autoevolution
 

This 1998 Diablo SV Roadster Is the World's Rarest Road-Legal Lamborghini

Meet the rarest road-legal Lamborghini and one of the rarest of all time. It is a Diablo SV Roadster that rolled off the production line in 1998, one of the two ever built examples with rear-wheel drive, SV styling, and removable roof.
1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster 36 photos
Photo: RM Sotheby's
1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster
Lamborghini unveiled the Diablo in January 1990 following a very costly and long development. The model designed by Marcello Gandini instantly went into production to keep up with the demand. It was the first Lambo capable of hitting a top speed of over 200 mph (320 kph). Little did the Italians know back then that they were sending a legend to the road.

The SV (Super Veloce) variant arrived in 1995 with the mid-cycle refresh with extra oomph. The 5.7-liter engine engine generated 510 horsepower (517 PS) and 428 lb-ft (580 Nm) of torque, all delivered to the rear axle.

It had more horsepower, but it was labeled as the entry level in terms of price, because it did not have the all-wheel drive of the VT and even slotted below the standard Diablo, because it had ditched the front diff. It was lighter, more engaging, more dynamic, more affordable, and subsequently, more desirable.

It was an open-top, driver-focused machinery, which mostly targeted the US market. It came with an adjustable rear spoiler as standard in either exposed carbon fiber or matching the body color.

1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster
Photo: RM Sotheby's
Lamborghini had repositioned the rear fog and reverse lamps, it featured black tail lamps surrounds, and an engine lid similar to the one that the Diablo SE30 Jota used to wear. Larger front brakes of 340 millimeters (13.4 inches), larger brake calipers, and larger 18-inch wheels were also on the menu. The model was also equipped with a new anti-lock braking system as standard, while the electronic suspension lifting system was optional, helping owners get over speed bumps or garage ramps.

But it wasn’t all milk and honey for the Diablo SV Roadster. Lamborghini greenlighted the project and then almost canceled it. Funds were limited, shareholders were divided, so the project was shelved after a single prototype had been built.

But then a hero showed up to save the day. Emanuele Conforti, lifelong Lamborghini enthusiast and owner of Milanese Lamborghini distributor Touring Auto saw the car and contacted the then-CEO of the brand, Vittorio di Capua. He was the one who commissioned a second and final Diablo SV Roadster. And we have it right here.

Thus, the model was ordered new by Milan-based Touring Auto in 1998. It rolled off the production line on April 6, 1998, finished to 1998 model-year specification, configured in left-hand drive, and its warranty card was issued on June 5, 1998.

1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster
Photo: RM Sotheby's
The matching-numbers example has been in the hands of several collectors over the years, all of them pampering it and keeping it away from the elements. And pretty much away from the road as well.

Tagged as one of the most special and exclusive road-going Lamborghinis of the modern era, chassis number WLA12960 is the last rear-wheel drive 12-cylinder Lamborghini to sport a V12 engine with a manual transmission and having a removable roof. The model is wears the striking combination of Roadster Giallo over Nero Torpedo Alcantara with complementary yellow piping and SV stitching.

Exposed carbon fiber covers the center console, while it also comes with matte exposed carbon fiber exterior elements such as the removable roof, side air intake blades, and a massive rear wing that works in the name of downforce and aerodynamics. The SV Roadster also has the desirable front suspension lifting system.

This car right here is unlike any other except for the prototype that was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show. In 2001, it was sold to a collector in Germany and marched through the collection of the Lamborghini enthusiasts. They all kept it away from the curious eyes except for some events organized by the International Lamborghini Owner's Club (ILOC), where, because of its rarity, it was quite a special guest.

1998 Lamborghini Diabo SV Roadster
Photo: RM Sotheby's
Later on, it was purchased by the current seller, another Lamborghini enthusiast, who mad an in-depth research into the history of the model. He reviewed the documentation and checked information with former employees of the factory in Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy. All the research came to confirm its rarity.

The car comes with a Lamborghini Polo Storico Certificate of Origin and the original Warranty Book, as well as owner's manuals, service book, and two tool rolls. It was last registered in Germany and has all European Union taxes paid. It can be imported to and registered anywhere in the world, the United States included.

The odometer reads 42,842 kilometers (26,621 miles). Less than 500 kilometers ago (311 miles), it received new tires, and last went through a service in June 2023. The model will be auctioned off in Germany at an event organized by Sotheby's Sealed. Estimate is available upon request. But those in search of a true icon, the rarest road-legal Lamborghini ever built, will come prepared.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram X (Twitter)
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories