The 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio can be thought of as the supercar which ushered in a new world of automotive design. Fast, rare and exclusive, only 150 or so of these cars were reported to be made. Everything from its cutting-edge technology, engine power and extreme styling stunned the automotive crowd. Built in Italy and sold for a hefty $52,000.00, it wasn't the first supercar to host the famous wedge-shaped body. However, it did help to bring its futuristic design to the public. For many supercar enthusiasts, it is the 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopo which defines the original, true supercar.
What is a Supercar?
Before we delve into the world of the 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio, Let's take a brief look at just what makes a car like the LP400 a supercar in the first place. A supercar can be defined as the cream of the crop in the automotive world. They are all about speed and luxury, and not much else. In other words, you won't be hauling a trailer with one, or using it for a trip to Home Depot to purchase lumber. Examples of supercars include the Maserati Bora, Ferrari 512, and Jaguar XKSS. A supercar exchanges usefulness for prestige. According to Boss Hunting, "supercars are harder to handle, usually have an output above 500 horsepower, and their price point places them in a slimmer percentile of affordability compared to [sports cars]." They're not even the fastest of cars on the market as time and time again, American born muscle cars have been shown to best them in straight run races. However, in the end it's the celebrity of owning the supercar that carries the most weight.
1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio History
In 1971 the Geneva Motor Show gave us a glimpse of the first Countach. Onlookers and hardcore supercar enthusiasts were stunned with its aggressive styling and unique specs. This was quite the supercar for the 1970's. After the show, the prototype was taken back to the drawing board in an attempt to create a line of production cars designed to sell to the public. For the next 3 years, the prototype went through hundreds of redos, overhauls and test drives until it was ready to make its official appearance at the 1974 Geneva Motor Show as a production car. All the rest was history. . The original geometric design of the Countach quickly found itself on posters, in auto magazines, private collections and showrooms. The 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio was the embodiment of all things supercar: Idealistic, out of reach for most and extravagant. Though the Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio wasn't Lamborghini's first supercar, it was the car which ignited the imagination of future automotive designers and collectors, becoming the father of all forthcoming supercars.
Throughout its lifetime the original wedge-shaped, geometric design was refreshed by adding extras to successive models. As such, it was the 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio which retains the cleanest, purest design of all the Countach's. To get a good idea of the design of the original Lamborghini Countach LP400, we'll take a look at the LP400 once owned by Prince Mansour Bin Mashal of Saudi Arabia. The car even has the exact yellow coloring as the original 1971 prototype. Singer Rod Stewart's Periscopio sold at auction for around $942,000, and may have brought in more if the roof hadn't been removed. In fact, at the time of this writing there is a 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio on active auction with the bids closing in at a cool mlllion.
Marcello Gandini A Genius with a Slide Rule
The designer responsible for altering the face of supercar design was Marcello Gandini. This multi-talented car designer was born in Turin, Italy in 1938. The son of an orchestral leader, Gandini grew to become one of the world's foremost car designers. Examples of this prolific and successful designer include the Alfa Romeo Montreal, Bugatti EB 110 prototype, Jaguar Ascot, Lamborghini Diablo, Lamborghini Miura, Maserati Khamsin, and many more. When it came to the Countach, Gandini wanted to make sure that when people saw the car for the first time, their only reaction would be one of astonishment. Indeed, that's what the word "Countach" actually means. In the Piedmontese language, Countach means "wow"! As for the rest of the name, lets break that down right here. First, LP400 stands for Longitudinale Posteriore, which refers to the position of the engine in the car. The word Periscopio refers to the system designed to allow the driver to see what was going on behind him.
The Countach is a wide-bodied car at 74.4 inches. Having such a wide body gave the car a few distinct advantages such as an improved grip due to the addition of larger tires and decreased probability of experiencing a body roll. In other words, the car becomes faster, more stable around turns and has better traction. However, there did exist one problem for the driver: Exiting the Countach in a standard sized parking area. Gandini had already solved this issue with his design of the Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo prototype. He found that the addition of "scissor doors" solved it quite nicely. Here, both passenger and driver doors would swing upward instead of outward. Gandini's scissor door design would now allow car makers to create extreme, wide-bodied supercars. As far as specs go, the original 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio was powered by a 3929 cc backward installed, 4 liter, 375HP V12 engine. The backward engine was positioned mid longitudinally and had a DOHC 2 valve valvetrain with a 5 speed manual transmission. The logic behind positioning the engine backwards was improved weight distribution. Top speed for this supercar was 180 mph. with the ability to hit 0 to 60 mp in 6.8 seconds and 0 to 100 mph in 13.3 seconds. Gangini's space-age geometric design had an aluminum body which was supported by a steel spaceframe constructed by Marchesi. A little known fact is that the Countach not only came with its own tool kit, but also a complete set of luggage.
The Lamborghini Countach LP 400 was the first Countach production car and was built in Agata Bolognese, Italy. The original price tag for the LP400 was a cool $52,000. This meant that it was the first sold to the public. After the prototype made its appearance at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, the car slipped back to the factory for 3 years. Those years were spent turning it from a prototype to a production vehicle. Sporting Marcello Gandini's design and its 4 liter, V12 engine, the Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio became an instant hit. Today, the Periscopio remains one of the most sought after supercar collectibles in the world. Its space-age design can still be found on posters adorning the walls of bedrooms, workrooms and garages today.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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