Some of the more avid Lamborghini enthusiasts were rather disappointed when the company from Sant’Agata unveiled the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 in Pebble Beach during the 2021 edition of Monterey Car Week in the United States of America, while the idea of celebrating the 50th anniversary of probably the most iconic Lamborghini ever appealed to many, the resulting homage model didn’t get a warm welcome by all, especially not the older generation of both owners and fans that hold the classic Countach from the Seventies and Eighties in their heart.
Lamborghini released a contemporary interpretation of the classic Countach but was forced to use the underpinnings from the current Aventador, and while both are constructed in Sant’Agata and come with a massive V12 engine and feature the well-known upward opening, scissor doors … that is where the similarities end. There are some styling queues to be recognized in the 2021 edition, but not enough according to many, while the 112 units in the limited production run of the new Countach LPI 800-4 sold out even before the official public unveiling, each at an MSRP of US$2,600,000 before options and taxes, a lot of people would have loved to see a more traditionally styled homage to her majesty the Lamborghini Countach.
In comes a big-time Lamborghini collector, who got talking to Lamborghini back in 2017 and had one request for their in-house restoration department, the celebrated Polo Storico: build me a 1971 Countach LP500 prototype. I’m sure he had a blanc cheque in his hand to convince Lamborghini to actually build a replica of the actual prototype shown at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show from scratch, because the real car had a very hard life during the development of the Countach between 1971 and 1974, only to have it end up against the barrier for crash-testing at MIRA in the UK, the real prototype was lost, it doesn’t exist anymore.
Now you have to understand Automobili Lamborghini SpA didn’t always have ‘keeping records’ high on their ‘to do’ list, so that made this challenge rather difficult for Polo Storico: there is no car to use as a base, no original to take measurements from, and the actual Lamborghini Countach LP400 that still exist aren’t even built on the same chassis as the 1971 prototype, the latter had a steel plate chassis while the production car was built around a stunning, round tubed spaceframe.
Giuliano Cassataro, Head of Service and Polo Storico even stated: “The collection of documents was crucial, there had been so much attention paid to all the details of the car, to their overall consistency and to the technical specifications.” … Lamborghini had to dig through whatever records they managed to find, some of the original drawings were unearthed, but photos and magazine articles from the actual prototype published back in the Seventies had to be sourced from outside of the factory, they even had to enlist the help of Centro Stile to make this dream come true for that one fortunate client.
As the overall dimensions of the prototype were more or less similar to the Countach LP400, Mitja Borkert had the green production prototype from the factory museum taken into a massive 3D scanner for digitalization, it would take the Centro Stile another 2,000 hours of combining the scanned data with photos, articles, actual homologation sheets, and even relying on the memory of people that worked on the prototype back in the Seventies to have a perfect digital model of the real car … time to pass it on to Polo Storico now for the actual build.
To recreate the Lamborghini Countach LP500 as accurately as possible, the artisans at Polo Storico reverted to the metal hammering method used fifty years ago, going so far as to employ real “battilastra” with their inherited creativity and old-school tools from the Seventies, it would take over 25,000 hours to get to the result that was unveiled at the 2021 edition of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este, and she is a beauty for sure.
The attention to detail also went into the engine, remember the prototype had an experimental 5-Liter V12 that didn’t make it into production, the Countach LP400 came with a 4-Liter V12, but for this recreation rumor has it they made a bespoke 4.8-Liter unit just to make it period-correct, right down to the gold-finished covers, which were black on the LP400 production version.
But that’s not the only return to the Seventies, the 1971 Lamborghini Countach LP500 was fitted with Pirelli Cinturato CN12 tires, these no longer exist today, but the archives of Fondazione Pirelli still had the original plans for this old tire, complete with images and preserved materials, so it was possible for the Milanese company to make four Cinturato CN12 in the Pirelli Collezione series to be fitted to the recreation, 245/60R14 for the front and 265/60R14 for the rear, fitted with the identical tread pattern and aesthetics from 1971, but using a modern compound and structure for safety.
And then we come to one of the things I personally felt strongly about when Lamborghini unveiled the Countach LPI 800-4 … the color, the new, limited edition homage was unveiled in Bianco Siderale, pearl metallic white, while the car it celebrates was finished in yellow … fortunately this bespoke commission for the Countach LP500 was done in the exact same shade the original car had in 1971, recreated specifically for this build by PPG, the LP500 was painted in ‘Giallo Fly Speciale’, and combined with the black leather interior this looks just right … exactly how she should look.
Please enjoy this official video from Lamborghini on the most important car in their history, the Lamborghini Countach, a true icon in automotive history: