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

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 cars for sale

13 Search results
Lamborghini Countach
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  • 1990 Lamborghini Countach Anniversary

    POA POA

    In 1974, Lamborghini replaced the groundbreaking Miura with the equally impressive Countach. Like the Miura, the Countach blended a quad-cam, V12 engine with futuristic Marcello Gandini styling, this time incorporating its own unique 'Gull-wing' doors that opened vertically. The Countach became an instant legend overnight. Claims of it being the fastest production car in the world with a totally impractical interior, the windows could only open a few inches and minimal rearward visibility just added to the mystique and poster appeal of the new Countach. Named to honour the company's twenty-fifth anniversary in 1988, the 25th Anniversary Countach, although mechanically very similar to the 5000QV, sported considerable restyling and possibly the fastest edition of the model with 0-60mph in 4.7 seconds and 183mph all out. The Anniversary edition was produced up until 1990 before being superseded by the Lamborghini Diablo. This fine lefthand drive example is finished in red with a contrasting tan interior and was originally built for the Spanish market. The mileage is currently showing 7,081km, or 4,400 miles, and has just recently been serviced by Lamborghini London in October of this

    • Year: 2016
    For sale
    Historics at Brooklands
  • Lamborghini Countach

    POA POA

    Meet your chance to experience the true "Wolf of Wall Street" feeling with this fascinating 25th Anniversary Lamborghini Countach. The youngest version of the iconic Countach, which remained in produciton for a total of sixteen years, this special edition car commemorates the jubilee of the founding of its manufacturer. Manufactured in 1990, this particular specimen is an original unrestored 25th anniversary model. It is completely unmolested and presents a great investment opportunity as it comes in a very desirable original colour combination and is virtually undriven at a mileage of only 2000 miles (exactly 3465 km). This car has had only one previous owner, a renowned Lamborghini dealer in Sweden. It was not driven for the most part of its life and was only registered in 1991 as new EU emissions regulations would not have made first registration possible at a later point. The car is currently in the hands of a collector in Berlin, Germany. As part of our comprehensive service, we offer fully insured shipping to any UK address as well as assistance with all UK registration formalities. For more information on our services, please also visit our website. Please note that this car is advertised on behalf of a client, who reserves the right to withdraw the offer at any time. Due to the high calibre of this item, the client has further asked us not to advertise the asking price online. If you would like further information of the car or ask for a quote, please do not hesitate to contact us!

    • Year: 1991
    • Mileage: 2000 mi
    • Engine size: 5.2
    For sale
  • Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV by Mirage

    £54,995 £54,995

    About this Lamborghini Countach 5000 QV by Mirage During the 1980's Countach replica kits were offered by a big variety of companies; but none of that initial group of would-be supercar counterfeiters found it easy to fully develop and finish a demonstrator. New names like Brightwheel, Silhouette, Sienna and ABS entered the fray, but in real terms only Paul Lawrenson's Prova Designs and Phil Cheetham's Mirage operation thrived. With the competition soon foundering, Prova and Mirage had the market almost entirely to themselves by the early 1990's, as most of the replicators had found the cost, skill, effort and time required in recreating the Countach far too draining. Commissioned specifically for the first owner and built to exacting standards by an aircraft engineer, this Mirage Lamborghini Countach recreation was five years in the making and finally registered as new in 2014. This stunning vehicle looks resplendent in Rossa Corsa paint and has covered just less than two thousand miles on a fully rebuilt BMW 5.0 litre, 12 cylinder engine mated to an Audi gearbox. Recently mapped and dynamometer tested, it is producing 340bhp at the rear wheels. It is built on a reinforced tubular

    • Mileage: 2000 mi
    For sale
  • 1989 (G) LAMBORGHINI Countach 5.2 V12 - 25th Anniversary

    £334,995 £334,995

    Presented in superb condition, a rare opportunity to own an iconic car and one of the very few RHD cars left in the UK. Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Exterior: Rosso Interior: Crema 15548 km from new (9668 miles) RHD UK supplied car originally supplied by then official importers Portman Lamborghini. SERVICE HISTORY Lamborghini Main dealer Service History and huge provenance file. This car has been part of an extensive private collection since 2003 and maintained at no expense spared as documented within its extensive file. 21/02/90 - Milage Unknown - Lamborghini Main Dealer - Portman - United Kingdom 24/03/97 - Milage Unknown - Lamborghini Main Dealer - Reading - United Kingdom 15/10/04 - 10,715 Km - Lamborghini Main Dealer - London - United Kingdom 28/07/10 - 14,777 Km - Lamborghini Main Dealer - London - United Kingdom 28/02/12 - 15,267 Km - Lamborghini Main Dealer - London - United Kingdom 21/05/15 - 15,454 Km - Lamborghini Main Dealer - London - United Kingdom MOT due 13/07/17. The car sits on Pirelli P-Zero Tyres all around. Front: 225 x 50 x ZR15 (92W) Rear: 345 x 35 x ZR15 (95Y) TYRE DEPTHS Front Right: 7mm Front Left: 7mm Rear Right: 5mm Rear Left: 5mm The vehicle comes complete with the original toolkit and books including the original sales brochure from 1989. To make an appointment to view, please call our customer services team on 01772 663777. Viewing strictly by appointment. 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: 9668 mi
    • Engine size: 5.2
    For sale
  • 1989 Lamborghini Countach

    $315,000(£257,449.50) $315,000(£257,449.50)

    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
    For sale
  • 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
  • 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â 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. Â Our Lamborghini Countach LP400 Coupe "Per

    • Mileage: 51100 mi
    For sale
  • Lamborghini Countach

    £269,995 £269,995

    The 25th Anniversary Countach was introduced in 1988 to celebrate Lamborghini's 25th anniversary; although the body kit is a bit 'Marmite' (you either love it or hate it), it is by far the most refined and driveable of its series. The car featured many minor updates from lessons learned with previous iterations of the Countach, and there were nearly 500 small differences between the 25th Anniversary edition and the Countach 500 QV. This 1988 Lamborghini is one of only 657 units produced between September 1988 and January 1990. It has had only 1 owner from new. The car is in un-restored, original, show condition and has a record of regular servicing. Almost all of the pristine paintwork is factory original, as is everything in the interior. This engine is of course the original matching-numbers unit. The car has only covered 17,702 miles in the hands of its 1 fastidious owner. It comes with air conditioning, a spare set of keys, an original factory tool kit, a tailored car cover and the official Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary Service Manual. Having just has a full revision of all mechanicals, it drives exactly as Lamborghini intended and is ready to enjoy.

    For sale
  • Lamborghini Countach

    POA POA

    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 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. The original rear suspension is still with the car, should refitting it be desired in the future for 100% originality. Today, the car presents and drives magnificently, and it must be one of the finest surviving examples of an early Countach. Piloting this missile on the right road is just as breathtaking and visceral as it ever was, and it's still very much in a full state of readiness. It was recently driven at high speeds round Goodwood for a prime-time TV programme. Complete with its tool roll and an extensive history file, including owner's manual, original warranty card, and delivery documents.

    For sale
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