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Discussion in 'Classic Cars' started by jj4ever, Jun 30, 2007.
in the next posts, short review of the miura and the countach
Introduced at the Geneva show in 1966, the Lamborghini Miura P400S is Ferruccio Lamborghinis impressive challenge to his Italian rivals for unofficial leadership in the ultimate grand-touring two-seater field. And what a challenge it is the fastest road-going car we have ever tested an undeniable high spot in the 75th year of Autocars publication. The test car achieved a mean maximum speed of 172mph 11mph more than our previous record (the 161mph Iso Grifo).
Design & Engineering
The Miura has a steel monocoque centre-section with part-tubular extensions back and front to carry suspension and engine. The transversely mounted engine is a 60-deg four-ohc light alloy V12 of 3.9-litre capacity, with four downdraught triple-choke Weber carburettors, and develops 365bhp at 7700rpm. The 289lb ft of maximum torque is not produced until 5500rpm; the red line is at 7900rpm.
The Lamborghini-designed-and-made gearbox has five speeds. Combined coil-spring and Koni damper units and anti-roll bars are used front and rear, with 15 x 7in light alloy wheels located by double wishbones at both ends of the car. Braking is by twin-circuit Girling ventilated discs. The body is designed and made by Bertone. There is room for two persons, a small amount of luggage, and 16.9 gallons of petrol.
On the road
Starting up is shatteringly noisy. Assuming that the driver has any social conscience, he will wait till open country before investigating the higher regions of the rev range. And a remarkable range it is too, once you get used to the idea that it only starts at 3000rpm, at which point the engine note changes and the power begins to come in. At 3200rpm the exhaust becomes a spitting, rasping bark and the car races forward. It stays like that unrelentingly all the way to 8000rpm.
Cruising on autostrada at an absurdly easy 120mph with the electric windows wound up, one hears the exhaust as a steady growl; open the throttles and the growl becomes much louder, demanding shouting if anyone feels they must converse. That exhaust dominates every other noise, but cut the engine at speed and one is astonished to find virtually no wind noise, presumably due to the smooth skin, good sealing and the lack of any gutters. There is also little road noise.
The Miura steers very well indeed. There is a good feel of what the front tyres are doing, although with 3.2 turns lock-to-lock, it is not as quick as some rivals, nor particularly light.
The handling is beautifully balanced and safe, with just a degree of understeer initially, and nothing vicious in the way of rear-end breakaway.
Living with the car
For tall drivers the driving position is not good, being made, like many Italian cars, for a certain sort of biped nearer to monkey than to man. This means that people not built like that must sit with their knees bent, resting them against the sides of the cockpit and transmission tunnel, and therefore not deriving full support from the carefully shaped seat.
A small boot is provided behind the engine, the whole tail section lifting up about the rear of the chassis for access to the engine. We were surprised at how much we could stow there; at the front all the available space is taken up with the radiator, electric fans and spare wheel. The engine is a tight fit and we would not like to work on it without first removing the hinged section of the rear body.
Considering the performance, fuel economy is good. The car returned 13.4mpg overall during a hard-worked test period. Oil consumption was not excessive at 600 miles per pint.
The lingering impressions of the Miura are of the immense satisfaction derived from driving it fast and of the shattering noise when doing so. In both these respects it comes pretty close to being a racing car, but with enough refinement and comfort for everyday driving.
For what it is intended to be a millionaires plaything with looks and performance paramount the Miura is effective and exhilarating. But it should not be thought of only as some sort of toy. In Italy we made some long and fast journeys with it and enjoyed the unrestricted use of its performance above 100mph, for it is from there onward that the Miura stands apart from other fast cars.
Hear the name Countach and you instantly visualise the most striking supercar of the past 25 years. While bewildering permutations of Ferraris come and go, you know what you're getting with the Countach, whether in its purest early form as styled by Marcello Gandini, or the updated iterations buried under scoops and wings: a pure performance wedge, powered by a longitudinal V12 of 4 or 5 litres. It was to have been known by the model number only, but the story goes that, when Gandini's boss Nuccio Bertone saw the first car wheeled out of the workshops, he exclaimed 'Countach', a local Piedmontese expression of amazement for which there is no literal translation, and a legend was born.
The design is quite straightforward, and the engines, as one specialist puts it, are 'bulletproof', but there's a lot of it and things do break. It is possible to care for a Countach for less than £500 per year, but the cars' very mystique can generate big bills. In this guide, Paul Hardiman strips away some of that mystique.
1974 after prototypes are shown at Turin (1971), Geneva (1972) and Paris Motor Shows (1973) production begins with the LP400, using 3929cc four-cam V 12 giving 375bhp @ 8000rpm, and riding on tall (70-profile Michelin XWX tyres. Weighs I IOOkg. 150 made.
1978 LP400S appears, on revolutionary new Pirelli P7 low-profile (35-section at rear) tyres and chunky flared wheelarch extensions to cover them, with revised suspension. Seat raised slightly, and roof tunnel, a legacy of periscope on prototype, disappears. From 1979, smaller
40 DCOE carburettors were fitted in search of better drivability,so power down slightly,to 353bhp. All English cars 350bhp.466 made.
1982 LP5OOS appears, with engine capacity increased to 4754cc and larger Weber
45 DCOE carburettors - bringing power back to original 375bhp after losses due to search for improved economy. Badges say 5000.
March 1985 Giulio Alfieri engineers improved version of V12, with four-valve heads, and capacity stretched to 5167cc to give 455bhp @ 7000rpm, badged qv for quattrovalvole. Taller engine cover to clear taller carbs, wider front tyres and minor suspension geometry changes. 4S9 of all LPSOO series made. US-spec cars have Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection.
1988 25th anniversary model - commemorating quarter-century of company, not car. Straked scoops and side skirts, intended to return shape to original, smoother image. Final weight approx 1500kg. 1990 final cars leave Sant' Agata after production ends on May 7. Total build 1997.
Body Style & Interior
The Countach's structure - including those startling reach for-the-sky flip-up doors - is of hand-formed aluminium skins riveted over a steel tube superstructure on top of a complex latticework chassis. Headlight pods are steel, and so are the roofs on later cars. Because of hand-building, no two cars are exactly alike - and, crucially, the bodies are very susceptible to corrosion. Interior panelling, like most of the closing panels in the wheelarches and engine bay, is glassfibre secured by copper rivets. The original `narrow' cars have the cleanest shape. These, as well as all pre-5-litre cars, look sleeker because they have the `slimline' body - a shallower shape whose doors are 16in deep. All these are left-hand drive. From around the debut of the bigger engine, the body is deeper - the doors measure 17in - and the windscreen has a steeper rake.
Glassfibre is also used for the accoutrements that began to clutter the body: first the wheelarch extensions that covered the wide new 345/35 P7s and hid the beautifully slashed rear arch profile, then the add-on wing that blunted top speed, and finally the slatted sill skirts and straked radiator scoops of the Anniversary model that were supposed to soften the original shape's sharp-edged lines.
When buying one, don't worry too much about corrosion because you can see most of the chassis, but avoid cars that have been heavily shunted. Spot these by trim that doesn't quite fit, or rippled aluminium panels that have been smoothed with filler.
All Countachs have a few quirks: the door buttons are on the underside of the NACA ducts where they are not easily spotted. And the fuel fillers? You'll find them even deeper in the ducts, on both sides on two-valve per cylinder cars, and functional only on the right on four-valvers. The difference is in the diameter of the crossover pipe between the two tanks, but some early cars have had a larger section pipe fitted.
Inside, with shallow windows and black leather, is a dark place to be, with early cars being basic. Exposed screw heads are normal. Vision to the rear and sides is virtually zero, and the way to reverse one really is to sit up on the sill and look back over the roof. Those windows don't open far and, with the heat generated by the engine and transmission intruding into the cockpit, working air-conditioning is a must all parts are readily available though. The only tricky bit to get to is the heat exchanger matrix on early cars.
Technical & Mechanical
The V12 engine, originally used in the same 3.9-litre form as the Miura and Espada, is mounted longitudinally in the Countach, in a clever and unique configuration to achieve the best weight distribution. The engine is reversed and mounted wholly in front of the rear axle line, with the gearbox ahead of it. The gearlever is mounted as an extension on the end- all of which dictates the 'cab-forward' driving position. Drive then travels backwards, via a set of drop gears, to the differential via a short shaft through the engine sump. This makes the power plant fairly tall, but is the most compact arrangement possible with this hardware. The engine is described as `bulletproof' by experts, although incorrect maintenance can quickly shorten its life. The suspension is by classic double wishbones at the front, and lower wishbones with upper and trailing links with double coil-over dampers at the rear. Brakes are discs all round, mounted outboard. Wheels are of basically three types: the early ribbed Campagnolos fitted to the LP400, 7 1/2x15 front, 9x15 rear, the `telephone dial' style fitted on the early flared-arch cars, and the second-generation split-rim holed alloys of the Anniversary cars, 8 1/2x15 front, 12x15 rear.
Engine very strong, but early cars tended to wear their camshafts. Most have been sorted by now, but the occasional rogue car turns up when the owner has tried continental shim adjustment to mask cam wear. Cam replacement is a two-day job. Valve clearances need to be checked every 25,000km or so, and rarely need adjustment, but this takes nearly as long as a cam change because carburettors have to come off.
Oil filters on early cars use a long paper element filter that lives in a cast alloy housing towards the back left of the engine bay: it is crucial that the collar locating the bottom of the element goes back on. Otherwise, dirty oil bypasses the filter element and eventually scores the crank journals. a factory item is £6500, an English-made one which is just as good is £3500. Either way, the engine rebuild bill can easily top £10,000. Cars like semi-synthetic oil, which doesn't sound too bad at £22 for four litres - until you realise that the engine, a wet sump design, takes 16 litres.
Clutch slave cylinder should be treated as a service item. If the engine has to come out for any reason, change it - at £80 plus fitting it's cheap insurance. Also, change the brake and clutch fluid every two years.
Ignition systems are prone to inexplicable misfiring - in the rain or after a jet wash. Normally, cars will run again after a day or so. But coils for early capacitive-discharge cars are impossible to find.
Clutches can last up to 60,000km, but have been known to wear out in as little as 20k. Replacement is an engine-out job, £700 for labour plus parts. Have oil seals changed at the same time. The Council's unique layout means there are more of them to leak, and it makes sense to change them whey they can be accessed. Nitrol seals last longer.
On the Road Test
Engine allow plenty of time for fuel pressure to build, especially if the car has been standing. Plenty of pumps on the throttle to start, and don't worry too much about flooding - lots of light pumps is the technique. Two-valve cars can take a lot of cranking when hot.
Oil pressure/water temp just over zero at tickover, rising to 6 bar of oil pressure, coolant normal at 90 deg, fans should cut in after this.
Transmission noisy on all cars, especially 400s, but should not be excessively so. Second is baulky until warm.
If the steering is heavier in one direction that the other, suspect wrong castor adjustment. Bent suspension will be obvious from underneath.
Brakes will feel a bit wooden in town, but this is normal. But if the brakes are very poor, suspect seized calipers.
Doors may not be self-supporting if struts are weak. Mind your head!
For all its mystic, the Countach is not a particularly sophisticated car - but it is a complex one, and this puts most maintenance beyond the scope of DIY. So, the first rule is to find a specialist you can trust, and take him with you when you view cars. Far from being a liability waiting to happen, a Countach can be a reliable proposition, and accepting the sometimes rough build quality can make it a more friendly ownership prospect. Specialists work hard and imaginatively to maintain parts supply, to keep this hard-punching supercar on the road for many years to come. And, with the Countach a decade out of production, you can drive the same wheels as rod Stewart loved without having to claim irony: this period piece would make a great alternative to that 248 you were lusting after.
Simon Fowler's immaculate 1988 qv has been in the family since new. His father Robin, now a leading light in Lamborghini Club UK, bought the car by chance: "We were Ferrari nuts before. It was sitting in a showroom among a load of Mercs, and it stood out so much we had to have it. In fact, it was the first car we bought without a test drive."
Now Robin is on his fifth Diablo and Simon has taken over the Countach, with about 35,000 miles recorded. "We thought we would sell it on when we bought the Diablo," says Simon, "but we couldn't bring ourselves to get rid of it. It's been to Italy a few times, and Germany and Belgium, and it's never missed a beat.
"We've got a few other cars but we never want to drive them - the Countach is quite a challenge, but you never get bored with it. We've done some track days with it, and we find Ferarris are a bit softer. I love the harshness and anarchy of it - I could go on forever about this car.
"And people seem to love it. Pull up outside a pub and it attracts a crowd - it's a real talking point. Suddenly you've got a whole lot of new mates. There's some mystery to it - I don't know what they were on when they designed it, but it's got a real aura to it, like a movie star."
Mike Pullen of Carrera Sport - a Lamborghini and Porsche specialist - has a passion for the earlier cars of both types, owning a '79 LP400S, as well as a 911 Carrera RS 2.7.
"People don't believe how well my car goes," he says. "But the earliest ones were some of the quickest because they were so much lighter. And people can't work out why my car's so sleek - it's because it's got the lower, slimline body. One guy with a later car even painted the sills silver to make his look as low."
Pullen's Countach never goes out on salty roads, but it isn't a pampered pet - he's done the Express London-Venice run twice, and won it once.
I have the april issue, but no scanner at the moment, i'll try to post them as soon as I can
is there anything special in that issue ??
The Miura is hailed as the all time dream car, plus they analize the "techno" king cars and future icons
I heart this thread.
I don't want to be stubborn, but don't forget my petition about pics of the Countach by Pagani.
BTW this year Mr Balboni completed 40 years at Lamborghini
it is good that u reminded me, give me couple of days and i will.
I'm looking for pictures of a 1968 RHD Miura with chassisnumber 3513, production number 185 and engine number 1965. Apparently it was the second RHD Miura to be built and now resides in the UK where it got upgraded to S-specs.
Give me some tome, I'll see what I can come up with
<A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/grin.gif"></A>
On a related note I found out the where abouts of a Miura that was imported new to my country and had a factory conversion to SV spec ... It began life as white, now its red/gold.
A hint its VERY close
The Sultan's car. <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/smile.gif"></A>
Did it got painted gold by some of my fellow countryman? <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/smile.gif"></A>
Yes, how could it be someone else <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/smile.gif"></A><A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/tongue.gif"></A>
That very same car, BTW what is all of that about the dutch and the Gold ?
I dunno, it was a guess..
I couldn't get a hold of my source yet, but don't worry your request is not forgotten
Thanks <A BORDER="0" HREF="http://www.supercars.net/PitLane?displayFAQ=y"><IMG BORDER="0" SRC="pitlane/emoticons/smile.gif"></A>
He looks like the Lamborghini Test driver, I think I saw him on Top Gear or something.. not at all sure though..
you've got PM