The Lamborghini Countach is a rear mid-engined, V12 sports car produced by Italian car manufacturer Lamborghinifrom 1974 to 1990. It is one of the then-exotic designs conceptualized by Italian Design house Bertone, which pioneered and popularized the sharply angled "Italian Wedge" design language.
This design language was originally embodied and introduced to the public in 1970 as the Lancia Stratos Zero concept car, while the first showing of the Countach was in 1971 as the Lamborghini LP500 Concept Car. The DNA of the original Countach can be found within the design language of sports cars throughout the 1970s and into the '80s. The Countach also popularized the "cab forward" design concept, which pushes the passenger compartment forward to accommodate a larger rear-mounted engine.
A single prototype was built, the LP500 (where the 'LP' stands for 'longitudinale posteriore', which means 'longitudinally in the rear' in Italian and refers to engine orientation and placement, whereas the 500 stands for the 5.0 L (310 cu in) engine displacement they intended to use). Painted bright sunflower yellow, the concept car was well received by critics at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971. Sporting Gandini's original design concepts, the car's design required extensive modification to qualify for mass-production. The two most notable changes were necessary because air-intake proved insufficient to cool the engine. The prototype had slatted, 'gill-like' intake ducts on the rear shoulders, and these were replaced with massive "air box" scoops that extended out from the vehicle's streamlined body. In addition, NACA style air ducts were cut into the body of the car beneath the B pillar, which required eliminating the prototype's traditional door handles and replacing them with handles of a unique configuration set into the portion of the ducts carved into the scissor doors. Aluminium-honeycomb sheeting, a concept utilized in the prototype design, was also dropped in preparation for production.
The car did not survive; it was sacrificed in a crash test at MIRA facility to gain European type approval, even though its construction method was utterly unlike production vehicles.
The Countach entered production as the LP400 with a 3929 cc engine delivering 375 metric horsepower (276 kW; 370 hp). Externally, little had altered from the final form of the prototype except at the rear, where conventional lights replaced the futuristic light clusters of the prototype. The styling had become rather more aggressive than Gandini's original conception, with the required large air scoops and vents to keep the car from overheating, but the overall shape was still very sleek. The original LP400 rode on the quite narrow tires of the time, but their narrowness and the slick styling meant that this version had the lowest drag coefficient of any Countach model. The emblems at the rear simply read "Lamborghini" and "Countach", with no engine displacement or valve arrangement markings as is found on later cars. By the end of 1977, the company had produced 158 Countach LP400s.
In 1978, a new LP400 S model was introduced. Though the engine was slightly downgraded from the LP400 model at 355 PS (350 hp; 261 kW), the most radical changes were in the exterior, where the tires were replaced with 345/35R15 Pirelli P7 tires; the widest tires available on a production car at the time, and fiberglass wheel arch extensions were added, giving the car the fundamental look it kept until the end of its production run. The LP400 S' handling was improved by the wider tires, which made the car more stable in cornering. Aesthetically, some prefer the slick lines of the original, while others prefer the more aggressive lines of the later models, beginning with the LP400 S. The standard emblems ("Lamborghini" and "Countach") were kept at the rear, but an angular "S" emblem was added after the "Countach" on the right side.
There are three distinct Countach LP400 S Series:
The first 50 cars delivered with Campagnolo "Bravo" wheels in 1978 and 1979. The very early 1978 cars had the original LP400 steering wheel. Small Stewart-Warner gauges, 45 mm (1.8 in) carburettors and a lowered suspension (lowbody) setting is a trademark feature of this celebrated first series. Halfway through 1979's production, bigger gauges were employed. 50 cars were built, and the last one is 1121100*.
These cars are recognized by their smooth finish dished-concave wheels, and still retain the low body setting. 105 cars were built, and the last one is 1121310*.
It is claimed that from chassis number 1121312 onwards, the cockpit space available was raised by 3 cm (1.2 in). These cars are recognized by their raised suspension setting. 82 cars were built, and the last one is 1121468*.
The Countach Turbo S is a series of two prototypes privately developed by engineer Franz Albert. Two were produced but only one is known to exist. The Turbo S weighed 1,515 kg (3,340 lb), while its 4.8 litre twin-turbo V12 engine had a claimed maximum power output of 758 PS (748 hp; 558 kW) and 876 N⋅m (646 lb⋅ft) of torque, enabling the car to accelerate from 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 335 km/h (208 mph). A turbo adjuster, located beneath the steering wheel, could be used to adjust the boost pressure from 0.7 bar to 1.5 bar at which the engine performed its maximum power output. The Turbo S has 15" wheels with 255/45 tires on the front and 345/35 on the rear.
In 1985 the engine design evolved again, as it was bored and stroked to 5,167 cc (5.2 L) and given 4 valves per cylinder—quattrovalvole in Italian, hence the model's name, Countach LP5000 Quattrovalvole or 5000 QV in short. The carburetors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing—unfortunately this created a hump on the engine deck, reducing the already poor rear visibility to almost nothing. Some body panels were also replaced by Kevlar. In later versions of the engine, the carburetors were replaced with fuel injection.
Although this change was the most notable on the exterior, the most prominent change under the hood (in the USA) was the introduction of fuel injection, with the Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, providing 414 bhp (309 kW; 420 PS), rather than the six Weber carburetors providing a nominal 455 PS (449 bhp; 335 kW) at 7,000 rpm and 500 N⋅m (369 lbf⋅ft) at 5,200 rpm of torque in the "euro specification" carbureted models, Many now distinguish between the two variants by referring to carbureted models as Downdraft or DD. 610 cars were built in this specification, 66 with fuel injection.
Named to honour the company's twenty-fifth anniversary in 1988, the 25th Anniversary Countach, although mechanically very similar to the 5000QV, sported considerable restyling. Notably, enlargement and extension of the rear 'air-box' intake-ducts was among other refinements undertaken (extending them to a more gradual incline further in-keeping with aerodynamic-streamlining), while the secondary pair of debossed ducts, originally situated further behind them, were brought forward and relocated directly on top, encompassing refashioned fins now running longitudinally rather than transversely, this allowed the airboxes, located behind the radiators to be rotated from a transverse to a longitudinal position, allowing better airflow from the radiators out through the secondary fins. Additionally, further reconstruction of an already modified engine-bay cover, from a concept consisting of dual-raised sections and tri-ducting, to one that embodies a centre-raised section incorporating dual-ducting become another feature. Various redevelopments to the rear-end were made; most notably the introduction of a rear bumper extending outwardly from the lower-portion.
These styling changes were unpopular with many—particularly features such as the fin strakes within the primary rear-intake-ducts openings, which appeared to mimic the Ferrari Testarossa, though providing crucial improved engine cooling. Nonetheless it was only outsold by the QV model. It continued to featured 345/35R15 tyres. The Anniversary edition was produced up until 1990 before being superseded by the Lamborghini Diablo.
The 25th Anniversary Edition was the most refined and possibly the fastest edition of the Lamborghini Countach: 0–97 km/h (0–60 mph) in 4.7 seconds and 295 km/h (183 mph) all out.
- Jeremy Clarkson originally reviewed the Countach on Old Top Gear, driving against the Miura and the Diablo.
- Jeremy later reviewed the Countach LP5000QV on Clarkson: Unleashed on Cars, noting at it's difficulty to drive and it's sheer impracticality.
- Clarkson revisited the Countach in Clarkson's Car Years, "The Rise and Fall of the Supercar" ultimately finding it difficult to drive and highly impractical.
- The Countach earned 96th place on Clarkson's Top 100 Cars, with Jeremy only praising it's styling.
- James reviewed the Lamborghini Countach LP400S in Series 3, Episode 2 comparing it to the Ferrari Boxer. Despite praising its styling and madness, he was appalled by how difficult it was to drive.
- In Series 14, Episode 5 James selected the Lamborghini Countach as his, "best looking car of all time" but the car proved difficult to pass through the main door into the Mima Art Gallery
- James May later reviewed the LP5000QV Countach, in James May's Cars of the People Series 1, Episode 3 (COTP) finding the same faults as before, but being less disapointed.
- Reid drove Musician Example's Countach in Extra Gear S03E05.