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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.
Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach Anniversary Lamborghini Countach interior Lamborghini Countach engine Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach Lamborghini Countach badge
Last updated: 4th Dec 2014
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Lamborghini Countach cars for sale

13 Search results
Lamborghini Countach
204750 549050 GBP
  • Lot r124
    Battersea Evolution
    Auction Date: 07 Sep 2015
    RESERVE PRICE
    Last update: 3 Days Old
    Auction Date: 07 Sep 2015
  • RM Sotheby's
    +1 519 352 4575
    see details
  • This 1989 Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Edition is a beautiful original example. Red with tan interior and just 30k kilometers. It' been under the same ownership for the last 20 years and runs and drives excellent. Original paint and interior. For only $315,000

    • Year: 1989

    Last update: 13 Days Old
    For sale
  • Gullwing Motor Cars
    718-545-0500 
    see details
  • One would be hard pressed to find a car more iconic than the Lamborghini Countach. Few cars are so ingrained in minds of impressionable youth from the 1980s, and few are likely to match the Countach for its “bedroom wall poster” cred. The Countach has become almost a household name, even for non-car enthusiasts. Its origins trace back to the late 60’s when Lamborghini was best known for its wild Miura. Considered by many to be the first supercar of the modern era, the Miura was undoubtedly fast and gorgeous, but it was also a suffered from dubious handling. With the Miura nearing the end of its run, Lamborghini needed to develop a successor that was worthy of following in the Miura’s rather large, Pirelli-shod footsteps. Chief engineer Paulo Stanzani charged his team with developing a chassis that was more stable and had better road holding. This time, the new car, dubbed LP500 ( longitudinale posterior e) had a longitudinally mounted V12 in place of the transverse V12 of the Miura. The signature edgy design was penned by a young Marcello Gandini, employed by Bertone at the time. When it debuted in four liter form, the wild, edgy LP400 elicited the word “ Countach! ” from an employ

    • Year: 1989

    Last update: 14 Days Old

    • Mileage: 183 mi

    For sale
  • Hyman Ltd
    314 524 6000
    see details
  • Radical in design, wickedly fast and only ever produced in very limited numbers, this Horacio Pagani designed 25th Anniversary Countach was the poster child for an entire generation of motoring enthusiasts. With 500 subtle updates over its predecessor, the new Countach featured a redesigned front bumper for more efficient cooling, new rear bumper and larger body coloured strakes for the top mounted rear air-intakes, electric windows along with more powerful air-conditioning, a new steering wheel and electric adjustable seating, and underneath handling was also improved allowing this series to reach 0-100 in just 4.7 seconds. Just 30 right hand drive examples were ever produced and this rare example is 1 of only 5 Australian delivered cars. Remarkably well presented with low kilometers and optioned from factory in the iconic 80's and incredibly desirable colour combination of white over tan, this rare example is a true collectors item. The most advanced variation of the Countach series, power delivery, handling and driver focused cockpit refinement were of upmost importance for Lamborghini. When driving this example, it's easy to see, hear and feel how well this car has been maintai

    • Year: 1989

    Last update: 14 Days Old
    For sale
  • Classic Throttle Shop
    +61 (0)2 9922 2036
    see details
  • 1985 Lamborghini Countach 5000S s/n ZA9C00500FLA12740, engine no. 12740 White with Beige Interior There is perhaps no more widely recognizable or iconic car than the Lamborghini Countach. Much has been written about the car, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but the one thing that is impossible to do is ignore it. Developed as a successor to the remarkable and stunning Miura, the Countach created an equally large, if not larger stir when first introduced. The idea that such a totally futuristic and over the top car could possibly be intended for production was inconceivable, but in Lamborghini’s tradition, the car was readied for production largely unaltered. The car was produced for about 15 years in various forms, with later cars gaining fuel-injection and aesthetically intrusive US bumpers which dulled performance. Although they were ignored by collectors for decades, they have recently emerged as highly collectible cars thanks to their tremendous cultural significance as a genuine 1980s icon. Certainly there are few cars that are more instantly recognizable or have spent as much time on the bedroom walls as the Countach. This particular car was imported to the US many yea

    • Year: 1985

    Last update: 5 Days Old

    • Mileage: 61774 mi

    For sale
  • Fantasy Junction
    +1 510 653 7555
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  • --Black with Beige leather interior and Tan carpeting, 18,000 miles – 30,000 kilometers and two owners from new, 1 of only 13 Countach’s imported to the USA by Lamborghini, Excellent ownership and service history. Widely regarded as the most outrageous car ever built, the Countach represented the promise automotive design throughout the 70s and 80s, no car before or since has the presence of a Countach. While most of the 610 Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole models imported into the USA from 1985 to 1988 were outfitted with a Bosch Electronic fuel-injection system, only 13 models fitted with downdraft carburetors arrived at U.S. ports before the EPA and DOT banned Lamborghini from importing them. This 1986 model is one such carbureted example. Over the years, the Countach evolved, gaining in strength and power as there were successive increases in the displacement. Regardless, the 5000 QV downdraught carb cars are the most powerful of the Countach model range from beginning to end of production with its 5.2 liter V-12 engine with four valves per cylinder, Weber downdraught carburetors and a power output of 455 bhp. This exceptionally low mileage Countach 5000 QV was sold new by Baltimor

    • Year: 1986

    Last update: 14 Days Old

    • Mileage: 18000 mi

    For sale
  • Autosport Designs Inc
    (631) 726-0770
    see details
  • Only 150 cars produced RHD Engine rebuilt 20 years ago Complete with its tool roll and extensive history file, including owner's manual, original warrenty card, and delivery documents The LP400 Periscopio is the most desirable Countach, with only 150 cars produced. This lovely example has travelled only 58,000 kilometres (less than 35,000 miles) from new, and is a factory RHD which was delivered new to Australia. The car has a fascinating history. By arrangement with the Australian importers the first owners collected it directly from the Lamborghini factory, and proceeded to go on a grand tour of Europe. Two weeks later, the car returned to the factory for a routine service with 3,449 kilometres on the odometer! Its first owners continued to enjoy the car in Europe and the UK for several months, and after a service in June 1978 in the UK, with 16,276 kilometres showing on its odometer, the car was shipped to Australia, where it would live for the next 36 years. Shortly after returning to Australia, the car was converted to LP400S specification, but this was immediately reversed by the current owner when he purchased the car in September 2005, apart from the upgraded rear suspensio

    • Year: 1977

    Last update: 3 Days Old

    • Mileage: 35000 mi

    For sale
  • Cheshire Classic Cars
    01244 529500
    see details
  • 523 MILES ONLY! Right Hand Drive Unique and unrepeatable The poster car of its era, the Lamborghini Countach became and remains today the automotive equivalent of a pin-up and something of a fantasy object of desire. Countach was styled by Marcello Gandini of the Bertone design studio, the same designer and studio that designed the Miura. Gandini was then a young, inexperienced designer — not very experienced in the practical, ergonomic aspects of automobile design, but at the same time unhindered by them. Gandini produced a striking design. The Countach shape was wide and low (42.1 inches (1.07 m)), but not very long (only 163 inches (4.1 m)). Its angular and wedge-shaped body was made almost entirely of flat, trapezoidal panels. Lamborghinis trademark 'scissor' doors first started with the Countach, hinged at the front with horizontal hinges, so they lifted up and tilted forwards. The main reason is the car's tubular spaceframe chassis results in very high and wide door sills. It was also partly for style, and partly because the width of the car made conventional doors difficult to use in an even slightly confined space. The longitudinally mounted 12-cylinder 5.2 Litre produces everything one might expect of a car of this type, not only in performance terms but also by exhaust note. Our car at only 523 miles must be the lowest mileage example in existence and without doubt it is the finest available for sale. The striking combination of Nero Black coachwork, against Snow White leather, truly deserves the admiration it attracts. Ready to be enjoyed, this is the ultimate collectors Countach and with its ultra low mileage it will surely continue to rocket in value!  As much at home on the Kings Road or the Riviera as on the open road between.

    Last update: 3 Days Old

    • Mileage: 523 mi

    For sale
  • DD Classics
    0208 8783355
    see details
  • Lamborghini Countach 25 Anniversary Built in 1990 to celebrate 25 years of the Countach this is the fastest and most refined of all the versions of the iconic Countach. Fitted with the optional and desirable rear wing. This is probably the best example of the iconic poster car of the 1980's and 90's - great condition, history and mileage. A one owner car with only 4000 miles (7000kms), it was delivered to its French owner in 1990, and remained in his collection for nearly 25 years. Finished in striking Rosso Red with Beige interior, this car remains superbly original, and is complete with its original service books, and document wallet as well as original invoice from Lamborghini Paris.

    • Year: 1990

    Last update: 14 Days Old
    For sale
  • Simon Furlonger
    01233 646328
    see details
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