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HALF A CENTURY OF COUNTACH

Driven featured the Lamborghini Huracán on its first-ever cover a decade ago, so it is probably fitting to pay homage to one of its most iconic forebears, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year – the legendary Countach. Produced from 1974 to 1990 as a successor to the Miura, the rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive sports car with its spectacular and futuristic looking sharply angled wedge shape was styled by the design maestro Marcello Gandini from Bertone, who recently passed away.

The Countach, developed under the project name “LP112”, was first introduced to the public at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show as the LP500 concept to rave reviews. Three years later it became the first production car to incorporate so-called scissor doors, and the poster car on many a youngster’s bedroom wall.

With a longitudinally mounted 4.0-litre V12 engine developing 276 kW in the original LP400, and capable of a 300 km/h top speed, the Countach redefined the sports car segment. It evolved over a period of 16 years, growing wide fenders on the LP400 S and LP500 S, and a spoiler on the 5000 QV and 25th Anniversary edition – the enlarged 5.0-litre engine by now delivering 335 kW.

The last Countach was built in July 1990, and according to official figures, a total of 1,983 were birthed during its lifetime. Interestingly, there is a South African twist to the Countach story, as a small number of new Countachs were assembled locally, in Cape Town, during the mid-1970s. 

The company Intermotormakers (IMM) imported Countachs and other models from the Lamborghini factory as complete knock-down kits and assembled them here. This arrangement came to an end in 1980 due to local content legislation. Even so, the final tally of Countachs assembled by Intermotormakers is unknown, although they constitute a small percentage of total production.

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