The Lamborghini Countach is arguably one of the most interesting-looking vehicles ever made, as its “Italian Wedge” shape, which looks like an elongated horizontal diamond, was a weird design back when it was first produced in 1974. However, the peculiar design wouldn’t stay weird for long, as many car manufacturers have started copying the design of the Countach due to its popularity among car enthusiasts. Before the Countach became a production model, it was first known as a concept car called Lancia Stratos Zero in 1970. What made Lamborghini make the concept car into a production model? We will find out as we take a look at the history of the Lamborghini Countach.
Development of the Countach
The Countach’s development started when founder Ferruccio Lamborghini gave a task to his engineers to create a successor to the Lamborghini Miura, one of their more popular models during the late 60s. Lamborghini believed that the Miura is already outdated as their competitors have already produced models that have better specs, like the Ferrari Daytona.
In 1970, the design team led by chief engineer Paolo Stanzani started to create a prototype for the successor, which they named the “LP112.” Stanzani and Ferruccio Lamborghini both decided to give the successor a more aerodynamically efficient design that improves its speed without taking so much power from the engine. The founder then gave permission to the design team to push the boundaries of what they could achieve with the prototype, so Stanzani added a rear mid-engine and rear-wheel-drive layout, which was quite rare during that time. The team also designed the prototype to have scissor doors that open upwards, and these doors would eventually become common in many sports cars in the future.
After one year of designing and finalizing the prototype, it was then officially shown at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show with the name “LP500.” After the successful showcase, the design team worked on the prototype for three years until they were finally satisfied with the design and its performance. The first production model would be named the “LP400 Countach” in 1974.
Besides the LP500, there were two other prototypes that were produced and tested before the Lamborghini design team finally created a model that is perfect for production. Here are the three prototypes produced before the introduction of the Lamborghini Countach.
As mentioned earlier, the LP500 was the first prototype for the Countach that was displayed during the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. The LP500 was built with a partial spaceframe steel chassis that is much heavier than the steel used for the production model. This prototype also features a bright yellow finish to further emphasize its unique design.
It was originally fitted with a 5.0-liter V12 engine, but when it was destroyed and was deemed too dangerous for the vehicle during testing, it was replaced with a downgraded 3.9-liter V12 engine, which would then become the one that will be used for the LP400 production model. As for the fate of the LP500, it was reported to have been destroyed during a crash test at the HORIBA MIRA facility in England.
Green Prototype (Chassis Number 1120001)
The green prototype with the chassis number 1120001 was produced in 1973 and was shown at the 1973 Geneva Motor Show and the 1973 Paris Motor Show. During the Geneva show, the prototype was painted with a red finish, but before it was shown at the Paris convention, the design team decided to paint it green.
This prototype features parts that were not used for the production model, such as trapezoidal windows and a bumperless nose. However, the green prototype uses a 3.9-liter V12 engine that will then be used for the LP400. As of 2020, the green prototype is displayed at the Lamborghini factory museum.
Third Prototype (Chassis Number 1120002)
The third and last prototype for the Countach was first shown at the 1974 Geneva Motor Show. Most of its parts are made from the Lamborghini factory, but its chassis is produced by Marchesi of Modena, who had also manufactured chassis for earlier Lamborghini models.
This third prototype was painted yellow, much like the first prototype, and has multiple features that would eventually become common in the production model. The windows have a three-panel design as opposed to the trapezoidal windows seen in previous prototypes. For increased durability, the sheet metal that determined the thickness of the body was changed to 1.5mm from 1.2mm used from the first and second prototypes.
Because of the popularity of the LP400, Lamborghini chose to constantly improve upon the first production model’s features, thus leading to the creation of four more models intended to be sold to the public. Here are the production models of the Lamborghini Countach.
The LP400 was produced in 1974 and featured a 3.9-liter V12 engine and a design that doesn’t stray far away from the third prototype. This first production model also sports narrow tires, which improves the overall sleekness of the vehicle but decreases its durability. Just four years after the start of the LP400’s production, Lamborghini produced the second production model in order to enhance and modify the Countach’s features and thus enticed more people to buy the model. Despite being replaced by a new model, many car enthusiasts and critics consider the LP400 as one of the greatest cars ever made.
The LP400S was introduced in 1978 and featured a downgraded but much more reliable engine. However, the most significant change that the LP400S has over the LP400 is its aesthetics, as it has wider Pirelli P7 tires, fiberglass wheel arch extensions, and an optional V-shaped rear wing. The controls or handling of the LP400S is improved thanks to its wider tires, and drivers will be able to decrease their top speed if the rear wing is installed to prevent speeding accidents. There are three series that were created for the LP400S, which are the Series One (50 produced), the Series Two (105 produced), and the Series Three (82 produced).
The LP500 S began being sold in 1982 as an improved model over the LP400S. However, the improvements are actually seen in the interior instead of the exterior, as the LP500 S features sleeker seats that are more comfortable to sit in for both the driver and the passenger. There are only 321 LP500 S models that were produced from 1982 to 1984.
Introduced in 1985, the LP5000 is supposed to be the most advanced Countach, as it has a 5.2-liter engine, a Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection system, Weber carburetors, and Kevlar body panels. Unfortunately, because the carburetors of the LP5000 were placed on top of the engine instead of its side, they created a hump on the engine’s cover that decreased the rear visibility of the vehicle. There were 610 units made for the LP5000.
25th Anniversary Edition
In honor of the Countach’s twenty-fifth anniversary in 1988, Lamborghini produced the 25th Anniversary Countach, which looks similar to the LP5000 Quattrovalvole but is slightly redesigned by Italian-Argentine engineer Horacio Pagani. Most of the improvements in this edition are supposed to follow the trends in the automobile industry during the late 80s, and most people saw similarities of the 25th Anniversary Edition to the then-popular Ferrari Testarossa. This particular production model was manufactured until 1990 when it was replaced by the Lamborghini Diablo.
The Lamborghini Countach is one of the most innovative vehicles in the history of automobiles, as its aerodynamic design has been mimicked or copied by many other car manufacturers from the 70s up to the 90s. While Lamborghini has moved on from the Countach and made other models with better features and performance, the LP400 would never be forgotten by many, especially since it has a high price in the resale market.