The Legend Reimagined |
First introduced in 1971, the original Lamborghini Countach is the matriarch of modern super sports cars and an icon of Lamborghini design. Now, to celebrate 50 years since that first Gandini penned model, the new Countach LPI 800-4 limited edition has been unveiled.
Instantly recognizable as a descendant of Countach generations, the new LPI 800-4 is testament to the lasting impact of the revolutionary design of the original that became the poster car of the 1980s and a symbol of automotive and lifestyle ultra-cool.
Yet, while it pays homage to the Lamborghini legacy, the Italian automaker maintains the Countach LPI 800-4 is not just retrospective: It also imagines how the iconic Countach of the 70s and 80s might have evolved into an elite super sports model of this decade – a legend reimagined.
While Lamborghini’s modern rendering of the icon has met with online derision from some Countach afficionados, we are quite enamoured by the lines of the LPI 800-4, created by Centro Stile under the guidance of Mitja Borkert. To understand the thinking behind the modern interpretation, one needs to appreciate the history and development of the original Countach.
Reimagining the Matriarch
With the distinctive silhouette, characteristic lines, idiosyncratic wedge shape and sharp angles of the original’s five models over nearly 20 years as reference, the pure and uncluttered final rendering pays homage to the first LP 400 and LP 500 production versions.
Inspiration for its distinctive Countach face with long, low rectangular grille and headlights, and the wheel arches with their hexagonal theme was taken from the Quattrovalvole edition. The sharp inclination of the greenhouse adopts the straight lines redolent of the original Countach, and the integrated side air scoops are embellished with distinctive slatted gills.
Modern renditions of the iconic NACA air intakes cut into the side and doors of the LPI 800-4 while distinctive Periscopio lines (as used in the original Countach to try and improve rear vision) run through the roof to the rear of the car. At the rear, the distinctive inverted wedge shape of the LPI 800-4 is immediately recognizable, as well as the hexagonal design of the rear light clusters.
Other obvious design cues are the four exhaust tail pipes that was always part of the Countach family, now contained within the carbon fibre rear diffuser, and the infamous scissor doors, first introduced on the Countach and now a Lamborghini V12 signature element.
However, unlike the later models of the original Countach, the LPI 800-4 – to the chagrin of some – has no big fixed wing at the rear or ungainly side body panels cluttering its puristic lines. In our view this is for the better as it takes after the original LP 400 that had no fixed wing at the rear and none of the kitsch side body panels, and especially since that first LP 400 shaped Lamborghini’s design DNA like no other Lamborghini model ever. The new Countach answers the call to translate this unconventional and edgy, yet clean design character into the future.
A legacy to the future
The Bizzarrini designed V12 engine in the original Countach is as legendary as the design. Mounted longitudinally at the rear with a forward-cabin layout, the Countach featured side-mounted radiators from Formula One, a forward-facing gearbox and tubular spaceframe technology.
With a 5.2-litre version of the V12, delivering up to 335 kW and 500 Nm of torque, the 25th Anniversary Edition was the most refined and possibly the fastest variant of the original Countach family, accelerating from 0–100 km/h in under 5 seconds and achieving a top speed of 295 km/h.
The original Countach was as revolutionary in its engineering approach as in its astonishing looks, and this incidentally led to its name as Countach (pronounced ‘Coon-tahch’) – a fitting expression of surprise and wonder in the Piedmontese dialect. The iconic model is also one of very few Lamborghini cars with a name not connected to bulls, and interestingly, it has a South African connection…
During the mid-1970s a small number of new Countachs were assembled in Cape Town by Intermotormakers (IMM). The Countachs and other Lamborghini models were imported from Italy as complete knock-down kits and assembled here until 1980. The total number of IMM assembled Countachs is unknown, but it is a small fraction of overall Countach production.
Detractors of the new Countach also point out that the platform is not exactly new, as the LPI 800-4 is based on the ten-year-old Aventador platform. Even so, it is a dedicated V12 platform, with its normally aspirated 6.5-litre V12 engine mounted Longitudinale Posteriore (LP) and combined with hybrid (I) supercapacitor technology developed for the Sián.
The maximum combined power delivery from the engine (574 kW at 8,500 r/min, 720 Nm of torque at 6,750 r/min) and 48V electric motor (25 kW/34 Nm) is 599 kW (814 cv, rounded at 800 in the name). Power is sent to a permanent four-wheel drive Haldex transmission, enabling acceleration from 0-100 km/h in only 2.8 seconds, 0-200 km/h in 8.6 seconds and a top speed of 355 km/h.
The carbon fibre monocoque chassis and body panels provide exceptional torsional stiffness and a dry weight of 1,595 kg. Moveable air vents produced by 3D printing technology and a photochromatic roof – changing from solid to transparent at the push of a button – reminds one that this car, like its forebear, aspires to become a future automotive screensaver.
The interior also has design cues from the original Countach; the luxurious leather featuring geometric stitching with a square motif on the seats and dashboard, and the unique wheels (20-inch in front, 21-inch at the rear, fitted with carbon ceramic brake discs and Pirelli tyres) recalls the 1980s “telephone” style wheels.
Inside the cockpit, an 8,4-inch HDMI centre touchscreen unique to the LPI 800-4 manages car controls and connectivity. It also includes a ‘Stile’ (Design) button: when pressed, it explains the Countach design philosophy to admirers and onlookers. A range of heritage colour options, including the iconic Impact White, Giallo Countach and Verde Medio, is available for the LPI 800-4.
With only 112 units to be produced (the number denotes the ‘LP 112’ internal project name used during the development of the original Countach) the new Countach LPI 800-4 will be super exclusive. Deliveries will start from the first quarter of next year but available only in left-hand drive, it is highly unlikely one of these automotive pieces reimagining history for the future will make it to South Africa.
Report by Ferdi de Vos | Images © Automobili Lamborghini