The Countach was first unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show as the Miura’s replacement, engineered by Giampaolo Dallara and breathtakingly styled by Marcello Gandini of Bertone fame. For a complicated, hand-built car, the Countach delivered all the reliable high performance that its swooping looks promised. In 1982, a 4.75-liter 375 bhp V12 was shoe-horned in to give the upcoming Ferrari Testarossa something to reckon with.
There is no mid-engined car like the Countach. The engine sits longitudinally in a multitubular space frame, with fuel and water carried by twin side-mounted tanks and radiators. On the downside, visibility is appalling, steering is heavy, gear selection recalcitrant, and the cockpit is cramped. Yet such faults can only be considered as charming idiosyncrasies when set against the Countach’s staggering performance—a howling 187 mph (301 km/h) top speed and a 0–60 (96 km/h) belt of 5 seconds.
BREAKING THE RULES
The shape is a riot of creative genius that ignores all established rules of car design. Air scoops under the body’s side windows break up the wedge-shaped line and form a ready-made indent for a compact door catch.
Steamroller-like 12J five-porthole alloy wheels sat on ultralow profile tires.
Air scoops provided ideal hand-holds for the huge scissor doors.
Inches away, all occupants were able to hear exactly what this engine had to say.
Pivoting doors were works of art that worked perfectly even on the earliest prototypes.
The Countach went exactly where it was pointed with unerring precision thanks to almost perfect weight distribution.
Underneath the alloy panels nestles a birdcage space-frame chassis of great complexity. Weight distribution is close to 50/50, which means that the Countach’s poise at the limit is legendary.
Luggage space was restricted to an overnight bag.
The cabin was crude, with unsubtle interior architecture. Switches and wands were Fiat- and Lancia sourced. Scant body protection means that most Countachs acquire a tapestry of scars.
Independent front and rear suspension had double wishbones and coil springs.
The 25-year anniversary of Lamborghini production in 1985 was celebrated with the 5000S and the elite Quattrovalvole 5000S.
Reversing the Countach is a bit like launching the Queen Mary. The preferred technique is to open the scissor door and sit on the sill while looking over your shoulder.
The 4.75-liter power unit spared no thought for fuel economy and drank one gallon of fuel every 9 miles (3.2 km/l).
Everything on the Countach is built on a grand scale. Four exhausts, four camshafts, 12 cylinders, half a dozen 45DCOE Webers, and the widest track of any car on the road.
It took an epoch to get used to the extra wide body.
S P E C I F I C A T I O N S
MODEL Lamborghini Countach (1973–90)
PRODUCTION Approx 1,000
BODY STYLE Mid-engined, two-seater sports coupe.
CONSTRUCTION Alloy body, space-frame chassis.
ENGINE 4754cc four-cam V12.
POWER OUTPUT 375 bhp at 7000 rpm.
TRANSMISSION Five-speed manual.
SUSPENSION Independent front and rear with double wishbones and coil springs.
BRAKES Four-wheel vented discs.
MAXIMUM SPEED 187 mph (301 km/h)
0–60 MPH (0–96 KM/H) 5.1 sec
0–100 MPH (0–161 KM/H) 13.3 sec
A.F.C. 9 mpg (3.2 km/l)