Lamborghini Athon, the convertible sci-fi prototype

Bertone designed the company’s most revolutionary cars: the Miura and the Countach. With its always so futuristic style, in 1980 the Italian coach company presented an equally groundbreaking prototype at the Turin Motor Show, but it was never manufactured. Today little remembered, the Lamborghini Athon It was a mid-engined convertible with an exterior and (especially) interior so futuristic that it astonished the world at the time. And they inspired science fiction for a decade.

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In the early 1980s, Lamborghini was in the worst crisis in its troubled history. In fact, it was on sale. Hence Bertone created this supercar on his own initiative, in homage to the work done years before under the guidance of Ferruccio Lamborghini. And he didn’t just show off his aesthetic prowess, he produced a fully functioning prototype. Marc Deschamps, Marcello Gandini’s successor at Bertone, relied on the Silhouette, adding his 3-liter V8 engine that delivered 260 hp and 321 Nm of torque.

And the movement achieved its goal. The press and the public of the time were amazed by the Lamborghini Athon. They praised the straight lines of the front, the curved windshield that wrapped around the driver, the impressive shapes of the very long rear hood… Even the way the wings and doors wrapped around the wheels attracted attention.

But the most striking thing was inside, where the occupants were in a fairly forward position. Starting with a very curious steering wheel, which seemed to float, as it did not have spokes and its connection point with the steering shaft blends in with the brown leather dashboard. The instrumentation was on a long electronic panel, well ahead of its time (in fact, reminiscent of some current screens). And the auxiliary controls were in a ‘pod’ that also ‘floated’ next to the steering wheel. The rest of the interior was full of buttons and speakers, very much in the style of the 80s. By the way, it had a small trunk between the seats and the engine.

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The Athon (named after the Egyptian sun god, for being a convertible) did not save Lamborghini. After all, it was a ‘one-off’. But maybe it did help keep it from disappearing. It aroused so much interest that, as soon as the company went into liquidation, it already had several suitors willing to buy it. And above all, it had a huge impact on the science fiction of the 80s. Apparently, It inspired, among others, the cars of Tron, Total Challenge and RoboCop. A car, never better said, from a movie, and that still exists. In fact, Bertone herself kept it and was sold in 2011, when it went into suspension of payments, for around 400,000 euros.

Myrtle Frost

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