One of the most distinct and exotic cars ever produced in automotive history was the legendary Lamborghini Countach. With an insane ability to turn heads, there was no way to miss this car. Lamborghini has a knack for creating the most impactful designs, and that's a plus when trying to attract the entire automotive world, which they did in spades in 1971 with the Countach LP 500 at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Countach was the embodiment of a true supercar and with its complete disregard for ergonomics, and was a supercar like no other. Though the designer of both the Countach and the Miura was one and the same, the two designs could not have been more different. Marcello Gandini from the house of Bertone was responsible for the swooping, stunning lines on the Miura, and also the radically different beast-like angular supercar, the Countach. A young new designer, Gandini wasn't yet experienced in the practical, ergonomic side of automobile design, but his youth also helped him to be less inhibited when it came to design. The design that he delivered was spectacular and the wedge-shaped body was nearly entirely made of up flat, trapezoidal panels.
The word 'countach' is translated as 'an exclamation of astonishment' in the local Piedmontese language, and is usually use when a man looks at a beautiful woman. The sharply angled design look was innovative for its time and helped to popularize the wedge-shaped look popular in many high performance sports vehicles. The Countachs signature scissor doors, which were an industry first, were a necessity since the car's width wouldn't allow for conventional doors. Sufficient clearance had to be had before the doors could be deployed. The rear window was so minuscule that drivers had to sit on the doorsill with the open door to park the car in reverse. But these minor inconveniences were worth it to drive such a unique car. The Countach was named the third on a list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970's in 2004 American car magazine Sports Car International.
The Countach featured a 'cabin-forward' design by Gandini that pushed the passenger compartment forward to make room for a mid-engine layout. Lighter than the Murcielago by about 600 pounds, the car featured aircraft-grade aluminum body panels over a tubular space frame that also enhanced structural rigidity, much like in a racing car. The aluminum made the Countach expensive to build, but incredibly strong and very light with the underbody tray being fiberglass. With a height of just 42 inches the Countach was a seriously flat car. The original prototype the LP 500 wasn't exactly production ready after the Geneva Motor Show due to insufficient cooling from the small gill-like intake ducts on the rear quarter panels. To accommodate the large V12 engine, numerous changes had to occur. Painted bright yellow, the single prototype LP 500 unfortunately didn't survive during a crash test at MIRA facility to gain European type approval.
The Countach LP 400 was the first production model and came with larger vents that included the famous NACA door vents, rear fender vents, and a big vent behind the driver which make the rearward visibility basically nil. At first the models used the same 4-liter engine as the Miura, but the overall design had to be a lot more complex than the original design because of the cooling needs of the car. Further improving handling was the 4-liter V12 being mid-mounted longitudinally and facing backward for a greater improved front-to-rear weight ratio. The gearbox and clutch were relocated to a position in front of the engine because of the size and weight of the V12 so the rear weight bias wouldn't be overly pronounced. These changes resulted in improved balance and better shifting because of the shortened length of the linkage between the shifter and the gearbox. Progressively changing the artistic values of the car, later on the car added fender flares, carburetor covers, spoilers and bumpers. The LP 400 proved to be the fastest Countachs ever made.
In 1978 the second-generation of the Countach arrived: the LP 400S. The S featured a variety of changes that included an optional v-shaped fixed rear wing that added stability, much wider 345mm Pirelli P7s, and extended fiberglass wheel arches to house them. Unfortunately the addition of the V-shaped spoiler over the rear deck reduced the top speed by 10 MPH. An angular 'S' emblem was added after the 'Countach' on the right side, while the standard emblems of 'Lamborghini' and 'Countach' were kept at the rear. There were three very unique Countach LP 400S Series. The first series included 50 models delivered with Campagnolo 'Bravo' wheels in 1978 and 1979. The original models featured the original LP 400 steering wheel. At the beginning the models featured trademark features like small Steward Warner gauges, 45 mm carbs and a lowered suspension. Changes in 1979 included the use of bigger gauges. 105 Series two models were created. This series continued on with the lowbody suspension and featured smooth finish dished/concave wheels. For the third series the suspension was raised and the cockpit space was now raised by 3 cm.
In an attempt at competing with Ferrari's Boxer, which beat the Countach LP 400, Lamborghini debuted the LP500S. Lamborghini played around with a turbo-charged version of the 4.0-liter engine, but cooling issues had them abandon this design early on. The best option was to increase the displacement up to 4754 cc by enlarging bother the stroke and bore. The new LP500 S was introduced at the March 1982 Geneva Auto Show. The old LP400S was still available, but it didn't sell as well compared to the much faster 500S. Weighing about 290 Kg heavier the 500S brought with it a larger 4.8-liter engine. By redesigning the combustion chambers, it lowered the compression ration and fit revised cams and larger Weber side draught carbs.
The bodywork was largely unchanged though a minor update was made to the side-mounted front turning indicators. The inscription on the tail panel was changes, and some eventual models said '5000' rather than '500'. The 500S used OZ aluminum-alloy wheels rather than the Magnesium Campagnolo found on the early LP400 S models. These rims were a bit heavier, but kept the same design found on the later LP400 S edition.
The inside of the 500S wasn't very different from the previous models, but the lining used for the inner door became much nicer thanks to additional stitching. A problem on earlier models was found in the lock on the glove box, so it was updated on the 500S model. Sometimes called LP 5000S, a total of 323 cars were constructed between 1982 and 1985. This all-new model outsold its predecessors in just two shorts years. Unfortunately though despite the name, the larger engine only measured 4,754 cc. The V12 put out 375 bhp at 7,000 rpm and continued to be fed by six double carburetors. AT 4,500 rpm torque rose to 302 lb ft. The LP 500S could hit 0-60mph in just 5.6 seconds and had a top speed over 186 mph.
Ferrari introduced the TestaRossa in response to the LP500. In 1985 the Countach 5000 QV (Quattrovalvole) was Lamborghini's response, with the name standing for the 4 valves per cylinder. The engine displacement was bumped up to 5.2 liters. Losing nearly all rear visibility for the driver, the six-webber carburetors were relocated to the top of the engine. The carburetors were replaced entirely eventually as the 5000 QV made use of fuel injection, though it reduced the horsepower from 455 to 414. The car was now available in America and now used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. European models continued to use the carburetors until the Lamborghini Diablo arrived on the scene.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamborghini_Countach http://gearpatrol.com/2013/07/08/octane-icon-lamborghini-countach/ http://www.topspeed.com/cars/lamborghini/1973-1990-lamborghini-countach-ar603.html By Jessica Donaldson
The sensational Lamborghini Countach was introduced at the 1971 Geneva Salon and wore styling by Bertone's Marcello Gandini. The production version would not become available for another two years with deliveries commencing in 1974. Mounted mid-ship ....[continue reading]
The Lamborghini Countach was unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Auto Show. It design was handled by Bertone stylist Marcello Gandini and drew inspiration from his earlier Alfa Romeo Carabo show car of 1968 and the Bertone Zero concept of 1970. It was low, f....[continue reading]
Just 321 examples of the Countach LP5000S were produced from 1982 - 1984.....[continue reading]
Chassis #: ZA9C00500CLA12540
Chassis #: ZA9C00500DLA12562
The Countach was the predecessor to the very successful Miura. The body was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, and given a mid-engine layout in two-door coupe configuration. It featured an attractive and curvaceous body with elegant lines and fitted with modern mechanical components and technology. The engine was mounted longitudinally and replaced the transverse layout of its predecessor. The transmission was now fitted in front of the engine offering excellent weight distribution. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a driveshaft, which ran in its own tunnel in the engine's sump. Top speed was achieved at nearly 200 mph with zero-to-sixty taking under six-seconds.
The Countach was first shown to the public at the 1971 Geneva Motorshow. It was dubbed the Countach LP500, for its five-liter powerplant. It was finished in an eye-catching bright sunflower yellow and had small air intake ducts. The production version, though similar in design, was a vast departure from the prototype version. The car customers received did not have the five-liter engine or the monocoque chassis. Instead, a four-liter derivative engine was mounted inside a tubular frame. Though the engine was smaller in displacement size, it was much more reliable and durable. The 5-liter unit had failed initial testing and was destroyed during a high speed test session. Part of the issue was the cars poor ability to keep the engine cool, which eventually resulted in larger air ducts.
The prototype car was destroyed in a European crash test demonstration. A sad end to a unique vehicle that could only be described as 'priceless' in the modern era.
The Countach had elegant lines that ran from the front to the rear in classic Bertone style. The only things disrupting those lines were the vehicles cooling vents, which were necessary to provide air to the engine. The doors opened in scissor-like fashion and added to the ambiance and exotic nature of the vehicle.
Two years after the Geneva Motorshow debut, the production version was ready for the customers. The cars were called the 'Countach LP400', again, in reference to the vehicles engine displacement size. The car remained in production for two decades; during that time five different versions and iterations of the Countach were offered. By 1982, a suitable five-liter engine had been created and could be found in the vehicles engine bay; three years later the engine evolved again, being given four-valve heads and increasing horsepower to 455 for the European versions.
The first individual to receive a Countach was an Australian who took procession in 1974. D. Milne was a member of the Australian Defense Force Transport Corps.
This car, along with most of the other cars built by Lamborghini had one purpose: To beat Ferrari. Mr. Ferruccio Lamborghini, a tractor manufacturer, had an argument with Enzo Ferrari. He had bought a Ferrari and had a complaint with the car. When he approached Enzo Ferrari with his comments, Enzo replied that the problem was with the driver and not with the car. He also remarked that Ferruccio was just a tractor maker and did not understand real engineering. The result was a super car dynasty.
The first series of Countach's were known as the LP400 followed by the LP400S in 1978. The engine was further increased in 1982 to 4.8 liters and the model designation changed to LP500s. The LP500S was Lamborghini's response to Ferrari's 'Boxer' car, the 365 GT4. It was called 'Boxer' because it used a horizontally opposed engine which resembled a boxer boxing. Ferrari's response to the LP500S was the Testarossa. Once again, Lamborghini answered by creating the Quattrovalvole that produced 455 horsepower.
Electric fans and large ducts located behind the door helped with keeping the mid-engine V-12 cool. By placing the engine in the middle, better handling was achieved through better weight distribution. The body was made entirely of alloy except for the fiberglass doors.
Trunk space was limited. Both the front and the rear had minimal compartments for storage.
A rear spoiler was optional and provided extra down force and stability. It also looked good as well.
In 1991, after twenty years of production, the Countach was laid to rest to make room for the new Diablo. There were 157 examples of the LP400 produced; 237 of the LP400S. 321 of the LP500S were created and 676 examples of the LP500S QV. The 25th Anniversary edition had some of the highest production figures of all the Countach's, second to the LP500S QV, with 650 examples being production. By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2014
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