Running with the Devil: Lamborghini Diablo VT Roadster by AutoArt
A story of video games and long time lust all wrapped up in a neat, 1/18 scale bow.
I have been a car fanatic since a very young age. In fact, my mother swears that the first authentic word out of my mouth was "Jeep" of all things. Whether or not it's true, I definitely found some sort of comfort in the four-wheeled contraptions that got me and my family to and from our destinations, so naturally, a love for the exotic would soon blossom.
My first flair with exotic cars was actually with Porsche. I've waxed poetic before about the 996 generation of the 911, how it was the first Porsche I ever truly laid eyes on and how I owned so many model variations, posters, etc., thoroughly rooting my love in that model in particular. But there was one day that changed my car enthusiasm life for the better. One day, back in 1999, my parents took me to the local Wal Mart and allowed me to pick out a PC game. My choice, drawn so by the display of a Porsche 993 Turbo on the display box, was none other than Need for Speed: High Stakes (known as Road Challenge in other countries).
One look at the car list for that game and you can quickly see why my taste in cars revolves around the turn of the century. The C5 Corvette, the E39 M5, the McLaren F1, and so many others that I've talked so fondly of before. But can you blame me? This was my first real exposure to a lot of these brands, and this game's heavy featuring of all of them left a long-standing impact that stands to this day. When you ask me what kind of car from any of these brands in this game I'd prefer, more than likely I'll answer with the ones featured in High Stakes.
That also extends to Lamborghini.
I was never the world's biggest fan of the raging bull, even as a kid. I much preferred that other Italian supercar manufacturer that ordered way too much red paint, but I digress. Maybe it's because I didn't truly grasp the concept of what made Lamborghinis so special until fairly recently in life. However, when I was younger, cars like the Countach and Murcielago just seemed fat and bloated, while Ferraris and Porsches were sleeker and more athletic. The Diablo, however, was the one I always had fondness for, stemming back to the aforementioned Need for Speed game.
The image of High Stake's Diablo SV will always stay imprinted in my memories. Despite the low-poly textures, the distinct wedge shape was profound and menacing, accented only by the loud "SV" graphics displayed on the door. That car will always be peak Lamborghini to me, which makes it quite odd when you consider the fact that the first Diablo I've purchased is not an SV, but a lower tier VT Roadster.
However, although the VT Roadster was not the insane lightweight thoroughbred that the SV was, it was still a significant car for the time, let alone for the long-standing line of Lamborghini supercar flagships. The "VT" in the name stood for "Viscous Traction" denoting the fact that this Diablo was fitted with all-wheel drive. The Diablo was one of the first supercars out of the gate in the 90s with all-wheel drive technology, which dialed back some of the lunacy of earlier models and assisted with more precise steering (to the chagrin of some purists, but it's subjective). The Diablo Roadster was also the first production V12 Lamborghini roadster (the Miura was made in a roadster configuration, but it remained a one-off design), which has been a tradition since its inception, as the Murcielago and Reventon that followed it also brought along topless models.
The main reason I ended up scoring this model over the others, however, is value, like everything else on here. I ended up paying somewhere around $95 for this particular model with a damaged box; pristine models can source anywhere above $130, so be wary on your searches. The model comes in two colors as far as I know, this one being Superfly Yellow, with a red also being available.
On the side of critiquing this model, I have to say that I'm pleased with this versus other AutoArts I've purchased recently. Since I've been kind of on a roll of cheaper, early run AutoArts due to the diverse selection of cars on offer, some of the quality has slid compared to the more recent offerings. But this Diablo really shows some of their heritage; if the early 2010s is the peak of AutoArt's quality and craftmanship, I want to say that this was the beginning of the road to that peak. The model is obviously die-cast metal, with a solid quality that feels so satisfying to the touch. Even though there are a few pieces on this model that you think would be brittle and easily broken, everything still feels solid to touch, from the opening doors to the removable roof.
Detailing is fairly spot-on as expected from AutoArt. It's actually becoming a favorite past-time to see what kind of crazy small details AutoArt will bring to the smaller scale. The interior features proper painting on the radio and gauge cluster. The gated shifter is beautifully crafted and finished in aluminum-look materials. The engine is by far my favorite thing to look at, however, beautifully crafted in metal with great printed detailing with the Lamborghini logo and even the firing order printed on top, just as true to the real article.
The iconic phone dial wheels even seem nearly photo-realistic, the perfect riveted three-piece design looks so immaculate.
I will always see the Diablo as a milestone for Lamborghini. Born of a time when the brand wasn't at the greatest, the Diablo proved that you can prevail even when the cards are down and against you. Everything this car represents, to me, is spectacular, and I'm glad to finally own one, even in 1/18 scale. Maybe someday, I'll get the real deal...but this will do for now.