The Lamborghini About this sound Countach (help•info) is a rear mid-engined, V12 sports car produced by Italian car manufacturer Lamborghini from 1974 to 1990. It is one of the then-exotic designs conceptualized by Italian Design house Bertone, which pioneered and popularized the sharply angled «Italian Wedge» design language.
This design language was originally embodied and introduced to the public in 1970 as the Lancia Stratos Zero concept car, while the first showing of the Countach was in 1971 as the Lamborghini LP500 Concept Car. The DNA of the original Countach can be found within the design language of sports cars throughout the 1970s and into the ’80s. The Countach also popularized the «cab forward» design concept, which pushes the passenger compartment forward to accommodate a larger rear-mounted engine.
In 2004, American car magazine Sports Car International named the car number three on the list of Top Sports Cars of the 1970s, and listed it number ten on their list of Top Sports Cars of the 1980s.
he doors, most often credited as a Lamborghini trademark, were a remarkable design feature for the Countach. They first appeared on the Alfa Romeo 33 ‘Carabo’ concept car in 1968, which was also designed by Gandini. The doors have come to be known as scissor doors: hinged at the front with horizontal hinges, so that 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 impossible to use in even slightly confined space. Care needed to be taken, though, in opening the doors with a low roof overhead. The car’s poor rear visibility and wide sills led to drivers adopting a method of reversing the car for parking by opening the door, sitting on the sill, and reversing while looking over the back of the car from outside.
The pure style of the prototype was progressively altered by the evolution of the car to improve its performance, handling, tractability, and ability to meet mandated requirements. This began with the first production model, which included several vents that Lamborghini found necessary to cool the engine adequately. These included the NACA ducts on each side which went across the doors and rear fenders. The car design changes ended with a large engine vent directly behind the driver, reducing the rear view. Later additions—including fender flares, spoilers, carburetor covers, and bumpers—progressively changed the car’s aesthetic values.
The Countach’s styling and visual impression made it an icon of great design to almost everyone except automotive engineers. The superior performance characteristics of later Lamborghini models (such as the Diablo, or the Murciélago) appealed to performance car drivers and engineers, but they never had the originality or outrageousness that gave the Countach its distinction. The different impressions left by the various Lamborghini models have generated numerous debates and disagreements over what constitutes «classic» or «great» automotive design (elegant looks and style, versus technical and engineering superiority). Despite the impracticality and required updating over time, the basic shape of the first Countach prototype revealed in 1971 remained virtually unchanged over its 19-year lifespan.
Lamborghini V12 engine
The rear wheels were driven by a traditional Lamborghini V12 engine mounted longitudinally with a mid-engined configuration. This contrasted with the Miura with its centrally mounted, transversely-installed engine. For better weight distribution, the engine is pointed «backwards»; the output shaft is at the front, and the gearbox is in front of the engine, the driveshaft running back through the engine’s sump to a differential at the rear. Although originally planned as a 5 L (310 cu in) powerplant, the first production cars used the Lamborghini Miura’s 4-liter engine. Later advances increased the displacement to 4754 cc and then (in the «Quattrovalvole» model) 5167 cc with four valves per cylinder.
All Countaches were equipped with six Weber carburetors until the arrival of the 5000QV model, which used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. The models in European markets however, continued to use the carburetors until the arrival of the successor model Lamborghini Diablo, which replaced the Countach.