Back in 1996, Lamborghini’s lineup looked a lot different than it does now. Two years before being acquired by the Volkswagen Group, the ailing Italian brand was building a single model, the Diablo.
But at the 1996 Geneva Motor Show, Zagato presented a vision for a new Lamborghini model. It was called the Zagato Raptor and it was a concept car built in collaboration with Lamborghini that used Diablo VT running gear. Nearly 300 kg (661 lbs) lighter than the AWD Diablo VT, the Zagato Raptor envisioned a limited-production model intended to bridge the gap between the Diablo and its subsequently stillborn successor, the Lamborghini Canto.
In the end, neither the Canto nor the Raptor saw the light of day as the VW Group had other plans for a Diablo successor after acquiring Lamborghini in June 1998. Therefore, the Zagato Raptor Concept has remained a one-off effort – one that you can actually buy, that is.
It will be offered at the RM Sotheby’s Abu Dhabi auction on November 30 where it is expected to fetch between $1 million and $1.4 million. Looking significantly more futuristic than the standard Diablo, the Raptor was styled using Zagato’s new computer-aided design equipment.
Actually, it was one of the very first cars to be designed entirely by a digital design and manufacturing process which meant that there was no need to produce a single scale model. As a result, the Zagato Raptor went from a clean sheet design to a fully-functioning prototype in under four months.
Created under the guidance of chief designer Nori Harada, the Raptor featured striking aesthetics including the lack of doors – the body hinged at the front and the entire middle section of the car pivoted forwards to allow access to the futuristic interior swathed in dark grey Alcantara.
The roof section was equally interesting as it featured Zagato’s trademark ‘double bubble’ design and was removable, turning the Raptor into a roadster. The body also hinged at the rear in a similar fashion to the Ferrari F40, revealing the engine bay where the Diablo VT’s 492 PS (485 HP) dual overhead-cam, quad-valve 5.7-liter V12 lurked.
It was mated to same six-speed manual transmission and an all-wheel-drive system from the Lambo – including the same viscous center differential that made the Diablo VT more manageable than its RWD siblings. The massive weight reduction compared to the Diablo was achieved thanks to the tubular space-frame chassis, carbon-fiber body shell, magnesium wheels, stripped-out interior, and lack of fixed doors.
The Raptor was said to cover the 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) sprint in under 4 seconds and top out at over 200 mph (322 km/h). Stopping power was ensured by Alcon calipers paired to oversized brake discs. Needless to say, unique cars like the Zagato Raptor very rarely cross the auction blocks so we can expect an interesting bidding war on November 30.