The Lamborghini Countach was a trail-blazing pioneer for the sports car industry. It was one of the first vehicles to incorporate the ‘Italian wedge’ that would shape the designs of countless super cars in years to come.
It remains prevalent even to this day, as proved after a certain white Countach was featured as Jordan Belfort’s prized vehicle in one of the Wolf of Wall Street’s most iconic scenes.
Originating in 1974, the Countach’s production spanned 16 years through to 1990. It proved to be one of the most popular models to ever be produced by the Italian giant. The grand total of models produced was 2,042 over the 16-year period before production was discontinued in favour of the newer Diablo.
Why the Countach Name?
To focus on the history of such an incredible vehicle, one must first start with the now iconic name – Countach. The word countach is derived from the Piedmontese language as an exclamation of astonishment.
The chief designer for the Countach model, Marcello Gandini, said in an interview that the phrase was often used by one of the profilers in the manufacturing process, which is how the name was formed.
The Progression of the Lamborghini Countach
The Countach went through 6 progressions starting with the LP400. Each version came with modifications and improvements made mostly to the engine performance. The initial angular design typically remained unaltered, after it proved to be a popular favourite amongst sports car enthusiasts.
One of the most notable editions of the Countach through its production span was the Walter Wolf edition. Walter Wolf is a wealthy Canadian businessman and was the owner of the Wolf F1 racing team in the 1970’s.
Wolf was not satisfied with the engine power of the LP400 and commissioned Gianpaolao Dallara, the chief engineer of Lamborghini at the time to produce a higher-powered version. It featured a 5-litre engine that produced an improved top speed of 201 mph.
This model also featured upgraded wheels, Pirelli P7 tires, large fender flares, the front and rear spoilers of the LP400 S model and was painted red with black fender flares.
Two other versions were produced from the initial model, which was dubbed the LP500S.
The Countach was also featured as the F1 safety car during 1980-83 at the world-famous Monaco Grand Prix.
The Pioneering Countach Design
Unknowingly to the then young and inexperienced automotive designer Marcello Gandini, the angular wedge shaped body of the Countach would go on to shape the design of sports cars throughout the 1970s and ’80s.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why the Countach designs remained unchanged since the initial prototype reveal in 1971, right through to its discontinuation in 1990.
The ‘scissor’ doors were a key feature of the Countach. They were first featured on the Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo Concept Car in 1968 (also designed by Gandini). However, they were revolutionised by the Countach, a design that is copied by sports car manufacturers through to present day.
The Countach was also a forerunner for the ‘cab forward’ design initiative, which accommodates for a rear-mounted engine with the passenger seat pushed forward.
Engine and Performance
The initial LP400 Countach, released in 1974 featured a 5-litre V12 engine capable of achieving a 179mph top speed, with an acceleration of 0-100km/h in just 5.4s.
The 25th anniversary version (and the final model of the Countach series that was released) was arguably the most powerful and fastest version of all of the Countach’s. It produced a top speed of 183mph and a boasted a 0-60mph-acceleration time of 4.7 seconds.
Currently, the most expensive Countach ever to sell at auction was for $1.21 million at Bonham’s Greenwich sale in 2014.
The Lamborghini Countach proves to be a popular classic amongst collectors and enthusiasts alike; the ground-breaking design process will likely stand the test of time. As the years roll by, rare LP400 models in pristine condition will likely see auction prices continue to inflate.