Thank you Santa !

20071210at115510_4b573daa96297-lightboxI had an itch once for a Ferrari 355 Spider, Tour de France blue, tan leather, manual… It lasted for a few months, never got round to scratching it as I didn’t have the funds at the time…

Back in the early ’90s, when I first saw the Diablo, I was awestruck by it. And how couldn’t you be? The successor to the legendary Countach, with pure lines, the awesome V12, the mystery around it… I had to have one.

Yeah right. A car costing 250.000 Euro in the early ’90s, and I was making my way through high school and university. Fat chance.

Fast forward 15 years. After a handful of legendary cars, albeit in a somewhat more budget-friendly class, like the mighty Impreza Turbo, an R33 Nissan Skyline GT-R Spec-V (a certain well known example in Midnight Purple, from the family of Yu), through the German phase with a BMW Z3 ///M, a Porsche 964 Convertible, and then I somehow found myself looking for yet another replacement…

My budget had grown over the years, and I had started frequenting Pistonheads classifieds, as well as other sites in Europe.

And then, just for the heck of it, I was wondering what Diablos were worth a couple of years ago… Fancy my surprise when it was only just over budget (it seems all cars you want are just over the budget you’re looking at).

So I started making appointments to look at cars, gathering information about them, and soon decided that what I needed, was an example that was mechanically sound, but slightly lacking in the cosmetic department. Paint is cheap, compared to a Lamborghini V12 engine.

So in late summer 2007, after seeing several horrid examples, I stumbled upon an ad on PH. A 1992 Diablo, but with the engine, gearbox and dash of the mighty SV.

After a few mails with the owner, a truly splendid chap I might add, it turns out the car has a history larger than a phonebook, he’d owned it for 11 years, and the original owner was from Belgium !

After checking up if the car was known, I got the thumbs up from about half the Lamborghini Club UK. “If he’s selling his Diablo, get it !” Thanks again for the help chaps!

I drove up to his house in December 2007, and over a cup of tea, he showed me the service history, and said “would you like to go out for a drive?”

If you’re ever asked out for a drive in a Diablo, make sure you have the means to buy one. Seriously. You’ll go nuts till you have one.

The first thing you notice, in the passenger seat, is how big it is inside. It’s very low, but it’s not a cramped cabin at all. Cue the V12 starting up. The huge smile you already had on your face goes out of proportion now… It’s so raw, so pure, it’s… perfect.

He took me around town, opened up the taps and woooooooo that was 100mph in no time. At this time, I was hooked. How could you not be. It still sends shivers down my spine just writing this down.

Over the next two weeks I took care of the administration and payment, and made arrangements to pick the car up on December 23rd.

After a horrendous trip to the west of London, via the lovely M25 on a monday morning, the time had come for the previous owner to part with his pride and joy… We went over the controls, gathered all the paperwork, he reversed the car out of the driveway for us, and with a last picture, I’m sure I saw a tear in his eye as I drove off into the sunset…

Now picture this: you’re driving your dreamcar for the very first time, 500+ horses on tap, it’s almost as wide as a bus, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road, in a place you don’t know, having just parted with all your hard-earned savings, you’ve just driven 600km to get there, and then you see a bus storming your way… That sure wakes you up!

After a pitstop at the local petrol station, we were soon on the M25 back to the Tunnel. Now that’s where you come to realise this is no ordinary motor. Even at low revs, this thing has enough torque to restart a planet, I kid you not! As Vicky Butler-Henderson once put it, it’s a wall of torque. I kept shortshifting to keep the revs down, but just feathering the throttle is enough to keep up with any rep-mobile or minivan on the road.

Once out on the open road, and more at ease, I began to take in all the things that make this car so great. It’s so alive, it’s – well just one way to put it – brilliant.

Looking around, passing any type of motor vehicle, with any type of person in it, they’re looking at you with mouths wide open. Of course you’re going to get noticed, I mean, it’s bright red, very low, extremely wide, even people who know nothing about cars know it’s a supercar. It being red, and this being just before Christmas, with all those happy faces, I couldn’t help but feel like Santa Claus. Cell phone cameras are coming out, kids with huge smiles against the windows, rolling them down to get a taste for the sound…

Talking about sound, it’s not even that loud while cruising. But once you give it some stick, the deepest bellow you’ve ever heard really comes out from the heart of the engine, and trust me, you can hear that just fine… It actually became my new favourite game, sneeking up to unsuspecting soccermoms in their minivans, then mashing the throttle at 2500rpm or so… This car brings out the devil in you (insert demonic laughter here)

Taking the junction to the M26, I have to slow down to merge, then I see my chance… Drop down 2 gears, 4000RPM in 3rd, foot down and OOOOOOH MYYYYYYY GODDDDDDD………. My passenger has to take a few seconds to come to his senses. Myself, I just can’t wipe the grin off my face. I’m going to enjoy this car, I just know it.

With the dense traffic we had on the M25, we’re running late for the Tunnel… Or rather, we were. It’s so comfortable, you don’t even notice how fast you’re going. So abiding all speed limits, sort of, we arrived with time to spare.

Over on the other side, we made our way through France and Belgium at extremely slow speed due to dense fog, and arrived safe and sound at home…

As my buddy drove off, I went back into my garage and just stared at it… Dreams do come true. And this one’s bloody brillant.

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Simon Malisse