The Lamborghini Countach was the predecessor to the very successful Miura, and it wore a body designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, with exotic mid-engine layout in a two-door coupe configuration. It featured an attractive, wedge-shaped, and angular body with elegant lines and fitted with modern mechanical components and technology. The engine was mounted longitudinally and replaced the transverse layout of its predecessor. The transmission was now fitted in front of the engine offering excellent weight distribution. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a driveshaft, which ran in its own tunnel in the engine’s sump. Top speed was achieved at nearly 200 mph with zero-to-sixty taking under six seconds.
The Countach was first shown to the public at the 1971 Geneva Motorshow. It was dubbed the Countach LP500, for its five-liter powerplant. It was finished in an eye-catching bright sunflower yellow and had small air intake ducts. The production version, though similar in design, was a vast departure from the prototype version. The car customers received did not have the five-liter engine or the monocoque chassis. Instead, a four-liter derivative engine was mounted inside a tubular frame. Though the engine was smaller in displacement size, it was much more reliable and durable. The 5-liter unit had failed initial testing and was destroyed during a high-speed test session. Part of the issue was the car’s poor ability to keep the engine cool, which eventually resulted in larger air ducts.
The prototype car was destroyed in a European crash test demonstration. A sad end to a unique vehicle that could only be described as ‘priceless’ in the modern era.
The Countach had elegant lines that ran from the front to the rear in classic Bertone style. The only things disrupting those lines were the vehicle’s cooling vents, which were necessary to provide air to the engine. The doors opened in a scissor-like fashion and added to the ambiance and exotic nature of the vehicle.
Two years after the Geneva Motorshow debut, the production version was ready for the customers. The cars were called the ‘Countach LP400’, again, in reference to the vehicle’s engine displacement size. The car remained in production for two decades; during that time five different versions and iterations of the Countach were offered. By 1982, a suitable five-liter engine had been created and could be found in the vehicle’s engine bay; three years later the engine evolved again, being given four-valve heads and increasing horsepower to 455 for the European versions.
The first individual to receive a Countach was an Australian who took possession in 1974. D. Milne was a member of the Australian Defense Force Transport Corps.
This car, along with most of the other cars built by Lamborghini had one purpose: To beat Ferrari. Mr. Ferruccio Lamborghini, a tractor manufacturer, had an argument with Enzo Ferrari. He had bought a Ferrari and had a complaint about the car. When he approached Enzo Ferrari with his comments, Enzo replied that the problem was with the driver and not with the car. He also remarked that Ferruccio was just a tractor maker and did not understand real engineering. The result was a supercar dynasty.
The first series of Countach’s were known as the LP400 followed by the LP400S in 1978. The engine was further increased in 1982 to 4.8 liters and the model designation changed to LP500s. The LP500S was Lamborghini’s response to Ferrari’s ‘Boxer’ car, the 365 GT4. It was called ‘Boxer’ because it used a horizontally opposed engine that resembled a boxer boxing. Ferrari’s response to the LP500S was the Testarossa. Once again, Lamborghini answered by creating the Quattrovalvole that produced 455 horsepower.
Electric fans and large ducts located behind the door helped with keeping the mid-engine V-12 cool. By placing the engine in the middle, better handling was achieved through better weight distribution. The body was made entirely of alloy except for the fiberglass doors.
Trunk space was limited. Both the front and the rear had minimal compartments for storage.
A rear spoiler was optional and provided extra downforce and stability. It also looked good as well.
In 1991, after twenty years of production, the Countach was laid to rest to make room for the new Diablo. There were 157 examples of the LP400 produced; 237 of the LP400S. 321 of the LP500S were created and 676 examples of the LP500S QV. The 25th Anniversary edition had some of the highest production figures of all the Countach’s, second to the LP500S QV, with 650 examples being produced.