Lamborghini is celebrating 50 years of Countach in a special way: Starting this Monday, an inspiring personality will be telling the legacy of the icon in several episodes on social media. The start is made by designer Marcello Gandini, who designed the futuristic lines of the super sports car at a time when developers enjoyed great stylistic and technical freedom and only had to be guided by a few legal and regulatory requirements.
The 70s were a time of creativity and one of the most important decades for design. There have been years of important achievements such as space travel, the advent of high technology with the construction of modern computers and jet jets, to fashion trends with geometric patterns and vivid colors. The Countach looked down from the teenage room walls of a generation and was much more than an over-the-top commercial success. No sooner had it been produced than it took on the role of a style and performance icon and made a name for itself in the world history of the automotive sector.
1971: the debut with the "Idea Car", the Countach LP 500
In the summer of 1970, Ferruccio put pressure on Lamborghini to create a revolutionary vehicle that would replace the Miura. The new super sports car should be technically more advanced and faster and at the same time become a symbol of the 70s. The twelve-cylinder engine with a displacement increased from four to five liters was installed longitudinally at the rear instead of transversely. The technical manager, Ing.Paolo Stanzani, found a solution with the gearbox in front of the engine, almost directly behind the seats, and a drive shaft through the monoblock. From a stylistic point of view, Marcello Gandini, Style Director at Carrozzeria Bertone, decided to leave the rounded shapes of the 60s behind and designed a very deep, long and angular vehicle with an absolutely unusual shape.
Gandini opted for the scissor doors not only for technical reasons in connection with the lateral height of the frame. He secured the applause of Ferruccio for another innovation and created something that would become a characteristic feature of all twelve-cylinder from Sant'Agata Bolognese. The uniqueness of the LP 500 is evident from the angular shapes that became the stylistic symbol of the following years in the automotive sector. They breathed life into a model that, with very few changes, was produced for a good 17 years.
During the work on the first prototype with the name LP 500, which had to be completed for the Geneva Motor Show in March 1971, the word "Countach" appeared for the first time. The expression from the Piedmontese dialect means astonishment and admiration for something.
1973: Birth of the first generation, the Countach LP 400
The Countach LP 500 was an instant hit. However, it was not fully developed, it was just an "Idea Car" to test the reactions of potential customers. But they were consistently positive. So Lamborghini decided to start developing and bring the sports car to market as soon as possible. It took two years of intensive work, often with New Zealand test driver Bob Wallace, before the Countach LP 500 could go into series production. Numerous changes were necessary, particularly in connection with the engine cooling and the air intake in the interior, for which two side NACA air flaps and two air ducts were added above the air inlets of the radiator. The front changed slightly and was raised a few inches.
the Countach vehicles and the story in Video
After the first tests on the road, the five-liter engine turned out to be half-baked and too sensitive and was replaced by a four-liter engine. The Countach LP 1973 made its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 400: with a prototype with chassis number # 1120001. Everything was very similar to the later production vehicle. Compared to the Countach LP500, the main difference between the LP400 is the use of a tubular space frame instead of a self-supporting structure. The body was made of aluminum parts; with it, all optical and technical changes that had become necessary during development were taken over. The red car presented in Geneva was later to be exhibited in medium green at the 1973 IAA Motor Show in Frankfurt, Paris and Earls Court in London. It was then sold to Switzerland, located in the early 2000s and is now owned by Automobili Lamborghini, exhibited in its own museum, MUDETEC.
The standard Countach had a frame made of steel tubes with different diameters, a floor made of fiberglass and sheet metal plates to "close" the engine and trunk. The car offered numerous advantages in terms of weight and remained practically unchanged over the entire production years.
The 45 liter engine fed by six Weber twin carburetors (Type 4,0 DCOE) produced 375 hp at 8000 rpm for a top speed of almost 300 km / h. The suspensions had their origins in racing with wishbones of different lengths, coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and a coupling rod to the front and rear axles, trapezoidal springs at the top and triangular springs at the bottom, adjustable shock absorbers for each wheel and cross struts. The brakes were self-bleeding disc brakes with brake calipers for racing. Regarded by many fans as the purest version in the design of Marcello Gandini, the LP 400 is today the version most sought after by collectors with only 1977 copies sold until 152.
1978: the Countach LP 400 S
From 400 the LP 1978 was replaced by the Countach LP 400 S, with the newly designed, heavily lowered Pirelli P7 wheels with magnesium rims and 205/50 VR15 tires at the front and 345/35 VR15 at the rear, the wheel arches required for larger tires very low front spoiler and a rear spoiler which also became a distinguishing feature of the Countach in subsequent years. Today, the LP 400 S is considered the perfect example of the Countach and Lamborghini's DNA, which combines sportiness, aesthetics and futuristic technology. Never before had a “normal” vehicle been seen on the road with an appearance so suitable for the piste, and the LP 400 S served as inspiration for all subsequent Countach series. 235 units were built until 1982.
1982: the Countach LP 5000 S
The successor LP 5000 S made its first appearance at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1982. Ing. Giulio Alfieri, who joined the company in 1979 as technical and production manager and later became general director, developed the engine with (almost) five liters.
The model, which was visually indistinguishable from the LP 400 S, had a slightly different interior. The new engine developed 375 hp at 7000 rpm. The horizontal Weber twin carburetors (type 45 DCOE) remained unchanged (only a few vehicles received Bosch K-Jetronic electronic injection after importation into the USA). The production consisted of 323 pieces until the LP 5000 Quattrovalvole replaced it in 1985. In March 1985, its first version was presented at the Geneva Motor Show, which was officially imported and also registered in the USA.
1985: the Countach LP 5000 Quattrovalvole
In the Quattrovalvole or QV, the twelve-cylinder engine was further developed with a displacement increased to 5,2 liters and a four-valve cylinder head. The new technical solution forced the use of new carburettors, six Weber DCNFs, no longer in a horizontal position, but mounted vertically. The version for the US market, on the other hand, was equipped with Bosch KE-Jetronic electronic injection in a unit with catalytic converter and fuel vapor return. The increase in power is amazing: 455 hp at 7000 rpm. The front track grew by 44 millimeters, the aesthetic changes were minimal: just a new bonnet with a large hump, which is necessary to make room for the new vertical carburetors.
From 1988 the QV received side skirts, which made its appearance even more modern. The US version can be recognized by the side reinforcements by the bumper contour on the rear wall and by the extended front bumper. The QV is the first series production Lamborghini with a bonnet made of composite material. In total, only 1988 Quattrovalvole were produced until 631.
Since construction of the Countach began, some vehicles have come onto the US market, but the Countach was not officially approved for the US market until model year 1986 with the LP 5000 Quattrovalvole.
Every Countach for the US went through a number of changes necessary to bring it into line with the tough US regulations for environmental and impact protection. However, these were improvised solutions that severely restricted the Countach's sales opportunities in one of the most important markets in the world. It is no coincidence that the Countach made up almost 50 percent of Lamborghini's total production at the end - and that in the last four years from 1987 to 1990, when the model was already more than 15 years old.
1988: the Countach 25 ° Anniversario
The Countach 1988 ° Anniversario, the latest evolution of the Countach, made its debut at the 25 Paris Motor Show. Since 1985, when the engineer Luigi Marmiroli took over the position of Giulio Alfieri at the head of the technical department at Automobili Lamborghini, there was a need to replace the Countach, which had been in production for 14 years. In the meantime it has been renewed with a special version, which was named 25 ° Anniversario to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary.
There were strong changes in appearance, but only a few technically. The engine got an improved cooling system, the frame was realigned to adapt to the new Pirelli P Zero tires. The developers renewed the passenger compartment and made it more comfortable with the less shaped, electrically adjustable seats and the power windows. The still young Horacio Pagani, who was with Lamborghini at the time, revised the style of the body, made the shapes more rounded and better integrated the external appendages such as wheel arch covers and sills into the whole. A visible feature of the 25 ° Anniversario, in addition to the new composite aluminum rims, are the rounded and extended air inlets at the rear. These changes, some of which were borrowed directly from the prototype Countach Evoluzione, made the 25 ° Anniversario the Countach with the best results in terms of dynamic lift and drag.
The 25 ° Anniversario is the most frequently produced type in the history of the Countach and raised total production of the Countach model to 1999 vehicles (not counting the very first LP 400 # 1120001). On July 4, 1990, the last Countach rolled off the production line, a 25 ° Anniversario in the version for Europe in metallic silver and with an interior made of gray leather. This Countach with car no. 658 was not sold, but remained in the MUDETEC exhibition.
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The legacy of the Lamborghini Countach in a video series. From the Idea Car, the LP 500 from 1971, over five generations in 17 years
Photo credit: Lamborghini
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