This week’s forgotten concept is the Bertone-designed Lamborghini Athon from 1980.
Name: Lamborghini Athon
Debuted: 1980 Turin Motor Show
Specs: mid-mounted 3.0-liter V8 engine with 260 hp, five-speed manual gearbox, independent front & rear suspension
Why We Remember It Now:
Revealed at a time when Lamborghini was in deep financial problems, the Athon was Bertone’s way of supporting the company from Sant’Agata Bolognese. We remember it today mostly because of its rather futuristic design which kind of reminds us of movies such as Robocop (1987) and Total Recall (1990). However, the Athon was revealed at the 1980 Turing Motor Show, long before those movies hit the big theaters.
Designed by Marc Deschamps, the concept was based on a Lamborghini Silhouette chassis and was actually functional, with the press being able to take it for a spin after its reveal. The name “Athon” is derived from the Egyptian sun god “Aton” and the car was praised for the soundtrack it provided. To be fair, that was partially due to the lack of any sort of soundproofing.
That sound came from a transverse mid-mounted 3.0-liter V8 engine with four Weber carburetors delivering a healthy 260 horsepower through a five-speed manual transmission. The concept was fitted with independent front and rear suspension featuring MacPherson struts, coil springs, and hydraulic dampers.
While the wheelbase remained the same compared to the donor car, the overall length decreased to less than four meters (157.4 inches) as a result of the shorter rear overhang. The end result was quite unusual for a Spider of the 80s, but even so the car generated a lot of buzz for its interesting shape and proportions.
Despite being developed in a relatively short amount of time, Bertone paid extra attention to the interior cabin. Veglia was in charge of providing the digital instrument display which was considered as being innovative back in 1980. Another neat feature was the pod mounted to the left of the steering wheel which incorporated the secondary controls. The single-spoke steering wheel was also quite impressive and represented Bertone’s way of improving cabin ergonomics.
If you are wondering what happened to the Athon, it was auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in 2011 and managed to fetch €347,200 ($392,700). At that moment, the car was in “absolutely original condition” and hopefully it remains the same to this day.