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The legacy of the Lamborghini Countach in a video series. From the idea car, the LP 500 of 1971, to five generations spanning seventeen years

These years shaped important social conquests, from the space race and the advent of high tech with the construction of modern computers, to the geometric pattern fashion trends with their explosion of bright colors and the advent of individualism and the jet age. Ending up on the walls of the bedrooms of an entire generation and playing a major role in dozens of films, the Countach depicted much more than a clamorous, commercial success. While still in production, it was able to play the role of a style and performance icon by rightfully winning space in the annals of world automotive history.

1971: the debut with the “idea car”, the Countach LP 500

The new car had to be technically advanced and faster, able to become the sports car symbolizing the 1970s. The 12-cylinder engine remained but its displacement was increased from 4 to 5 liters, and its position on the car changed: from rear transversal to rear longitudinal. From the stylistic viewpoint, Marcello Gandini, head of style at Carrozzeria Bertone, decided to abandon the rounded shapes that had distinguished the 1960s and he designed a very low and wide car featuring sharp edges.

Gandini decided to use scissor doors not only to fulfill a technical requirement resulting from the height of the side portion of the chassis but also to gain a few centimeters in width to make it easier to climb into the car. The extraordinary feature of the LP 500 lies in its sharp edges, which in the automotive industry became the stylistic symbol of the years to come, and gave birth to a model that remained in production with very few modifications for seventeen years.

1973: the first generation, the Countach LP 400, was born

The Countach LP 500 was an instant and total success. Roughly two years of intensive work stretching over long days on the road, driven by the legendary New Zealander test driver Bob Wallace, were needed for the Countach LP 500 prototype to become a standard production car.

The Countach LP 400 made its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1973 with the chassis #1120001 car. It was a prototype very similar in its entirety to the one that was to then be the standard production car. Compared to the Countach LP 500, the LP 400 differs from a technical point of view, primarily by adopting a tubular trellis frame instead of a self-supporting structure. The car, presented in Geneva in the color red, was later exhibited repainted medium green at the 1973 IAA motor shows in Frankfurt, Paris and Earls Court London.

1978: the Countach LP 400 S

The LP 400 was replaced by the Countach LP 400 S starting from 1978. It featured wheel arch extensions necessary to contain the larger tires, an ultra-low front spoiler and, as an option, a rear wing that was also to become one of the most distinctive features of the Countach in the following years. To this day, the LP 400 S is still considered the perfect example of the DNA of the Countach and Lamborghini, made of sportiness, alluring shapes and futuristic technology.

1982: the Countach LP 5000 S

The first thing that engineer Giulio Alfieri, who joined the company in 1979 as Technical and Production Manager, and later General Manager, created was the (almost) 5-liter engine that was fitted on the LP 5000 S, officially presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1982.

The new engine developed 375 hp at 7000 rpm, with a 41.8 kgm torque at 4500 rpm, and it retained the six Weber 45 DCOE horizontal twin-body carburetors (after being imported into the USA, some vehicles were fitted with the Bosch K-Jetronic electronic injection). 323 units were produced until 1985 when the LP 5000 Quattrovalvole was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1985.

1985: the Countach LP 5000 Quattrovalvole

The Quattrovalvole adopted a new evolution of the 12-cylinder engine, with displacement increased to 5.2 liters and equipped with a head having four valves per cylinder. The version for the US market, on the other hand, had Bosch KE-Jetronic electronic injection combined with catalytic converter and recovery of the gas fumes. The front track was increased by 4.4 millimeters and aesthetic alterations were minimum: a new engine hood featuring a larger protuberance necessary to contain the new vertical carburetors.

The US version is recognizable not only by its side repeaters, but also by its bumper profile applied to the rear panel and its oversized front bumper. The QV was the first standard production Lamborghini to use composite material, in this case for the engine hood.

1988: the Countach 25th Anniversary

The Countach 25th Anniversary, the last evolution of the Countach project, debuted at the Paris Motor Show in September 1988. Actually, the need to replace the Countach was anticipated as far back as 1985, when engineer Luigi Marmiroli took the place of Giulio Alfieri at the helm of the Automobili Lamborghini Technical Office. It had been in production for over fourteen years, but in the meantime it was decided to freshen up the Countach with a new version that was to be named 25th Anniversary, to celebrate the company’s 25-year history.

The engine was given an improved cooling system and the chassis was adjusted in a different manner to better adapt to the new Pirelli P Zero tires. In addition to the new modular aluminum rims, visible features of the 25th Anniversary are the air intakes positioned in the rear, made rounder and longer to also contain the hot air outlet. These modifications, some of which borrowed directly from the Countach Evoluzione prototype, made the 25th Anniversary the Countach with the most superb results in terms of aerodynamic downforce and penetration.

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Jul 12, 2021 at 16:46

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