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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.


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
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Lamborghini Countach cars for sale

7 Search results
Lamborghini Countach
199995 449995 GBP
  • To be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at RMs Monterey event, August 14-15, 2015. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmauctions.com/.

    Last update: About 11 Hours Old
    For sale
  • RM Sotheby's
    +1 519 352 4575
    see details
  • 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 an 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 suspension. The car was repainted in its correct shade of Rosso, but retains what is believed to be its original Nero interior. The engine was rebuilt almost twenty years ago. Today, the car p

    • Year: 1977

    Last update: 17 Days Old

    • Mileage: 35000 mi

    For sale
  • Cheshire Classic Cars
    01244 529500
    see details
  • This stunning 1980's icon is a one-off. Only 23 RHD LP500S Countachs were built, and this is the only one factory delivered in yellow. The car has recently been totally restored to show condition in Italy, with a full photographic record. It is currently fitted with an "ANSA" sports exhaust which sounds awesome, but comes with an original factory system as well. Only 35,000 kms from new. The LP500S was the model Lamborghini intended the Countach to be from the start. However they had to stay with the 4 litre engine for the early models, because the 5 litre version was not production-car ready until 1982. This is an extremely collectible car which ticks every box (1980's poster car looks, the ultimate supercar of its time, known history from new, stunning unique colour, perfect restoration), and is a piece of modern art which can only appreciate in value.

    • Year: 1983

    Last update: 20 Days Old

    • Mileage: 22000 mi

    For sale
  • Cheshire Classic Cars
    01244 529500
    see details
  • 1988 Lamborghini Countach QV.......... Chequered Flag International is please to offer this 1988 Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV. Produced in October 1987 as a U.S. specification model with Bosch fuel injection, finished in the classic combination of white over a red leather interior, and had optional white painted wheels and the iconic rear spoiler, just as it is seen here today. The car is in superb original condition having been immaculately preserved by its previous owners for over the last 27 years and driven for only a total of 15,500 miles. One of the very few late model US delivery Countach's with 'European' style bumpers therefore looking exactly as Bertone intended. Complete with owner's Manual in original leather wallet, and extensive maintenance records documenting an engine out service less than 100 miles ago. Inspections encouraged all sales AS-IS. Sales tax and license fees due if delivered in California Please note: All vehicles over 10 years old are mileage EXEMPT . All of our cars are for sale locally in our showroom and we reserve the right to sell any of them at any time. It is our goal to provide the highest quality vehicles to our customers. However, please keep

    • Year: 1988

    Last update: 20 Days Old
    For sale
  • Chequered Flag
    0113 271 1366
    see details
  • To be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at RMs The Andrews Collection event, May 2, 2015. To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at rmauctions.com/The Andrews Collection. Estimate:$375,000 - $475,000 449 bhp, 5,167 cc V-12 engine with six Weber carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent suspension with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, and four-wheel Girling ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.4 in.Incredibly low mileage, showing 1,240 kilometers from newThe final iteration of Lamborghinis iconic CountachThe original LP500 Countach turned the automotive world on its head when it premiered at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. Automotive styling was only just beginning to transition away from the curvaceous lines seen on cars of the 1950s and 1960s to the more angular designs that are now characteristic of the 1970s. The Countach, which was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, was low slung, aggressive, and very much different than anything else on the road. The production version wouldnt arrive until three years later, once again at the Geneva Show in 1974, but it remained largely similar to the original design. Production of the car was slow at first, but as the Countachs popularity began to grow, not only within the automotive world but also within pop culture, many more examples would leave the factorys gates over the next 15 years. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Lamborghini unveiled a special edition of the Countach, which boasted numerous updates over the existing 5000 QV. There were nearly 500 subtle changes and updates to the 25th Anniversary Countach, which is far too many to list individually, but overall, these changes were intended to increase passenger comfort and style.The bodywork was redesigned by none other than Horacio Pagani. Under his leadership, the Countachs nose was lifted slightly and the front bumper was redesigned with new air intakes in an effort to more effectively channel air to the front brakes. At the same time, the rear bumper also received subtle styling changes. The two most notable changes were to the air intakes that were located just behind the door, which received thicker strakes in body color rather than in black, and the wheels were now two-piece forged alloy rims. Inside, the Countachs relatively spartan manual-operated windows were replaced with power-operated units. The seats were also fitted with power-adjustable seatbacks, making them markedly more comfortable than those in the cars predecessor. A newer steering wheel was fitted, as well as a more powerful air-conditioning system, which once again helped to increase overall comfort. The performance of the 25th Anniversary Countach remained identical to that of the 5000 QV, which was still very impressive. The Countach could reach 100 km/h from a dead stop in 4.7 seconds, and its top speed was an equally exciting 183.3 mph. Overall, these variants are known to be the most drivable, reliable, and comfortable of the series.This 25th Anniversary Countach was produced in April 1990 and built as a North American-specification model. It was delivered new to Canada through Lamborghini dealer Eugene Carrie and was finished just as you see it today, painted in Rosso Siviglia over a Champagne leather interior. It was delivered new to its first owner in May 1990 and remained in Canada until it was purchased for the Andrews Collection in 2014. This near factory-fresh Countach shows remarkably well. Its paint remains in very good condition and exhibits a high gloss in the light. Inside, the leather interior shows very little wear throughout. The odometer displays a mere 1,240 kilometers, which is commensurate with the cars overall condition. Furthermore, it should also be noted that the Countach is offered with its proper tool kit and owners manual. The Countach 25th Anniversary represents the last iteration for Lamborghinis most iconic car, and many believe that it is the best of the series in terms of overall refinement and drivability, which is verified by its 15-year production run. The Andrewss example is in extraordinary condition, and it is, quite simply, nearly flawless.

    Last update: About 12 Hours Old
    For sale
  • RM Sotheby's
    +1 519 352 4575
    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: About 1 Month Old
    For sale
  • Simon Furlonger
    01233 646328
    see details
  • This is a very well cherished example of the final series of Countach. Supplied new by Portman Lamborghini and maintained by them and marque specialists, the car has covered just over 20,000 miles from new. In 2011 the car benefitted from a major overhaul. In the current ownership the car has been stored by ourselves and recently took part in a prestigious European tour after which the car had a further full check over by Famous Lamborghini specialists Colin Clarke Engineering to ensure that the car is presented in need of nothing and ready to be used and enjoyed.

    Last update: 6 Days Old

    • Mileage: 20000 mi

    For sale
  • DK Engineering
    01923 287 687
    see details
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