Not a history lesson but here are some facts and figures that I have learned about the Countach.
Countach was one of those models from Lamborghini that helped the brand survive in its crisis. During the 1970s, the Italian supercar cum tractor manufacturer was struggling with financial difficulties and one of the main reasons was the oil crisis of the 70s. It was still running under the control of its legendary founder Ferruccio Lamborghini and the Countach is classified among the last few revolutionary products from the bull garage which was developed before his retirement. Lamborghini wanted to create a successor of the legendary Miura which will offer more comfort, performance and will have a beautiful appearance among the buyers and enthusiasts. So, the Countach came into life. This year, the Countach turns 50 as it was first unveiled on March 11, 1971, at the Geneva Motor Show. So let’s take a look at a few interesting facts about this striking Lambo from the 70s.
The Countach LP500 at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971 | Photo via: design-is-fine.org
It is not named after a Bull
Yes, it was one of the only five(if I’m correct) Lamborghini models that were not named after a bull. There’s an interesting story behind the nomenclature of this beauty. Let’s have the words from the designer Marcello Gandini himself-
“When we were working at night, to keep our morale up, there was a jousting spirit, so I said we could call it Countach, just as a joke…”
“When we made cars for the car shows, we worked at night and we were all tired, so we would joke around to keep our morale up. There was a profiler working with us who made the locks. He was two meters tall with two enormous hands, and he performed all the little jobs. He spoke almost only Piedmontese, didn’t even speak Italian. Piedmontese is much different from Italian and sounds like French. One of his most frequent exclamations was ‘countach’, which literally means plague, contagion, and is actually used more to express amazement or even admiration, like ‘goodness’. He had this habit. When we were working at night, to keep our morale up, there was a jousting spirit, so I said we could call it Countach, just as a joke, to say an exaggerated quip, without any conviction. There nearby was Bob Wallace, who assembled the mechanics – we always made the cars operational. At that time you could even roll into the car shows with the car running, which was marvellous. So jokingly I asked Bob Wallace how it sounded to an Anglo-Saxon ear. He said it in his own way, strangely. It worked. We immediately came up with the writing and stuck it on. But maybe the real suggestion was the idea of one of my co-workers, a young man who said let’s call it that. That is how the name was coined….”
One supercar, several engines
The whole Countach series used V12s that were longitudinally positioned which is why they were named with “LP” which indicates “Longitudinale Posteriore” in Italian. It was a move from the usual transversely mounted V12s from their previous flagship supercar Miura as longitudinally-mounted engines had proved to offer better usability and handling than the transversal ones. Till date, most supercars and performance cars use longitudinally-mounted engines for the same reason.
Countach LP500 | Photo via: Lamborghini
In its lifetime it met with a lot of new engines that would power it to reach the 300 kph mark(186mph). The first engine that it had was a 4.97-litre naturally aspirated V12 which was used in the first appearance of the Countach in 1971. But, the road tests showed that it was too immature and delicate for the car. So, Lamborghini decided to use a 3.93-litre engine instead, which will make its way to the first production-spec Countach called LP400.
About 4 years later the LP 400S was introduced which kept using the same engine. And after passing another 4 years, Lamborghini came up with the LP500 S which had a new 4.75-litre engine, that produced around 20 horses more than its predecessor.
As three more years passed, in 1985 Lamborghini introduced the Countach 5000 QV. QV means Quattrovalvole(obviously Italian) which translates to Four valves, as the engine now had four valves in each cylinder. And guess what? The engine got bigger in size too. They leapt into a 5.2-litre engine and the power figure increased from 370 hp to almost 450 hp in a matter of a few years. Plus, in the latter days, some of these engines came with an electronic fuel injection system too.
These engines powered the Countach for nearly two decades. Till now we only talked about naturally aspirated engines, have you ever dreamt about having a twin-turbocharged V12 in your Lambo? Sounds very outrageous, doesn’t it?
Countach 5000 QV | Photo via : The Car Shrink
Well, the outrageous dreams of yours and mine do exist in the real world. Two of the Countachs were turbocharged and one of them produced power figures around 750 horsepowers in the early 1980s, would you believe that? Honestly, it was really hard for me to believe because it’s a power figure that we see in recent supercars (please keep the EVs and hybrids out of the equation). Even the current flagship product of Lamborghini, the Aventador is producing about 780 hp with a 6.5-litre engine. So 40 years ago there was a Lamborghini that produced power figures that were pretty similar to today’s ones. And it has kept me surprised still now.
Countach LP500 Turbo S Prototype | Photo via: wallup.net
But the question is- why were only two of them made like that?
Actually, the Swiss distributor of Lamborghini at that time turned an LP400S and an LP500S into two twin-turbocharged unique versions of Countach of which, the LP500 Turbo S was the one that was showcased in the 1984 Geneva motor show. It is to be noted that Lambo doesn’t usually lean on turbocharging their supercars to increase power figures like others. They are known for their naturally aspirated V12 perfections. So this twin-turbo Lambo duo is a kind of exception that you’d barely expect from the bull garage.
Leaving curves and going edgy
I would like to share my personal feelings about the designs of cars while talking about the design revolution of Lamborghini. In Donut Media’s words, the Countach looked like a “rocket ship”. There were several vents and scoops and a vast amount of angles. Besides that, it was the first Lamborghini to come up with the scissor doors; to be precise, it was the first production car to come up with scissor doors so a lot of people call it Lambo doors even if they see it fitted in a McLaren. It was very edgy and felt like it was from the future. Even I still feel like it is something from the 90s.
Now, I am not really a fan of super-edgy, heavily striking designs. Alongside that, I am very much biased towards the four-door coupe type vehicle designs. In simple words, I like the RS5 coupe or the RS6 Avant more than the R8. Maybe I am more of a fan of well-proportioned car designs. This is why, from my perspective, compact supercars with striking designs don’t really feel great. So a lot of times I feel like the Countach could have been a bit curvier, and wavy like the Miura. Sometimes I feel like the Countach is too straightforward.
But hey, it was just the start of a new era of designing. It doesn’t matter whether it was beautiful to me or not. What matters is that it was a revolutionary design that was way ahead of its time. A lot of owners have acknowledged that it is not really made for being practical and comfortable, there are loads of issues about this elementary design but whenever you are looking back at the car or driving it, you are driving something that gave birth to the current generation of Lamborghinis. Honestly, if I am given the option of choosing a Lamborghini over its design beauty, I will probably choose any other car but the Countach. But if there are no design criteria then the Countach would be my most prior choice as it stands as a revolution.
So those above were three of the most interesting facts that I found about the Lamborghini Countach. As a lot of car guys, I do love studying cars and talking about them. Let me know what else car do you want me to study in the comments below and I’ll write a summary about that.
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