This car had been spotted in high-speed tests on the Nardo circuit in Italy some time ago, while apparently they had a small problem with cooling down the big 6 Liter V-12 engine (the air scoops were terrifyingly big at the rear), the speed was phenomenal. A rumored top speed of about 350 Km/h had been mentioned.
First tests were performed with a 510 Bhp engine 'borrowed' from the Diablo SV type, but later the engine in this new car was replaced by a 6.0 Liter evolution of the Diablo SV-R block with about 600 horsepower to drive all four wheels. The same engine would be mounted in a Lamborghini Diablo GT2 race car, which by some sources will be entering several races in 1998, what will happen with the SV-R car is unknown.
Developing an engine pumping out over 600 horsepower should not be too difficult since the V-12 mounted in the Diablo SE30 Jota special did have 595 Bhp.
Several drawings where made before the original Canto design, which would lead to a running prototype, was ready, one of these was this rather special looking one, dating from around 1997 it clearly shows some Ferrari Testarossa influence in the side air intakes. Fortunately, this design was rather quickly dropped for a more exotic looking one.
The next, purple finished example was already somewhat underway to becoming the Canto, the big rear air intakes were present, although covered by vertical slats on this first drawing they would later be removed and big round intakes would come in their place as you can clearly see on the top drawing of the Canto just before a running prototype was built based loosely on this drawing.
Since the Audi takeover of Lamborghini in June 1998, the tests were moving a little faster, the Diablo successor, which may or may not be called Canto or even Accosta, would be ready for the 1999 production year at a suggested price of $250,000, production was going to be 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 initial tests the rear end of the car had to be redesigned, the ugly over sized 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 the car on the image of the grey car just below this text, were fakes and were to be removed on the production model.
However, during October 1998, Mr Piech judged the L147 project to lack the typical Italian look and the aggressive threat the Diablo had, he permanently shelved the project.
Several design companies had recently been contacted to propose new designs for the Diablo Successor, according to 'Der Spiegel', a German magazine, Mr Piech has given Lamborghini one year to come up with a suitable heir to the super car throne of the Diablo. This is a rather short period to develop a new prototype, and alter it to be suitable for production and sale to the public, hopefully Doctor Piech will not try to impose the VW W12 onto the Lamborghini factory and push the real Italian super car out of the way. We will just have to wait and see what will happen to Lamborghini under their latest owner ...
The original Canto design wasn't well received so it was modified again into this 1999 edition.
(added on September 18. 2008)