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Lamborghini Countach buying guide

Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach Anniversary Lamborghini Countach interior Lamborghini Countach engine Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach badge Even though it’s more than 40 years since the Countach design study made its debut, and with a whole raft of supercars appearing in the meantime, nothing has dulled the impact of perhaps the most brutal car design ever. While the Miura before it was lithe and beautiful, and its successors’ lines are somehow softer yet aggressive, the Countach’s styling is unspeakably savage.

If you’re Piedmontese, the name says it all: Countach! is the exclamation of shock, with no direct translation, uttered by Nuccio Bertone when he first saw the prototype for the Miura replacement. Believe it or not, the Lamborghini Countach was even more outlandish in prototype form than in production guise, and his stunned reaction upon seeing this early design study is completely understandable. The Countach didn’t just move the goalposts, it dispensed with them altogether.

It’s not just the aesthetics that are brutal though; the driving experience can be enough to knock you for six too. The Countach was never meant to be a compromising car, but it was astonishingly focused in terms of dynamics. Performance was always key, whether it was acceleration, cornering, braking or handling. Pirelli even came up with its ultimate performance tyre, the P7, so the Countach could become even more extreme.

It’s now more than two decades since the last Countach was built and, for a while, values were surprisingly low. In recent years they’ve started to climb sharply, though, with purchase costs often only the tip of the iceberg. That’s because these cars can prove fragile, while replacement parts are often eye-wateringly costly.

View from a Countach specialist

Mike Pullen has owned his LP400S for 21 years; along the way he’s had most Countach derivatives. He also runs Lamborghini specialist Carrera Sport, which maintains and restores a whole raft of Countaches for owners around the UK. Pullen comments: ‘In recent years the Countach has shed its medallion-man image, with the cars now seen as genuine classics. As a result, few buyers acquire them for regular use, but many examples were previously bought for this purpose. That’s why you need to check a car’s history carefully. Look for evidence of poor crash repairs as well as mechanicals that are worn out through regular thrashing.’

According to Pullen, the various Countach derivatives are all quite different to drive. Earlier cars are lighter, with more free-revving powerplants. These are the Countaches for purists who probably won’t use the car very much. The Countach got heavier and less tactile to drive as time went on; they also got more usable but less reliable as the complexity increased. What Lamborghini didn’t master throughout Countach production was rust prevention – even Anniversary models can corrode spectacularly if used on salty roads, then stored badly.

Where you buy your Countach is also important, according to Pullen. ‘The Countach is highly prized in North America and mainland Europe – especially in Germany. Asking prices for left-hand-drive cars are much higher there, with right-hand-drive examples more affordable as they’re sought after only in the UK. There are few early cars in the UK but these are the ones that are globally the most collectable.

Lamborghini Countach engine problems

The Countach’s V12 is one of the all-time great powerplants, and it’s pretty much bombproof. It looks great, sounds even better and gives the Countach performance to match the looks – but while it will take hard use in its stride, there’s a limit to how much abuse it can take. Poorly maintained engines don’t last long, so look for evidence of servicing over the years.

Some owners skimp on maintenance because even straightforward tasks can take an age, as there’s 12 of everything. For example, the valve clearances should be checked every 15,000 miles, but as it’s a two-day job (the carbs have to be removed) it’s one that’s often overlooked.

The V12 prefers semi-synthetic lubricants at around £30 for four litres. Even though the sump holds 16 litres, oil consumption shouldn’t be high, so once the fluid has been renewed it shouldn’t need to be topped up much between 6000-mile changes.

There are two oil pipes that run from the radiator at the front to the engine behind the cabin, via the sills. These pipes become porous with age, allowing lubricant to leak onto the right-hand sill. Check for an oily sill and/or puddles of lubricant under the car. Replacing the pipes costs £800.

Misfires are common once an engine bay has been allowed to get damp. It’s usually down to the electronic ignition system, with the Marelli module fitted to 4.8- and 5.2-litre cars a particular problem. Many examples have had a modern replacement by now; if you find a car that’s still got the original system fitted, budget for a new one.

If you’re looking at a 24-valve model, ensure the collar that locates the oil filter paper element is in place. Without it, the element won’t sit properly, allowing dirty oil to bypass it, ultimately ensuring the crankshaft journals are damaged. Once this happens you may get away with machining but you might need a new crankshaft at £4500. If a full engine rebuild is needed, including major bottom-end work, the bill could easily top £12,000.

How about the transmission?

Considering what it has to put up with, the transmission is usually amazingly durable. Unless drivers have been particularly harsh or ham-fisted, it should be in rude health – yet there are some areas that can give problems on high-mileage or really hard-driven cars.

The gearbox itself is strong and unlikely to need attention, but listen out for rumbling that implies bearings are on their way out. While no Countach transmission is quiet as such, one that’s about to self-destruct will be obvious. Major whining means the gears have worn, and replacing these, or the bearings, will mean a major gearbox rebuild, which can cost up to £8000.

It’s possible to eke up to 40,000 miles out of a clutch, but this isn’t common. Drive the car as Lamborghini intended and you’ll be doing well to get 20,000 miles out of a clutch, with replacement starting at £1650 depending on how many parts are needed. The engine has to come out for this job and, because the flywheel is supplied balanced with the cover attached, it’s not unusual to need a four-piece clutch kit (plate, cover, bearing and flywheel). Buy the full kit for an early car and it’s £8283; for an LP5000S it’s £6815 and the QV/Anniversary set is £5288. If a fresh clutch is needed or if the engine has to come out for any reason, the clutch slave cylinder will also need renewing. They’re fragile, and accessibility is a problem, but a new one is just £20.



Suspension, steering and brakes

Stub axles can fracture through ageing and hard use. Cars used regularly on track days are most likely to be affected, and especially on the nearside. Such breakages can be disastrous, so replacing them as a matter of course is a good idea if the originals are still fitted. With fresh bearings the job costs around £600 per side. Rear hubs can also break if the wheels have been heavily kerbed, but they can usually be welded up at £500 or so per side.

The suspension is potentially expensive to rebuild – largely because there are eight rose joints on each side at the rear. The handling deteriorates sharply once wear occurs; the wayward feel will be obvious, with a bill of £1650 likely to put it right.

Rattly suspension often points to worn rose joints, but it can be hard working out which end of the car the noises are emanating from. If you’re lucky, it might just be that the anti-roll bar brackets have worn, but it could also be wear in the rose joints for the anti-roll bars. There are two of these on each side of the bar, 
at each end of the car.

Your final suspension check should be that the tie rods aren’t bent or corroded. The car is often strapped down or jacked up using these, but they’re not designed for that. If bent, they can often be straightened.

The rear discs have separate handbrake calipers, which are prone to seizing. Freeing them off is easy enough but it’s worth checking that the car will roll when the handbrake is released.

The Pirelli P7s fitted to everything except the LP400 are now very hard to find, so Yokohamas or Pirelli P Zeros are the best alternative.

Bodywork, electrics and trim

Let’s start with the good news - all panels are available to revive even the most tired Countach so, no matter how dented or corroded the car is, it can be restored. Carrera Sport remanufactures some panels, while the factory offers just about anything you might need.

The bad news is that there’s a good chance some bodywork repairs will be needed, unless the car has been pampered from new or restored already. The earliest cars are the ones most prone to corrosion; later editions were reasonably well rustproofed, even if they weren’t always that well put together.

At the core of the Countach is a spaceframe chassis, over which are fitted hand-beaten alloy panels. The headlamp pods are steel, though, as are the roof panels. Because the Countach was hand-built, no two bodyshells are exactly alike, so fitting replacement panels is a skilled task.

Corrosion can strike anywhere, but the areas most prone to giving problems are the trailing edges of the front wings, where a steel former is incorporated. The glassfibre mouldings on the sills and wheelarches of later cars can hide corrosion, but this is likely only if the car has been used in salty conditions – in which case the rest of the body will also be the worse for wear.

Accident damage is as likely as corrosion, so look for ripples in the panelwork or indications of filler. Shutlines should be tight and even, and if panels don’t line up it’s likely that the car has been shunted at some point.

Like the bodyshell, the chassis is complex and repairs can be very involved. Corrosion is common as rustproofing was never these cars’ strong point; any fresh metal that’s been let in shouldn’t be immediately obvious – but it frequently is.

Working air-con is essential if you’re not to fry in hot weather, not least because the windows open just a few inches. The heat generated by the engine and transmission, combined with the effect of the sun through the expansive windscreen, ensure the cabin can take on sauna-like qualities. Replacing the various nylon hoses is £750, while for similar money a modern compressor can be installed as well.

The instrumentation and switchgear are reliable and all available and there isn’t much exterior trim to worry about. Retrimming an interior is easy enough. However, check that the windscreen is intact; they’re prone to cracking and replacements, which can be very costly, aren’t always available.

Should you buy a Lamborghini Countach?

For visual drama, no car can match a Countach, whether it’s the earlier, purer design, or the later, bespoilered edition. There are also few cars that can match the financial drama if major work is needed. Buy badly and you could easily end up forking out much more than the car’s value in mechanical and bodywork rebuild costs. The key is to speak to the main specialists, who will know about the best models out there; these cars are rare enough for individual examples to be well known by those in the trade.

Also, don’t wade in without seeing plenty of evidence of major expenditure over as long a period as possible. You can’t run a Countach cheaply, so insist on seeing all the bills to prove the car has been maintained properly, by someone who knows what they’re doing. There are good and bad examples out there, in equal measure. Find one of the former and you’ll find that the Countach is as good to own as it is to look at.

TIMELINE

1971: Countach makes its debut in prototype form at the Geneva Salon, with a 4971cc V12.
1972: Decision is made to put the Countach into production.
1973: Pre-production Countach is shown at the Geneva Salon.
1974: First production-ready Countach is shown, at the Geneva Salon. The first cars are then delivered in the summer. 150 LP400s are built.
1978: LP400S arrives, Pirelli P7 tyres and revised suspension. Periscope roof disappears. 466 are made.
1980: Smaller carbs (40DCOE Webers) to improve driveability. Power is cut to a claimed 353bhp.
1982: LP500S goes on sale, with 4754cc V12 and 45DCOE carbs, raising power back to 375bhp.
1985: Quattrovalvole edition is introduced as LP500S QV. 5167cc powerplant gives 455bhp, with a raised engine cover, wider front tyres and suspension geometry changes. 459 LP500s are made, in various forms.
1988: Anniversary Countach goes on sale, celebrating 25 years of Lamborghini.
1990: Final Countach leaves the line, after 1997 have been made.
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Lamborghini Countach cars for sale

8 Search results
Lamborghini Countach
274990 299995 GBP
  • 375 bhp, 3,929 cc DOHC 60-degree V-12 engine with six Weber 45 DCOE carburettors, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension coil springs with telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,450 mm • The most desirable Countach; one of 150 ‘Periscopo’ cars produced • Four owners and 57,843 km (less than 35,000 miles) from new • An original factory RHD example, delivered new to Australia To many enthusiasts and automakers, concept cars are considered a tease, and nothing more. Meant to stimulate the public and show vehicles that “could be” rather than “will be” in the future, they are intended to provide a study in the evolution of a given brand’s design language. Far too often, concepts with radical, show-stopping designs do not make their way to production, halted by the bean counters in fear that the costs will be far too great. Certain styling cues might see the light of day further down the road, but seldom does an entire automobile make its way from concept to production largely intact. This is not so with the Lamborghini Countach. The design language on the prototype Countach LP500 was designed to shock and awe the mo

    • Year: 1977

    • Last update: 2 days old

    For sale
  • RM Auctions
    +1 954 566 2209
    see details
  • 375 bhp, 3,929 cc DOHC V-12 engine with six twin-throat Weber 45 DCOE carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, unequal length A-arm front suspension with coil springs and an anti-roll bar, upper lateral-link rear suspension with lower A-arms, coil springs, and an anti-roll bar, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.5 in. One of just 50 Countach LP400S Series Is produced, and the second to last U.S.-specification example Fitted with the desirable Weber 45 DCOE carburetors Finished in the desirable Tahiti Blue over black Accompanied by original books and tools Lamborghini’s LP400S, the second variant of the iconic Countach, was launched four years after the production Countach LP400 was introduced at the Geneva Salon in 1974. While the original car created nothing short of a fanfare, it goes without saying that the LP400S had a big act to follow, and Lamborghini wasn’t going to let it disappoint. The Countach was still very much in style, and Lamborghini knew it was best to change the car’s aesthetics very little to retain the car’s unique personality. In order to be successful and a good following act for the LP400, the LP400S would have to retain the same distinct flair of

    • Year: 1979

    • Last update: 6 days old

    For sale
  • RM Auctions
    +1 954 566 2209
    see details
  • 420 bhp, 5,167 cc DOHC V-12 engine with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.5 in Two owners and under 600 kilometers from new Finished in the highly desirable Nero over Nero with gold wheels Perhaps one of the finest Countaches extant Calling the Lamborghini Countach “groundbreaking” would be an understatement. It has been one of the most recognizable cars of its time since leaving the crowd at the 1971 Geneva Auto Show flabbergasted upon its unveiling. The Miura, the predecessor to the Countach, set the industry standard for supercars when it was introduced, and the Countach showed that Lamborghini still had one more trick up its sleeve. Just like the Miura, there was nothing on sale at the time that came close to the Countach in terms of visual appeal or overall automotive panache, and it was destined to become a future classic. Marcello Gandini’s angular design typified the design language of the 1980s nearly 10 years in advance. The car was highlighted by its eye-catching, upward-hinged “scissor doors,” and eve

    • Year: 1988

    • Last update: 6 days old

    For sale
  • RM Auctions
    +1 954 566 2209
    see details
  • 449 bhp, 5,167 cc V-12 engine with six Weber carburettors, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel Girling ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 2,450 mm • Fewer than 8,000 kilometres from new • Recently and thoroughly serviced, including a complete engine overhaul • The most refined and driveable iteration of the legendary Countach In celebration of the company’s 25th anniversary, Lamborghini released a further updated and slightly restyled version of its celebrated Countach. It was unveiled at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix at Monza and would become, to many, the most desirable iteration of the car. With almost 500 subtle changes over its predecessor, the 5000 QV, the new Countach retained the same striking visual panache and incredible performance that Lamborghini’s customers had come to know and love. Although the full complement of updates are far too numerous to iterate here in full, the 25th Anniversary Countach’s bodywork was redesigned by none other than Horacio Pagani. He lifted the nose slightly and fitted updated and more harmonious bumpers in the front and rear. The two most notice

    • Year: 1989

    • Last update: 4 days old

    For sale
  • RM Auctions
    +1 954 566 2209
    see details
  • Category Coupe Make Lamborghini Model Countach QV Engine power 335 kW / 455 PS Transmission Manual Kilometres 27.900 km Date of first registration 01.07.1988 Total price Price on request Value Added Tax not reclaimable (§ 25a UStG) Sales advisor for this vehicle >>

    • Year: 1988

    • Last update: 28 days old

    For sale
  • Auto Salon Singen
    07731 99 55 44
    see details
  • £299,995 £299,995

    This stunning LHD Countach is the highly desirable 88 1/2 version, which featured a 48 valve engine on carburettors, improved suspension geometry and more subdued body styling. It has had one (company chairman) owner and is in superb condition throughout, having travelled only 55,000 kms from new with comprehensive history. The Rosso Siviglia paintwork and Senape interior are in excellent condition, and the car drives exactly as it should. Benefiting from a specialist engine refresh and factory gearbox rebuild less than 5,000 miles ago. Fitted with a sports exhaust and recent tyres on special order white wheels. Acknowledged by experts as the best driving version of this fast appreciating and iconic 'poster car'

    • Year: 1988

    • Last update: 28 days old

    • Mileage: 34000 mi

    For sale
  • Cheshire Classic Cars
    01244 529500
    see details
  • The iconic Lamborghini Countach was THE poster car from the seventies and eighties. This outrageously styled car is so different from any other sportscar from that era, that it is a real surprise it took so long to become a top collectors car. Since a couple of years, it has finally received the attention it deserved, and it is now one of the most sought after supercars in the world. No wonder though : with a fantastic mid-mounted Lamborghini V12 engine, and a Marcello Gandini designed body, it is the one and only successor of the illustrious Miura. It was also the first Lamborghini with scissor doors, a styling feature which became a trademark for the sportscar manufacturer of Sant'Agata Bolognese. This example is a rare LP400 S. It was the wilder version of the famous LP400, nowadays also referred to as "Periscopo". The most radical changes were in the exterior, where the tyres were replaced with much wider Pirelli P7 units, and fiberglass wheel arch extensions were added, giving the car the fundamental look it kept until the end of its production run. An optional V-shaped spoiler was available over the rear deck, which improved the high speed stability. An angular "S" was added

    • Year: 1980

    • Last update: 19 days old

    • Mileage: 1426 mi

    For sale
  • Albion Motorcars
    +32 (0)3 765 09 17
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  • In 1985 the engine of the existing iterations of the Countach was improved again, bored and stroked to 5.2 litres (5,167 cc) and given four valves per cylinder (hence quattrovalvole). The six Weber carburettors were moved from the sides to the top of the engine for better breathing. As a result, these downdraft carburettors helped the engine produce 455 bhp, while also creating the need for the iconic hump which so famously hampered the car's rear visibility. The update to the carburettors, in conjunction with the strong angular styling, makes this one of the most desirable Countach versions. 610 cars were built. Supplied on the 3rd August 1988, this Countach 5000 QV is one of the 14 right hand drive supplied as the "88 1/2" model which featured the Anniversary sills. Chassis no 12410 has only had four owners in total and has been serviced and cared for correctly unlike many other examples. Finished in Rosso Siviglia with Beige hide and Brown Carpets, the original spare wheel, tool roll and Alpine stereo system are all still present. Bordeaux seat piping. Still an awesome machine by todays standards, the Countach has lost none of it presence since the day it was launched. The car i

    • Year: 1988

    • Last update: 26 days old

    For sale
  • Simon Furlonger
    01233 646328
    see details
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