car comes with every accessory — the original Alpine stereo, original owner’s manuals and warranty book, the service book showing its most recent care in July 2023, two tool rolls, and a Certificate of Origin from Lamborghini Polo Storico — and tires with just 300 miles on them.

As for a value, that’s on request only. Sales coverage on Classic.com shows 1998 VT Roadsters and 1998 SV Coupes have been drawing auction bids and sales from $250,00 to about $470,000 over the past 18 months. Sothebys’ example can be expected to go appreciably higher.


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