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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Remembering to Lamborghini Canto Concept

The Lamborghini Canto was a prototype built by the famous Italian automaker Lamborghini and designed by the automotive styling firm Carrozzeria Zagato as an exercise to study potential designs for the Diablo's replacement.

Various versions of the Canto were shown to the then-president of Lamborghini but unfortunately, the project was canned and was not deemed suitable to wear the Lamborghini badge.
Lamborghini L147 Zagato Canto Concept previewed a possible Diablo successor. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1X2q1X)
First spotted in high-speed tests on the Nardo circuit in Italy, Lamborghini apparently had a problem with cooling down the big 6 Litre V-12 engine, the rear air intakes were terrifyingly big at the rear, however the speed was phenomenal. A rumoured top speed of about 350 kph was mentioned.

Since the Audi takeover of Lamborghini in June 1998, the tests moved a little faster, the Diablo successor, it was hoped would be ready for the 1999 production year at a suggested price of $250,000, production limited to only 400 units, all with rear wheel drive.

The original design for the Canto was done by Norihoko Harada of SZ designs, a novelty for Lamborghini, but after intial tests the rear end of the car had to be redesigned, the ugly oversized air intakes were to be replaced by smaller ones, probably incorporating some thermostatically controlled system to ram air into the engine compartment. The 'Naca' ducts on the side of some of the prototypes, were fakes and were expected to be removed on the production model.
Left side view of Lamborghini L147 Zagato Canto Concept. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1X2s6T)
Audi Chairman Ferdinand Piëch decided the 1998 Canto prototype was not what was expected of a Lamborghini, like the Diablo and the legendary Countach and Miura, so he halted the project. He was unhappy with the large, ugly rear air intakes and felt that the engine was not up to what should be expected of a pure supercar.

But during February 1999, the Lamborghini Design facility came up with a slightly modified Canto proposal. The front was facelifted, the headlight units remained almost identical, but the fog lights utilized more up to date poly-ellipsoïde technology. The turn indicators and driving lights were repositioned on top of the front wings instead of at the front of them as on the first Canto prototypes. However the biggest changes were the rear, the top mounted air intakes, now smaller and much better integrated into the sweeping lines of the Canto.
Rear side view of Lamborghini L147 Zagato Canto Concept. (Picture from: http://adf.ly/1X2rqb)
The complete engine was rethought, it remained the massive V12, with a 6.0 Litre displacement, but the engine management and the complete electronics were changed, and the first tests showed a power increase up to 640 hp. According to the official press release, which Automobili Lamborghini SpA published end of January 1999, the production unit would be detuned to 610 hp. This way the factory would be able to maintain the same maintenance schedule as they used for the 530 hp Diablo's.

In the same press release, Automobili Lamborghini SpA, stated this redesigned Canto prototype would be presented to the public at the 1999 Geneva Motor Show and the Diablo would remain in production for a further two years. These two years would be needed to get the Canto fully developed for production.

Several interior designs were created, but at this time nothing about the final looks had been revealed. However the 1999 Geneva Auto Show didn't have anything resembling the Canto on display, Automobili Lamborghini didn't get the green light from Ferdinand Piëch to show the nearly finished redesigned Canto from Zagato, and the project was finally canned.
It is rumoured a total of five Cantos were built, although some sources believe the same chassis was used for several of these prototype's, so it is probable that only three new chassis were built for the various Canto's. One of these prototypes, a black fully working example is believed to have been shipped to Japan and is now in the hands of a private collector.

Work then turned to a completely new project, with the Diablo eventually being replaced in late 2001 by the Murcielago without single one of Canto ever produced. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | CONCEPTCARZ | AUTOGUIDE]
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