|Lamborghini entered the 1990s under the ownership of the American Chrysler Corporation, and entered the twenty-first century in the hands of Germany's Audi AG. In between, it had been briefly owned by an Indonesian company. Yet the aims of this company, formed as an independent in 1963, remained identifiably the ones which Ferruccio Lamborghini himself had established in the beginning.
This period began with the arrival of the Diablo. Thinking about a replacement for the Countach had begun as early as 1985, but Lamborghini's precarious financial state had hindered progress. Marcello Gandini had been assigned to create the car's looks, but his early proposals did not meet with Chrysler's approval (and one of them was diverted to another company, emerging as the Cizeta V16T). His third attempt was reworked at Chrysler's own studios, and it was this which emerged as the Diablo.
A quad-cam V12 had been the staple of Lamborghini's range ever since the beginning, and its latest variant went into the Diablo. Less brutal in appearance than the Countach and Jalpa of the previous decade (much to the regret of many enthusiasts), the Diablo established a new style for the marque and, as is the way with supercars, was gradually developed over the years into a number of different variants. The same engine was used in the LM002 off-road machine, but slow demand led to production of this being stopped in 1992.
The mid-1990s saw work begin on a replacement for the smaller Jalpa, but the Canto (under development with Zagato) did not meet with Audi approval and the German company cancelled it shortly after buying Lamborghini. Instead, it turned its attention to two new cars: the larger one was to become the Murciélago and the smaller the Gallardo. Both would have styling by Luc Donckenwolcke, assigned to Lamborghini from Audi's own styling department.
Audi had entered the picture in 1997, when Lamborghini had approached them about using their new 4.2-litre V8 in a forthcoming sports model. Audi took an interest, and a year later bought the company which was - as so often in its turbulent history - in dire financial trouble. The first job was a makeover of the Diablo, done by Donckenwolcke, and this anticipated the way future Lamborghinis would look. The new big Lamborghini appeared in 2001 with a 6.2-litre derivative of the evergreen V12, and the new "smaller" car was announced in 2003 as the Gallardo. Styling had been initiated by Fabrizio Giugiaro (but was retouched by Donckenwolcke) and the car was built around a 500 bhp V10 engine built by Cosworth and developed from the Audi V8. There were hopes of selling up to 1200 a year of these cars - huge volumes by the standards of 40 years earlier.
It is in the nature of supercars that they are dream machines - and many of the people who buy this book will, sadly, only ever be able to dream of owning a Lamborghini. This book, though, will certainly make those dreams more vivid.