What is the history of the Lamborghini Countach?

Over its 17 year production, few cars have captured the imagination and fascination of a generation of boys like the Lamborghini Countach.  This is the history of the Lamborghini Countach.

Few cars capture the excess of the 1980s than the Lamborghini Countach. By 1980, the Lamborghini Countach had already been in production for nine years.

The Lamborghini Countach works because it is from an era when automobile designers had complete control of the creative process, free of regulatory and statutory restraints.

The 1970s were a time of unbridled invention and one of the most pivotal periods in design history. These years shaped many accomplishments from the arrival of the Space Age and the dawn of the Computer Age. The Countach captured the essence of modern design in automotive form, making it a “must-have” poster for the wall of every adolescent male. In addition, it was able to establish itself as an aesthetic and performance icon while still in production, earning a place in the annals of world automotive history.

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The 1971 Countach LP 500 “concept vehicle.”

Following the success of the Miura, Ferrucio Lamborghini pushed his team to produce a suitable replacement. This was no simple task. The year was 1970, and the replacement for the Miura had to be faster and more technologically advanced.

Lamborghini retained the 12-cylinder engine of the Miura. However, it was enlarged to 5 liters, and its location was changed from rear transversal to rear longitudinal. Paolo Stanzani, the company’s technical manager, invented a new technical solution that enabled changing the location of the engine. He relocated the transmission in front of the engine right behind the seats, placing a propeller shaft inside the engine block.

Marcello Gandini, Carrozzeria Bertone’s head of style, moved away from the rounded curves that defined the Miura and the 1960s and instead opted for a shallow and broad design with sharp edges, very unique in terms of automotive design.

The unique scissor doors were designed out of necessity because of the height of the chassis. It also added several millimeters in breadth to make climbing into and out of the vehicle easier. The scissor doors have not only defined the Countach but every 12-cylinder vehicle to come out of Sant’Agata Bolognese since.

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What is the source of the word “Countach”?

The word “Countach” initially surfaced while creating the prototype, known as the LP 500. The term is an exclamation used in the Piedmontese dialect of Italy to express surprise and enthusiasm for something.

The first generation, the Countach LP 400, was introduced in 1973.

Upon its debut, the Countach LP 500 was a huge hit. Once commercial viability was established, a production design was created, approved, and quickly put into production. Two years of intense work was the time it took to take the Countach from prototype to production form. Much of the time was spent testing on the roadways of Italy. As a result, many changes were made as a result of testing to the production version of the Countach, particularly with engine cooling. The characteristic side Naca air intakes and ducts were added, and the front of the vehicle was raised a few centimeters to increase airflow.

Extensive testing uncovered problems with the 5-liter V-12 engine, prompting Lamborghini to use a 4-liter engine instead. With chassis #1120001, the Countach LP 400 made its formal premiere at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1973. The final production version was nearly identical to the prototype.

From a technical standpoint, the LP 400 differs from the Countach LP 500 by utilizing a tubular trellis frame instead of self-supporting construction. It also uses aluminum body panels instead of steel panels.

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What are the mechanicals powering the Countach LP 400?

The 4-liter engine found in production vehicles produced 375 horsepower at 8000 pm and had a top speed of over 180 miles per hour. The suspension was inspired by race cars, with adjustable double shock absorbers at each wheel and an anti-roll bar at the rear axle. In addition, it had self-ventilating disk brakes with a racing-specific caliper.

Lamborghini produced 152 units of the LP 400, until 1977. Many consider it to be the purest version of Marcello Gandini’s design and is now the most sought-after version of the Countach.

When was the Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S sold?

In 1978, the LP 400 was replaced by the Countach LP 400 S. Lamborghini fitted it with Pirelli P7 tires, having a low profile, mounted on specially designed magnesium wheels, with 205/50 VR 15 on the front and 345/35 VR on the back. To accommodate the wider tires, it had wheel arch extensions, an ultra-low front spoiler, and, available as an option, a rear wing that would become one of the Countach’s defining characteristics.

Over 40 years later, the LP 400 S is regarded as the pinnacle of the Countach and Lamborghini DNA, with its sportiness, enticing forms, and cutting-edge technology. Never before had a “normal” car been seen on the road with such an aggressive racing appearance. It would go on to inspire successive generations of the Countach. However, just 235 units were produced over its four-year production run to be replaced by the LP 5000 S in 1982.

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When was the Lamborghini Countach LP 5000 S released?

In 1979, engineer Giulio Alfieri designed the 5-liter V-12 engine that powered the Lamborghini Countach LP 5000 S. First shown at Geneva in March 1982, the engine powering the third generation Countach produced 375 horsepower at 7000 pm. Carburation was through six Weber 45 DCOE horizontal twin-body carburetors. Units destined for the United States were fitted with Bosch K-Jetronic electronic injection.

Over its three-year production run, 323 units were made. The LP 5000 S was also the first version of the Countach to be officially approved for importation into the United States. Every Countach prior was a grey-market import.

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The Countach LP 5000 Quattrovalvole was released in 1985.

The follow up to the Countach LP 5000 S, was the LP 5000 Quattrovalvole, released in 1985. It featured a new version of the 12-cylinder engine, having a displacement of 5.2 liters and four valves per cylinder. In addition, the new head design called for new carburetors, six Weber DCNF, placed vertically rather than horizontally.

The LP 5000 Quattrovalvole was equipped with Bosch KE-Jetronic electronic injection and catalytic converters for cars sold in the United States. The new engine produced 455 horsepower at 7000 pm. Additional changes were an extension of the front rack by 4.4 millimeters and minor cosmetic changes: a new engine hood to accommodate the new vertical carburetors.

In 1988, side skirts were added to the QV, giving it a modern look. In addition, the QV was the first Lamborghini to use composite material in a standard production model, in this case, the engine hood. Over its three-year production run, Lamborghini made 631 Quattrovalvole models.

In 1986, the Lamborghini LP 5000 QV was the first Countach approved for sale in the United States. Many changes were made to make it compliant with US emissions standards. As a result, it is no coincidence that production increased towards the end of its production run. In the last four years, between 1987 and 1990, almost half of the units produced were sold in the United States.

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The Countach celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 1988.

1988 was Lamborghini’s 25th Anniversary. The company celebrated with the Countach, 25th Anniversary edition. Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September 1988, the cosmetic changes were significant, while the mechanical and chassis changes were minor. The engine’s cooling system was upgraded to accommodate new Pirelli P Zero tires. Inside, electric seats and windows were added, making it more comfortable.

Several changes were made to the exterior of the vehicle. Horacio Pagani, who would later found Pagani, smoothed the edges of the Countach, such as the wheel arch extensions and the plates under the doors. The air intakes in the back of the vehicle were made longer and rounder to improve airflow. Changes were topped off with new modular aluminum rims. The result was the 25th Anniversary being the Countach with the most aerodynamic downforce and airflow.

As with previous versions of the Countach, the “US” version, which was fitted with electronic fuel injection. The final Countach, a 25th Anniversary edition, went into production on July 4, 1990. It was the 658th Countach in the 25th Anniversary series, and the 1,999 Countach produced, excluding the first LP 400.

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