LAMBORGHINI COUNTACH REVIEW

Introduced in 1974, the Lamborghini Countach wowed the world with its unconventional looks, which were startling when compared with more conservative sports cars of the day. The Countach was the first supercar to pioneer the wedge shape – a design that would heavily influence car design in the next two decades. It was also a mid-engined design, carrying the torch first lit by the Lamborghini Miura in 1966, but the cabin was moved much further forward to accommodate the large engine. Again, this was a groundbreaking design feature that is still seen in the top supercars of today.

While most subsequent Lamborghinis have been named after bulls or bullfighting, Countach is actually an exclamation in the local Piedmontese people, usually uttered by a man upon seeing an especially beautiful woman. And it was beautiful. Styled by Marcello Gandini of Bertone (at that time an inexperienced designer), the Countach was the result of his imagination run wild. Not inhibited by such trifling matters as ergonomics, he let loose all his design flair to create one of the most striking cars ever produced. Low, wide and angular, the Countach was designed to take the breath away. But it wasn’t a user friendly car. The scissor doors, though hugely impressive, couldn’t be opened far enough to get out if there wasn’t enough clearance. Reversing the big supercar was also a chore – thanks to its crazy body you can hardly see out of the rear window.

Styling was only half the story though. Beneath that angular, lairy bodywork lay the beating heart of a monster – a 3929cc twelve-cylinder engine producing over 370bhp.

The first incarnation of the Countach, the LP400, was released in 1974 and in total only 158 cars were produced. The styling was even more aggressive than Gandini’s ignition designs, though some of these modifications were practical in nature – large air scoops had to be added all over the car to help cool the big V12. At this they were only partially successful – driving a Countach is a warm experience due to the heat from the engine soaking into the cabin.

The first styling changes came in 1978 with the launch of the LP400S, the most notable addition being the large glassfibre flared wheel arches. Many purists claim that the LP400 is the most attractive due to the lack of these features.

In 1982 the LP500S was launched. The bodywork remained the same, but the engine was swapped for a more powerful 4.8-litre engine. This would be the most numerous model to date, with 323 cars produced.

The 5000QV arrived in 1985, so named for its four-valves per cylinder arrangement, or quattrovalvole in Italian. The existing 4.8-litre engine was bored and stroked, giving a final displacement of 5.2-litres. Six Weber carburettors fed the new motor, allowing a maximum power output of 414bhp. The carbs were now placed directly above the engine, completely eliminating rear visibility.

From 1988 to 1990 the final edition 25th Anniversary model was produced, which featured much changed (and largely unpopular) bodywork. 658 of these cars were produced.


VITAL STATISTICS

ENGINE 3929cc/12-cyl/DOHC

POWER 370bhp@8000rpm

TORQUE 266lb ft@5000rpm

TOP SPEED 164mph

0-60MPH 5.9secs

ECONOMY 17mpg

GEARBOX 5-speed manual

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