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Published: Thursday, 30 May 2013 10:00
Written by Ben David T Quirk
The Countach single handedly saved Lamborghini and it was also an Italian supercar. It was first launched at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, with the last one rolling out of the factory in 1990.
The Countach revolutionised the wedge-shaped lookl, adopted today by supercar manufacturers alike.
The name of this Super car meaning 'an exclamation of astonishment' is pronounced Koon-tash is from Piedmontese dialect, Italian. It received this name after Nuccio Bertone saw the prototype.
Even today this car still wins awards in 2004 the Countach was named the 3rd best sports car of 1970 and was 10th of the 1980's.
It was Marcello Gandini the Bertone studio designer who was the inspiration behind the Countach. He was seen as a rookie designer with a wreckless approach, no guides or idealistics, this approach gave Gandini waht he needed to radicalize auty design. The Lambo was made very low, it stands only 42.1" high & very wide, yet quite short. This unique design gained the label they were looking for, a desirable Italian supercar.
This car revolutionised 'scissors doors' later becoming known as gullwing doors, this pushed the car into the fashion arena, and it became an icon, however this design came at a cost you couldn't park it anywhere with a low roof or too close to another car.
The aerodynamics weren't as effective as first thought, but it was styling and power they were pioneering for which it achieved with its fast and cool look.
The cars skin was very similar to the aluminium used on aircraft, this was then placed over a tubular space frame, this meant for a strong yet light build quite expensive and basically racing car technology. However the Countach weighed only 1500kg due to it. The underbody of the car was fibreglass.
The running gear and engine
The legendary Lamborghini Countach ran a V12 engine long ways mounted in a mid-engined configuration with 6 Weber carburettors, with the exception of the 5000QV which featured Bosch K Jetronic fuel injection. The engine was fitted backwards to improve weight distribution. It's gearbox was fitted in front of the V12 , and the front also housed the drive shaft.
Initially the car came with a 4 litre Miura engine however this was upgraded to 5 litre with the exception of the Quattrovalvole model this was given a 5.2 litre engine with 4 valves per cylinder.
The Diablo put an end to the carburettor for Lamborghini.
The LP500 first appeared at 1971 Geneva Motor show in sunflower yellow, this prototype design wowed the audience and press alike.
The car actually was technological nightmare, it had the looks, but there was no practicality. The air ducts didn't cool the engine ,which meant additioanl scoops and an airbox had to be fitted. NACA air intakes were assisted in the overheating. The LP500 was a one off and manufactured from aluminium honeycomb sheeting, this was never used again. The car was used in a controlled crash test to aid of European crash approval, a real shame.
The next production car to follow was the 4 litre LP400 Countach it was delivered to its first owner in 1974. It had looks similar to the LP500 prototype, but looked more sinister.
The auto was fitted narrow tires, due toi that being the only tires available however this aided the car to reach high speed due to reduced friction. This particular model is seen as a fresh original car, simple, with smooth lines and no extras. The emblems on the back simply read "Lamborghini Countach". This was seen as the cleanest of all models.
The next car to be launched was the LP400S in 1978. The engine was modded slightly and the car was treated to Pirelli P7's, wider fibreglass wheel arches.
The V-shaped spoiler became an optional extra, however was highly recommended for high-speed stability, however this lost the supercar 10 mph. Most owners obviously feared fro their life and ordered the wing. This car was far better than its predecessors with better handling and looks incorporating smooth lines. 1982 saw the the engine uprated to a 5.0 Litre. and then again in 1985 to a 5.2 and the car was renamed the 5000QV.
A limited edition Countach model was released in 1988 to commemorate the 25th year anniversary, the car a 5000QV with a new look. The rear 'air boxes' were increased in size and restyled, the vents were moved from front to back. A new air dam, side skirts incorporating air intakes, restyled narrower rear lights were added. The chnages to the original concept didn't go down well, but the car ran better and the V12 stayed cooler.The Anniversary Countach stayed in production till the 1990's when the Diablo was released.
The Walter Wolf
The Wolf Countach still remain the rarest of the three cars which were the only ones ever made. 1975, Walter Wolf, a rich Canadian businessman who owned Wolf F1 Racing team bought an LP400, however he wasn't not impressed, he asked Dallara, Lamborghini's chief engineer and founder of Scuderia Italia 1990, to design a more higher-powered model. Dallara took up the challenge, the car was coded NO 1120148" and dubbed the 'The Walter Wolf special', it ran a countach engine but generated 447 hp @ 7900 rpm and 315 km/h Top speed (Approx) it came with the original additions, as well as new wheels, wider bumpers and arches.
The car was red, and cmae with black fenders. The first Walter Wolf Countach now resides in Japan, the second model was in blue, NO 1120202 and lives in Germany, the final version was a dark blue model, NO 1121210 Wolf owned this car, but eventually sold it to a undisclosed buyer.
2,042 Lamborghini Countach cars were built during the cars 16 years of production.
1 LP500 Prototype
650 25th Limited edition Anniversary models