Off radar

The Fallen Stars
Lamborghini Athon

Plein soleil

Photo credit: RM Sotheby’s

Nuccio Bertone was very worried about the fate of his important relationship with Lamborghini during the second half of the 70s, after Ferruccio’s departure from the company and the Emilian manufacturer on the verge of bankruptcy. The arrival of a buyer, the powerful French family, Mimran, spurred him into proposing his services as a great creator of sports cars to the future Lamborghini. The year was 1980, the new management had just begun and in April, at the Turin Motor Show, an extremely innovative concept both in shape and technologies was presented. Its name was Athon. 

Small spoiler, generous exhaust, slim rear lights as is fashionable today, the Athon was definitely a car from the future

Financed entirely by Bertone, it was built on the mechanics of the Silhouette with a transverse mid-mounted 2996cc DOHC V8 engine. The Athon is entirely uncompromising: it has no hood and adds the magnificent sound of the 260hp V8 engine to its many merits. The lines are surprising and reminiscent of the hand of Marcello Gandini who left Bertone in those months. For this reason, the car is attributed to the French designer Marc Deschamps, head designer at the Turin coachbuilder at that time. With its very forward-set cabin and highly sculptured geometric volumes delineated by clear edges, the Athon has a very low drag coefficient and is unequivocally original. Originality confirmed by the tall rear section where the transverse position of the engine, which has its air intakes on the right, allowed the designer to create the two asymmetrical external air intakes. 

The pursuit of absolute cleanliness for better aerodynamics removed any aesthetic frills from the nose

The cockpit is also extremely innovative, with the single-spoke steering wheel designed to give the driver a clear view of the dashboard which is, somewhat courageously given the period, all-digital thanks to the contribution of Veglia Borletti. Due to its lack of soft top and Lamborghini’s repeated desire not to offer spider models, the car remained a prototype, and is now owned by an important Swiss collector who bought it from RM Sotheby’s during the Villa d’Este auction in 2011 for roughly €350,000.

A unique character that originates from the very forward-set driving position, from the generous sculpted side air intakes and the tall rear deck underlining the mid-engine
The unusual asymmetry of the rear bonnet is caused by the two air intakes for the 4 Weber carburettors swthat feed the V8 engine
This image shows the transverse V8 engine and the two airboxes with the filters positioned on the right beneath the air intakes
The wide range of instruments, clearly visible through the single-spoke steering wheel, offered the futuristic outlook of digital displays
Athon is the Egyptian Sun God. A perfect name for a car that can only be used fully open. In the hope it doesn’t rain!