Lamborghini today is known for exceptional sports cars with some extreme design ideas. That was not the case at all times. In the first decade as a sports car manufacturer they made more conventional vehicles. With the Miura, designed by then just 27-year-old Marcello Gandini, changed this condition a bit, but only its successor model laid the foundation for the brand’s reputation today.
In 1971 the Italians presented a design study at the Sant’Agata Bolognese factory, which was then to be sent to the Geneva Motor Show. According to various legends, the name of this sports car, once again designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, came from this presentation at the headquarters. Until then bore only the abbreviation LP500, now it was named Countach. This word is not the name of a fighting bull, as usually used by Lamborghini, but an exclamation of wonder and admiration from the Piedmont between Switzerland and Italy. Apparently a factory employee came from this region and could not hold back his surprise about the wedge-shaped car. The design was far ahead of its time and does not seem outdated today.
Three years passed until the market launch of the Countach. During this time optically hardly anything changed, but it received a slightly lower number as designation: LP400. LP stands for ‘Longitudinale Posteriore’, which means the rearward lengthwise mounted V12 engine, while the 400 points to the displacement of four liters. For current Lamborghini models this number refers to the horsepower. The first Countach generation tickles 375 PS from the mid-engine concept in the tubular frame, which makes the sports car 270 kph fast. Visually the LP400 stuck to a detail that earned it its nickname ‘Periscopio’. A recess in the middle of the roof releases the view through the rear-view mirror through a glass arranged in front of the recess – somewhat like the periscope on a submarine.
Lamborghini built the Countach in its original configuration for only four years. All later modelyears received a higher flat roof and over the years numerous other changes. Among collectors and brand fans, however, the early specimens are now particularly sought after – according to factory documents only about 150 have been made. So the recent offer from Artcurial during their auction at Le Mans Classic 2018 is very interesting. A Countach LP400, chassis number 1120062, manufactured in March and delivered in June 1975, went to the Saudi Prince Mansur Bin Mashal. In 1994 an Italian Lamborghini collector found the vehicle in the garage of a friend who had received it as payment for business in Saudi Arabia. At that time it was painted in white, but paintwork and tobacco brown interior were in deplorable condition from their time in Arabian sand storms. Only a few hundred kilometers were on the odometer.
After an extensive restoration including a repainting in its original paint color ‘Giallo Fly’, this Countach is back in best possible condition today. Some technical improvements such as larger cooling fans and a more powerful alternator benefit the drivability and reliability – as well as the more powerful air conditioning from the later Countach QV. Altogether about eight years passed for the full restoration, which was recorded in various pictures. After only 5,750 kilometers between 2003 and 2012, the Italian sold the car to Germany. Here another revision of the technical components was carried out in 2017. Of course, all the bills and the photos of the restoration are part of the auction lot, as well as all other documents and instructions. Artcurial expects a hammer price between 900,000 and 1,000,000 euros.
Images: Artcurial, Christian Martin