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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.
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Lamborghini Countach cars for sale

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Lamborghini Countach
34995 299995 GBP
  • Stunning Ultra Rare Lamborghini Countach Spider finished in Gleaming metallic blue coachwork with luxury deep blue Interior,full digital dash layout. quad exhaust system, fully badged up! One of only two ever built...... 5.0 Ltr 302 V8 ..... looks and sounds fantastic A really unique opportunity to own this fabulous Lambo Countach Spider The ultimate Head turner £34,995

    • Year: 1992

    • Last update: 1 day old

    For sale
  • Total Headturners
    01992 573564
    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: 21 days old

    For sale
  • Chequered Flag
    0113 271 1366
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  • 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: 21 days old

    • Mileage: 523 mi

    For sale
  • DD Classics
    0208 8783355
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  • 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
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  • 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: 3 months old

    • Mileage: 20000 mi

    For sale
  • DK Engineering
    01923 287 687
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  • 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: 4 months old

    • Mileage: 34000 mi

    For sale
  • Cheshire Classic Cars
    01244 529500
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