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Lamborghini Countach: Buying guide and review (1974-1990)

Lamborghini Countach: Buying guide and review (1974-1990) Classic and Performance Car
Lamborghini Countach (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach interior (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach engine (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach interior (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach badge (Image: Tom Salt)
Even though it’s more than 45 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. 
 
The car’s a legend. So was the Lamborghini Miura, even then, but to keep refining that would have been too predictable for Ferruccio Lamborghini. He wanted something that felt less dangerous and raucous to drive fast, but overall even more startling. His tiny team was tasked with thinking again, and laterally.
 
Gian Paolo Dallara, the Miura’s creator, had left, and so 34-year-old Paolo Stanzani was given the daunting dual role of chief engineer and factory manager. Steel-nerved New Zealander Bob Wallace, 33, continued as development test-driver. 
 
This time, Stanzani positioned the 5.0-litre engine north-south, with the gearbox attached to the front and protruding between the seats. The super-direct gearlever sprouted directly from the top, no complex gear linkages needed, but, to link the gearbox to the rear differential, Stanzani schemed a long shaft heading backwards through the engine block.
 
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 25 years 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. 
 

Which Lamborghini Countach to buy? 

 
Lamborghini kept the Countach in production for a long time, and it went through a number of various evolutions. The very first LP400 model is the purest and most valuable of all Countach variants. Known as the Perescopo (thanks to the spy hole in the roof to aid rear visibility), the narrow tyres, lighter bodywork and free-revving engine make this arguably the sweetest car to drive. These are the Countaches for purists who probably won’t use the car very much.
 
The LP400S came along in 1978, with wide arches and new low-profile Pirelli P7 tyres. It also received updated suspension and much better brakes, giving the Countach much higher cornering limits. Due to the new bodywork, top-end performance was actually blunted. 
 
This was remedied in 1982 with the launch of the LP500S, bringing in a much torquier 4754cc engine along with revised gearing. This car is much easier to drive quickly, making a lot more use of the wider low-profile rubber. The huge rear spoiler was also an (unofficial) factory option at this point. 
 
1985 saw the introduction of what many (including Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni) consider to be the ultimate incarnation of the Countach, the 5000 QV. This car brought in four-valve cylinder heads, and an enlarged 5.2-litre engine capacity to unleash a Ferrari-beating 450bhp. 
 
This then morphed into the Anniversary model for 1988, which brought in a new look. Some love the looks, while other hate it, but it’s arguably the best version to actually live with due to the uprated cooling system, although it’s almost identical to the QV behind the wheel. 
 
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. 
 
‘Only drivers smaller than Tom Cruise need apply, they’re not very quick, the handling’s rubbish’. These are some of the stereotypical things banded around about the Coutach, however most of it is utter rubbish. The cabin is actually a very nice place to be, with the seats going back far enough for six-footers to get comfortable, while there is also quite a lot of adjustment in the steering wheel. The only issue is the low roof, but avoid the rare electric ‘comfort’ seats fitted in a few Anniversary models, and you should be fine.
 

Performance and specs

 
Engine V12, 5167cc 
Power 449bhp @ 7000rpm 
Torque 464lb ft @ 5200rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual
0-62mph 4.8secs
Top speed 185mph
 

Dimensions and weight 

 
Wheelbase 2500mm
Length 4200mm
Width 2000mm
Height 1070mm
Kerb weight 1490kg
 

Common problems 

 
• The Countach’s V12 is one of the all-time great powerplants, and it’s pretty much bombproof. 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. 
 
• 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. 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.  
 
• 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. 
 
• The gearbox 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.
 
• 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.
 
• 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. 
 
• 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. 
 
• 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. 
 
• All body panels are available to revive even the most tired Countach. Carrera Sport remanufactures some panels, while the factory offers just about anything you might need for a full restoration. 
 
• There’s a good chance some bodywork repairs will be needed, unless the car has been pampered from new or restored already. 
 
• 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. 
 
• Working air-con is essential if you’re not to fry in hot weather. Replacing the various nylon hoses is £750, while for similar money a modern compressor can be installed as well. 
 
• The dashboard instrumentation and switchgear are reliable and all available, while there isn’t much exterior trim to worry about. Retrimming the seats and interior is easy enough. 
 
• Check that the windscreen is intact; they’re prone to cracking and replacements, which can be very costly, aren’t always available. 
 

Model history

 
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.
 

Owners clubs, forums and websites

 
 

Summary and prices 

 
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. 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.
 
Values have been rising quickly over the last few years, but it’s the early cars that are the real hot property. Today, the most valuable is the earliest Periscopo, which can sell for £700,000-£1,000,000, while a regular LP400 will sell for £300,000-£500,000. The wide-bodied LP400S and LP500S is considerably more affordable, ranging from £200,000-£300,000, with the QV models usually costing around £20k-£30k more.
Lamborghini Countach (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach interior (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach engine (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach interior (Image: Tom Salt) Lamborghini Countach badge (Image: Tom Salt)
Last updated: 25th Aug 2016
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Lamborghini Countach
354995 1225000 GBP
  • 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400

    $1,225,000(£0) $1,225,000(£0)

    Developing a replacement for the ground-breaking Miura was bound to be a challenge, even for Lamborghini’s young and profoundly talented engineering team. The Miura had caused a sensation with its breathtakingly beautiful lines courtesy of the genius Marcello Gandini at Bertone. It was also an engineering masterpiece, with the world’s first mid-mounted transverse engine that cleverly incorporated the gearbox for efficient packaging. The Miura was the world’s fastest car upon debut, credited with being the father of the modern supercar. However, the competition from Ferrari was fierce, and in the early 1970s time came to design a suitable replacement. Lamborghini’s brilliant chassis engineer Paolo Stanzani’s first order of business was to give the new car – codenamed “Project 112” – more predictable handling. The Miura had storming performance, but it was also quite tricky to handle at high speeds, the transverse layout caused rapid weight transfer which could unstick the rear, causing many a Miura to careen off the road tail-first. Stanzani solved this by placing the engine longitudinally, with a forward-facing gearbox driving the rear wheels via an encased driveshaft. The layout required a new block and sump design for the 4.0 liter V12, but the improvements to handling and shift quality were well worth the effort. A robust tubular steel chassis was developed to accommodate the new running gear, and Lamborghini again turned to Bertone to design a body worthy of the exotic new underpinnings. As before, Gandini delivered a stunning, futuristic design. The LP500 (Longitudinal-Posteriore, 5-liters) was the antithesis of the curvaceous Miura. Edgy, sharp and aggressive, the wedge shape was impossibly low, with a broad, flat windscreen, trapezoidal shapes, and body sides punctuated with distinct slash-cut wheel arches. The unique scissor doors were the final flourish on a truly ground-breaking design. When one of the factory workers first saw the prototype, he exclaimed “Countach!” - An expression of astonishment in the local Piedmontese dialect. After extensive development, the body was revised to allow for better cooling, and the fragile 5-liter engine dropped in favor of the proven 4-liter unit. Development stretched out over three years, but once the final production LP400 Countach debuted, it lost little of its shock value. Through multiple guises and sixteen years of production, the Countach has long been the archetypal supercar. While there have been faster, more extreme versions, it is the pure, uncluttered LP400 that has captured the attention of collectors in recent years. This breathtaking 1975 Lamborghini LP400 Countach is the 45th car produced and one of just 150 total early-style “Periscopio” models. According to the previous owner, this car was completed on April 11th, 1975 and delivered new via the distributor AGECO of Beirut, Lebanon to Prince Bandar Bin Saud of Saudi Arabia, optioned with sports exhaust and adjustable Koni suspension. It remained with the Royal Family for several years before being gifted to their American personal physician, Dr. Terry Bennett. It saw very limited use with both owners, amassing fewer than 8,600 miles from new. At some point, it was repainted from its original black to Amaranto, and it joined a California-based collection. In the hands of its most recent owner, it has been treated to a bare-metal respray and restoration. It was previously believed that the car was originally red, however, factory records indicate was black over a white interior. It is now presented in striking Tahitian Blue over tan/blue interior and shows with fine quality paintwork and excellent panel fit. Detailing is sharp, and none of the original drama has been lost in the restoration. The interior was subsequently restored to a very high standard, using correct-type leather, carpets, and soft trim. Seats, console, and sills are trimmed in beautiful tan leather which shows virtually no use since completion. Blue Wilton carpets provide a pleasing contrast to the hides, and the dash is covered in the correct brownish “mouse hair” suede. Original Stewart-Warner gauges feature in the space-age dash, with the unusual vertical odometer showing a touch over 13,800 kilometers. This car is equipped with factory air conditioning (a necessity in the Saudi desert), and it retains a period correct radio, original switchgear, and even the original Britax seatbelts. Lamborghini’s legendary 4-liter V12 runs beautifully, thanks to an engine-out rebuild by John Whittington of Woodstock, Virginia. As part of the rebuild, the heads were sent to Bob Wallace, Lamborghini’s famed development engineer and a key player in seeing the LP400 through to production. A bespoke run-in stand was built so the engine could be appropriately sorted and tuned before going back in the car where access is limited. The Ansa sports exhaust was restored and re-fitted. Numerous receipts for both the engine and body restoration are included. Lamborghini made extensive use of magnesium in the chassis and drivetrain so these early LP400s are significantly lighter than their later siblings, giving them surprisingly deft handling. In recent years, the Lamborghini Countach LP400 has captured the hearts of collectors. The pure form, devoid of the spoilers and flares of later cars, reflects the brilliance of Gandini’s original concept. We are pleased to offer this beautiful example, benefitting from limited use and an extensive recent restoration. It has had limited public outings, with its only show appearance coming at the inaugural Greenbrier Concours d’Elegance in 2018. It is a beautifully presented LP400, ready to wow onlookers in a show or to enjoy on tours and rallies worldwide.

    For sale
    $1,225,000(£0) $1,225,000(£0)
    Hyman Ltd
    314-524-6000 View contact number
  • Lamborghini Countach

    £449,975 £449,975

    Variant: 5000 S RHD Only 5,000m and 1 Owner Black, The outrageously Bertone styled Lamborghini Countach was the original "poster car" of the Seventies and Eighties, adorning the walls of car enthusiasts the world over. After the svelte Miura, arguably the first supercar, it was an in-your-face statement that the company has made its trademark – at a time when supercars are ten a penny, nothing else looks quite like a Countach. This extremely rare LP5000 S variant is 1 of only 23 RHD UK cars from a total of 321 worldwide. This fine example has only had 1 Owner from new and was originally supplied through Portman Lamborghini and came with the only two available options: Alpine Stereo, Rear Wing. it comes with an extensive history file including Service Invoices, Mot's, Tax Discs, Ect. It has it's original Handbooks, Service Book and Owners Manual together with the original Tool Kit, Spare Wheel and Spare Keys. The Campagnolo stickers are still on the wheels and Vitaloni stickers on the door mirrors. Presented in incredible original condition with only 5,000 documented miles this LP5000 S is a great investment opportunity.

    • Year: 1983
    • Mileage: 5000 mi
    • Engine size: 4.7
    For sale
    £449,975 £449,975
  • 1975 LAMBORGHINI Countach LP400 'Periscopio'

    POA POA

    1975 LAMBORGHINI COUNTACH LP400 COUPE PERISCOPE Chassis No. 112 006 2 This car left Sant'Agata Bolognese factory in March 1975 and was first registered on the 1st of June of that year to Prince Mansour Bin Mashal of Saudi Arabia. It is the 31st of the 150 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscope built. Originally delivered in Giallo-Fly with a tobacco leather interior, this car was discovered painted in White in Saudi Arabia in 1987 by an Italian car collector. The car was then re-imported in Italy and stayed untouched until 1994. In 1994, it was bought by Mr. Giudice, with 5000 original kms on the clock. He then started a complete restoration that finally ended up 8 years later! Today, the car is back to its original combinaison of Yellow Fly over a Tobacco leather interior. It is in perfect condition. The interior was retrimed in Italy by Paratelli, in 2012. The odometer shows 5750 Kms. German title.

    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1981 LAMBORGHINI Countach LP 400S

    POA POA

    1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400 S The Lamborghini Countach was first displayed to the public for the first time at the 1971 Geneva salon. The definitive version was presented at the 1973 Geneva salon and entered production for Europe in 1974, with examples sent to the first customers the following year. Four years later, Lamborghini launched the Countach LP400 S. Performance remained incredible, and the car boasted a top speed of more than 290 km/h (179.8 mph). Our car, chassis no.1121296, is one of only 237 Lamborghini LP400 S examples produced. The car was delivered new in Switzerland where it resides until we bought it. . With only 3 owners from new, this Countach LP400S is in excellent unrestored and original condition, with only 46,172 Kms from new, its original paint and interior. The LP400S has always been carefully maintaided and runs perfectly. Swiss papers. EU taxes paid. Documented with service invoices

    • Mileage: 46172 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1975 LAMBORGHINI Countach LP400 Coupe Periscope

    POA POA

    This matching number Lamborghini Countach LP400 Coupe "Periscope" is one of only 150 produced, and was the 55th Countach built. The car was delivered new to the Italian VIP Gian-Carlo Bandiera (Italy) on May 28th, 1975. As per the order Gian-Carlo Bandiera had placed, the Countach LP400 Coupe "Periscope" left the Lamborghini factory fitted with few special specifications: a free-flowing exhaust, Miura SV cam-shafts and larger carburetor injectors than standard. By that time, it was finished in red over black leather. Later, the car was repainted black. After two years spent in its original country, the Countach LP400 Coupe "Periscope" was exported to the USA where it stayed until 2007. Then, it was brought back to Europe, more precisely in Germany where it remained until we purchased it in February, 2016. During its stay in the USA, its dashboard was autographed by Marcello Gandini at the California Concours in June 2003. In 2006-2007, a mechanical restoration was performed by Bobileff and Co. The Miura SV cams originally fitted were replaced by standard factory cams, but were kept with the car. The paintwork has remained untouched. Our Lamborghini Countach LP400 Coupe "Periscope"

    • Mileage: 51100 mi
    For sale
    POA POA
  • 1989 (G) LAMBORGHINI Countach 5.2 V12 - 25th Anniversary

    £354,995 £354,995

    Prior to offering for sale, all cars are subject to the AMARI Inspection, a stringent 170 point investigation of the car cosmetically, electrically and mechanically. Our resident master technicians attend to all issues prior to offering the car for sale, using the very latest and best diagnostic equipment, state of the art tools and methods. Our highly qualified master technicians can carry out servicing on all road cars, from the standard family hatch back to the latest Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin... We are the only independent dealer with full Ferrari SDX Diagnostics and the Lamborghini LARAS Diagnostics systems. Our fully equipped workshop enables us to attend to any electrical, and mechanical issues, from intricate electrical repairs and renewals, to brake disc Skimming and air conditioning recharging. Before collection all cars go through our exhaustive detailing process (can take up to three days) using only the worlds finest Swissvax products, carried out by our professional certified Swissvax trained technicians, covering every aspect of the car inside and out. Collection and delivery throughout the UK can be offered through the most reputable manufacturer championed company who use only the very latest covered car transporters with extensive experience of transporting cars across the world. Vehicles are supplied with a three month warranty *Exclusions Apply. We offer part exchange and finance facility on most cars. AMARI Lifestyle Limited T/As AMARI SuperCars is authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (663066)

    • Mileage: 9733 mi
    • Engine size: 5.2
    For sale
    £354,995 £354,995
  • 1995 (G) LAMBORGHINI Countach 5.2 V12 - 25th Anniversary

    £374,995 £374,995

    Prior to offering for sale, all cars are subject to the AMARI Inspection, a stringent 170 point investigation of the car cosmetically, electrically and mechanically. Our resident master technicians attend to all issues prior to offering the car for sale, using the very latest and best diagnostic equipment, state of the art tools and methods. Our highly qualified master technicians can carry out servicing on all road cars, from the standard family hatch back to the latest Lamborghini, Ferrari, Aston Martin... We are the only independent dealer with full Ferrari SDX Diagnostics and the Lamborghini LARAS Diagnostics systems. Our fully equipped workshop enables us to attend to any electrical, and mechanical issues, from intricate electrical repairs and renewals, to brake disc Skimming and air conditioning recharging. Before collection all cars go through our exhaustive detailing process (can take up to three days) using only the worlds finest Swissvax products, carried out by our professional certified Swissvax trained technicians, covering every aspect of the car inside and out. Collection and delivery throughout the UK can be offered through the most reputable manufacturer championed company who use only the very latest covered car transporters with extensive experience of transporting cars across the world. Vehicles are supplied with a three month warranty *Exclusions Apply. We offer part exchange and finance facility on most cars. AMARI Lifestyle Limited T/As AMARI SuperCars is authorised & Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (663066)

    • Mileage: 7000 mi
    • Engine size: 5.2
    For sale
    £374,995 £374,995