Countach: Evolution of a Revolution


LP500 Prototype
In our opinion the LP500 prototype is the purest of Gandini’s designs – and represents a beautiful mix of edge and flow. Designated for its 5.0 litre V12 engine, it was launched at Geneva in 1971 – but was compromised practically for the lack of those trademark shoulder mounted gapes on later editions. The almost feminine, sculptural quality of the rear three quarters contrasts sharply with the more brutal later iterations too. Like many concepts, it was never going to work out there on the hot roads of the Veneto. Apparently the one-off original was crash tested to death. How’s that for an Italian-Job style moment of automotive tragedy?

The first production Countach, which hit the streets in 1974, was a subtle evolution from the prototype – but one that retained a majority of the purity of flow – edged with the shoulder scoops and slightly altered panel geometry. The distinctive louvred engine cowlings, light clusters and snoop nosed stance that are visible today in all production Lambos is present for the first time. I’ll take mine in yellow, please.

In 1978, with less that 200 Countachs on the roads, an upgraded S model was introduced, with slightly less horsepower, a more macho, aggressive stance was created by fatter Pirellis, fibreglass arches an optional rear wing. There were various transitional models where ride height, alloy configuration, engine tweaks and interior styling details were introduced. The Countach was now reeking of testosterone. And is that a hint of Brut 33?

LP500S & 5000QV
This is the first manifestation of the full blown early-mid eighties version of the Countach that set our Ben Oliver’s heart a-flutter. Now the V12 was bored to 5.2 litres – and each of the cylinders blessed with four valves. That’s 48 of the damned things! The upgraded engine meant that a new lump and bumps were created that put paid to any rear visibility at all – but body styling louvres, shades and scalps made this the quintessential monster of 1980s yore. Greed was good. And the Countach was greedy for attention.

Countach 25 Anniversary
This was a step too far with the Countach. Influenced by Ferrari’s competitor in the Testarossa, there were side-skirts, louvres and restyled rear lights that watered down the brutality – and therefore the Countach’s essence. You can see the evolution of the Countach into its successor the Diablo, however, and for that it’s an interesting design study.


4 Responses to “Countach: Evolution of a Revolution”

  1. geoff walker

    It was a dog when first produced. There’s one in the Haynes Motor Museum at Sparkford and the build quality is frankly worse than a kit car. Nothing fits. It was impractical to drive and became uglier as it got older. The Urracco was FAR better

  2. Great amusement when a poser made a great show of getting his leggy blonde in then swinging th egull wing door open with a great flourish as we gawped enviously out of Langans’ restuarant window. Then absolure joy as he tried to fire the brute up on a flat battery. Priceless – as was the grimy old breakdown truck with regulation ape in a boiler suit with jump leads.