Car: Lamborghini Countach, 1971

Lamborghini’s Countach eclipsed even the company’s earlier Miura model as the ultimate exotic sports car.

1970 Lamborghini Countach
The Countach made an enormous impact on 1970s car fanatics; this prototype shows the purity of line later lost to spoilers and wide wheels.

The Miura’s voluptuous looks had caused a sensation in 1966, and now the Countach did it again. The car’s designer, Marcello Gandini at Bertone, was the same, but the Miura was broader and flatter in character. The cab-forward racer look on the new design highlighted the fundamental difference between Miura and Countach. The sensational V12 engine was the same and still mid-mounted but, in the new car, it was now positioned in-line, with the gearbox located between the driver and the passenger seats.

1971 car Lamborghini Countach
1971 car Lamborghini Countach
1971 Lamborghini Countach
1971 Lamborghini Countach

The 1971 LP500 show car, painted bright yellow, was the motoring pin-up of its time, with a 178mph (286kph) top speed. But changes were required before wealthy customers roared off in the first production version, named the LP400. In particular, the bodywork gained several prominent air ducts to ventilate the potent power unit. The Countach would be on sale until 1990, but later cars, while gaining bigger engines, also had towering aerofoils, bulges to cover the six repositioned carburetors, extended wheelarches, and enormously fat tires. Ironically, the aerodynamic addenda increased the car’s roadholding but blunted its top speed.

“You seem to be lying down in the bottom of a light bulb, clutching this tacky black doughnut of a wheel, and trying to imagine yourself doing the best part of 200mph. What a car!”

Doug Blain, Car Magazine, 1974

Video: Model of the car Lamborghini Countach

Specification: Model of the car Lamborghini Countach

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Modena, Italy
HISTORICAL STATUS: production car
ENGINE: V12-cylinder, 240–315ci (3,929–5,167cc)
MAXIMUM POWER: 455bhp (5,167cc)
LAYOUT: mid-mounted engine driving the rear wheels
BODYWORK: two-door, two-seater coupé
TOP SPEED: 178mph (286kph)