Holy Bull: 1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV Fails to Sell at $435,000

Though Lamborghini isn’t as snobbish as some other exotic brands, just having some money isn’t enough to get one. Firstly, if you want a brand-new one, there’s a year-long waiting list. Secondly, if you want a classic or near-classic Lamborghini, you don’t need ‘some’ money—you need a lot of money. And that doesn’t just apply to the OG Countach. It also applies to the 1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV that recently didn’t sell on Cars & Bids.

The Lamborghini Diablo SV is the super-fast (literally) RWD version of the last pre-Volkswagen Raging Bull

A yellow-and-black Lamborghini Diablo SV with its doors and frunk open on a lawn
An opened-up Lamborghini Diablo SV | Martyn Lucy/Getty Images
1995-1999 Lamborghini Diablo SV
Engine5.7-liter V12
Horsepower510 hp (1995-1998)
529 hp (1999)
Torque428 lb-ft (1995-1998)
446 lb-ft (1999)
TransmissionFive-speed manual
Curb weight3373-3474 lbs
0-60 mph time3.9 seconds (1999)

Since 1998, Lamborghini has been under Audi’s stewardship, hence why the Urus has so much VW Group DNA. But shortly before Audi stepped in, Chrysler briefly held Lamborghini’s reins as the Italian brand labored to replace the iconic Countach. That successor arrived in 1995: the Lamborghini Diablo.

Although designed under Chrysler’s gaze, the Diablo is a ‘real’ Lamborghini. For one, its mid-mounted V12’s roots date back to the first Lamborghini, the 350GT. Also, it has outrageous looks and the requisite scissor doors. In addition, it came exclusively with a gated five-speed manual. And like the Countach, the Diablo has a steel-tube frame.

However, unlike the Countach, the Diablo actually saw the inside of a wind tunnel, hence why its aluminum-and-carbon-fiber body is sleekier. Furthermore, its leather-lined interior is far more spacious and livable than the Countach’s cabin. And in later VT form, it was the first Lamborghini since the LM002 SUV to feature all-wheel drive.

The Lamborghini Diablo SV, though, doesn’t have AWD; like today’s most extreme Lambos, the SV is RWD-only. It does, though, have 18 more horsepower than the base model, hence its moniker: ‘Super Veloce,’ or ‘super speed.’ And it got even more powerful in 1999 when it became the new base Diablo. Fortunately, this 202-mph Italian missile has enlarged brakes with extra cooling and an adjustable rear spoiler to keep it under control. ABS, though, wasn’t available until 1999; early ones didn’t even have power steering.

That just contributes to the Lamborghini Diablo SV’s old-school supercar thrill, though. It’s just you, that beautiful gated manual, and a torquey 7500-rpm V12 barking behind your ear. Yet it doesn’t punish you the way a Countach does. The seats are surprisingly comfortable, the pedals aren’t positioned awkwardly, and the suspension soaks up bumps well. And that means you can delight in the communicative steering, brilliant engine, and overall spectacle of this machine even longer.

How did this 1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV not sell at $435,000 on Cars & Bids?

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Experiencing those delights, though, takes quite a chunk of change. And it seems no Cars & Bids shopper had enough to pick up the 1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV that was recently listed on the site. Even with a $435,000 final bid, the SV failed to meet its reserve.

Although the reserve price isn’t known, there are several reasons why the seller put it above $435K. Firstly, this 1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV has multiple desirable features. Besides the extra power and adjustable spoiler, it has a limited-slip differential, Brembo brakes, OZ Racing wheels, adjustable shocks, carbon-fiber interior trim, and a front-axle lift system. Also, it has pop-up headlights, which disappeared after 1998.

In addition, apart from some spoiler risers, a repainted front bumper, and a battery cut-off switch, it’s stock. Plus, its only flaws are some seat wear, a few rock chips, and cracked exterior door-lock bezels. Furthermore, this 1998 Lamborghini Diablo SV has extensive service records, not to mention plenty of recent maintenance.

However, the biggest reason why $435,000 wasn’t enough to win this Diablo is that these cars are simply worth more now.

Diablos are going for how much right now?

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Just a few years ago, you could find Lamborghini Diablos for under $200,000. No, that’s not cheap per se, but it’s not unreasonable for a supercar. But like many other 1980s and 1990s sports cars and supercars, the Diablo’s market value is going up.

Today, a good Lamborghini Diablo SV is worth almost as much as a Countach. Admittedly, a good-condition 1998 SV is usually a $250,000-$364,000 car, Hagerty says. However, a pristine one can easily command over $500,000 at an auction. And a flawless final-year 6.0-liter one can cost over $600,000.

As it turns out, ‘SV’ might not just stand for ‘super veloce.’ It might also stand for ‘super valuta’: ‘super currency.’

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