The Lamborghini Countach is mid-engine rear-wheel drive sports car produced from 1974 to 1990, and relaunched in 2021 as a hybrid model. The Countach model name broke from the Lamborghini tradition of using famous bulls and bullfighters. It is based on the word “contacc” from the Piedmontese language, meaning an exclamation of astonishment.
Lamborghini Countach Design and Build Up
The Countach follow up the Lamborghini Miura, which had started to show its age in the late 60s and early 70s as rival manufacturers like Ferrari had started to release new models. The design process started in 1970 in the Lamborghini engineering rooms, under Chief Engineer Paolo Stanzani and with Assistant Engineer Massimo Parenti. While the founder of the car maker, Ferruccio Lamborghini, had a great affinity toward the increased comfort of grand touring vehicles, he saw that there was a consumer push for an uncompromising sports car and allowed the design to go this route. The first iteration of the Countach was shown to the public at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show under the designation of LP500. It would take another three years of improvements until the 1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400 was ready for production.
Engine Design and Updates
The engine in the Countach was longitudinally-mounted, which was a major change from the predecessor Lamborghini Miura. This was made possible through an intricate design which placed the engine in the middle of the transmission and rear differential. The output shaft was placed at the front of the engine so that the 5-speed transmission could be place more forward and help center the vehicle weight. While the transmission was placed between the two seats in the middle of the car, the driveshaft went through the engine oil’s sump and then connected to the rear differential. This innovative design allowed for improved weight balancing, a shorter wheelbase, and faster shifting. The engine was based on the 3.9L V12 that had been used in various Lamborghinis including the 350 GT, 400 GT, Islero, Espada and Miura. But a desired increase in power led to a higher displacement 5L option being used in the prototype, until it self-destructed during test driving. As a result, the first production Countachs used the 3.9L engine tuned to 375 PS (370 horsepower) at 8,000 rpm, which was actually a decrease from the Miura due to a change in carburetors from a down-draft to side-draft. Eventually the engine received the desired increased displacement, with 4.8L coming in the 1982 LP500S, and 5.2L in the 1985 LP5000 Quattrovalvole (featuring four valves per cylinder). Final output power of the 5.2L reached 420 PS (414 hp). It also reverted back to the down-draft carburetor design, with some European models receiving six down-draft Weber carbs and put out 455 PS (449 hp) at 7,000 rpm.
Countach Ground-Breaking Design
Marcello Gandini of Bertone design studio returned to the Lamborghini name to produce the Countach. He had previously helped with the highly-successful Miura. He gravitated toward more angular designs and started playing with scissor-like doors on other projects for Alfa Romeo and Lancia, which eventually led to the sharp angle edges and scissor doors found on the Countach. When unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, the new design received much acclaim. It was lower than previous Lamborghinis and had a shorter wheelbase, yet was slightly wider. The doors quickly became one of the characteristic features from this supercar manufacturer.
The 2021 Hybrid Countach
In 2021, a re-release of the Lamborghini Countach hit the market. The LPI 800-4 is a mid-engine hybrid-electric sports car, breaking from the gasoline-only tradition that usually accompanies the name. It is heavily based on the previous Sián FKP 37 model, the first hybrid vehicle from Lamborghini. Only 112 models are expected to be produced of the LPI 800-4, which immediately sold out after release in 2021. It has combined output of 803 horsepower through its naturally-aspirated 6.5L V12 engine and 48-volt electric motor. The electric addition uses a unique supercapacitor design instead of lithium battery pack, and adds on another 34 horsepower.