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The History and Evolution of the Lamborghini Countach

It doesn't matter if you've ever driven one or not, you probably know what a Lamborghini Countach looks like. The truth of the matter is that even those individuals who don't consider themselves car people know what a Lamborghini looks like when they see it. That's largely because the car has been so instrumental in changing the way the automotive industry thinks, not to mention the way they produce cars. Considering the fact that Lamborghini is a very exclusive brand and that these cars are not produced in large numbers, it's interesting to know that even someone who isn't really that interested in cars to begin with can almost immediately identify one on the rare occasion that they spot it.

It might surprise you to know that Lamborghini actually came onto the scene in the early 1970s with a prototype model. The car has always looked so does futuristic that it's hard to believe that it was built that long ago, but it's true. If you are interested in knowing more about the way that the car evolved over the years, starting with its earliest days as a prototype and ending with the 5000 QV model that was first produced in 1985 and marked the end of production of the Lamborghini, you can find out all about it by reading through the paragraphs listed below. Of course, there is a slight chance that the more you read about the car, the more interested you're going to become in having one for yourself. Remember, these cars have not been in production since 1990 so they're becoming increasingly hard to find. Many of them have also become collector's items, so if you do manage to find one expect to pay a hefty sum in order to get it.

1971 Lamborghini Countach LP500 Prototype

It’s hard to believe that this is a car that first came into being during the early 1970s. The car incorporated a design that made it look futuristic, almost like something from outer space. Many people think that holds true even today, so you can imagine how much interest a car like this generated when it showed up in 1971 as a prototype, especially when compared to many of the larger, heavier and much boxier automobiles that were popular at the time. This car was not something that just looked different, but it was different, in almost every conceivable fashion. First and foremost, it incorporated a construction design and technique that had never really been attempted before it was done for this automobile. For example, the car incorporated some rather unique honeycomb metal sheeting that made up the body, and this required a special technique when it was being made because it wasn't possible to construct it in the more standard fashion. The car also had what is frequently referred to as a mid-engine design, meaning that the engine is located directly behind where the driver sits. That's not an especially common concept for automobiles of today, but at the time, it was virtually unheard of.

This was a car that was capable of producing 370 horsepower without even breaking a sweat. It was far more aerodynamic than virtually anything else on the road, and it incorporated scissor style doors that opened straight up as opposed to outward. The prototype itself also had a very unique air intake system that really stood out against the construction of the body. However, it was proven rather quickly that the particular design was ineffective and didn't provide enough air flow to keep the engine running cool. Therefore, some extensive design modifications would have to be performed if the car was going to go into successful production. Many people might think that a car this unique would have been preserved for a museum somewhere. However, that was not the case here. Lamborghini wanted to gain approval for an application for production models in Europe and the only way to accomplish that was to use the prototype in a crash test. Eventually, that was the decision that was made. The car was put through its paces and Lamborghini was granted production certification. However, the car was destroyed in the ensuing crash test.

1974-1977 Lamborghini Countach LP400

In the three years since the prototype debuted, Lamborghini was busy making a lot of changes to the overall design in order to ensure that it would be street legal. As a result, the first Lamborghini Countach that was delivered as a production model hit the streets in 1974. It had been ordered by someone in Australia and was subsequently delivered to them. This car had the same 5.0 liter engine that the prototype employed, but there were a lot of design changes, as previously mentioned. Overall, the basic design remained largely unchanged but there were key differences in that design, things that any car lover would notice almost immediately. The first thing to go was the cluster of lights at the rear of the car, which had become quite popular on the prototype. In order to be street legal, Lamborghini was forced to replace that futuristic design with standard lights at the rear. For some people, this may not have seem like a big deal but for car lovers, it changed the looks of the car permanently. In addition, there were massive air scoops placed on each side of the car, right where the doors open. These became necessary to keep the car from overheating. Along with the large vents that were placed on the rear shoulders of the car, the look became quite unique indeed. Obviously, some people loved the idea and others weren't so crazy about it. After the design had been around for a while, most people seemed to warm up to the idea and so it remained.

Perhaps the thing that was most noticeable was the fact that the car didn't have wide tires like most people might think it would. Remember, this was produced in the 1970s. Tires were a lot different at the time, so this futuristic car ended up riding around on tires that were fairly narrow and not really that much different from those that were on virtually every other car on the road. That might be unthinkable today, but at the time it was rather commonplace. This was a car that was clearly designed for people that liked to drive something that was considered a cut above anything else that had ever been produced. Despite the fact that it was definitely not considered a daily driver, Lamborghini still sold 158 of these cars by the end of 1977. That's not bad for a three-year run. It also put the company in good shape for their next model, which would come along the following year.

1978-1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400 S

Lamborghini decided to make a lot of changes when this model debuted, starting with the engine. As opposed to the 5.0 liter 370 horsepower engine that had been used for the prototype and in the first generation of production models, an engine that was metered down to 350 horsepower was now employed for the second generation machines. Another change came with the tires. Gone were the narrow standard production tires that were used on the previous Lamborghinis. This car now employed Pirelli 345/35R15 tires, which quickly became known as the widest tires that were in production at the time. Furthermore, these tires became standard features on the second generation of Lamborghini Countachs. The car also incorporated fiberglass fairings that arched over the tires, with more subtle fairings being placed at the front of the vehicle and the wider, more obvious design at the rear. An optional feature on the car included a rather odd looking wing that was designed to look like a giant “V” that could be placed at the rear of the car. It definitely improved the handling characteristics of the automobile, but it also created a tremendous amount of drag, effectively making the car at least 10 miles per hour slower. Owners that wanted it had to order the car with it and surprisingly, and overwhelming majority of people did exactly that.

Overall, Lamborghini produced three distinctive versions of the car between 1978 and 1981. They weren't different in the sense that they were still the LP400 S, but there were certain changes that were noted during particular years. For instance, the cars that were produced in 1978 had the same steering wheel as the first generation Countach and it also incorporated smaller gauges and specific wheels. 1979 marked a larger steering wheel along with larger gauges. In 1980, the wheels were changed to the concave design that are still famous today. Finally, in 1981, the ride height of the car was raised by just a few centimeters, also effectively increasing the height of the cockpit by the same amount.

1982-1984 Lamborghini Countach LP500 S

For whatever reason that Lamborghini reduced the power output for its second generation of automobiles, it quickly discovered that this was not exactly a popular move with customers. This was corrected in 1982 when the third generation of Countachs began hitting the road. This time, the engine was larger and capable of producing more horsepower, bringing it closer to the original prototype. As far as other changes go, they were all to the interior. Lamborghini decided that the old interior looked rather dated and it was time to update things and make it look more modern in order to match the exterior appearance. There were virtually no changes to the exterior or to anything else from a mechanical standpoint, with the exception of the bigger engine.

1985-1988 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 Quattrovalvole

The engine was made larger still in 1985 and four valves per cylinder were added, leading to the name of this particular model. Another major change involve the carburetors. Previously, the Countach’s carburetors had been positioned on the side of the engine but that caused problems with them being able to get enough air to perform at top levels. In 1985, Lamborghini moved them to the top and then was forced to create a new deck for the car in order to accommodate their presence. This essentially caused a hump in the rear deck and it made it virtually impossible to see anything at all when backing up or looking to check traffic. Lamborghini really decided to go all out with this model and even went to the expense of creating body panels that were made out of Kevlar. This is an extremely lightweight and strong material, and is commonly used on fighter jets that are manufactured today. Kevlar is also used for bulletproof vests. However, this arguably marked the first time that it was used on a production automobile. Eventually, Lamborghini decided to fix the problem associated with the carburetors by merely eliminating them and incorporating fuel injection instead.

Virtually everything about the Lamborghini Countach was unique. Many of the techniques that were employed to construct this car have not been used before or since. Even in today's ultra modern automotive industry, the same techniques are not employed. Lamborghini also had one other outstanding difference when it comes to the Countach versus other automobiles that have gone into production. Even though there were some major changes with regards to performance and an upgraded interior, the overall look of the car remained remarkably similar from the time that the car entered production until the production run ended. This is not something that hardly ever happens, and it serves as a testament to the overall quality of the Lamborghini design dating all the way back to his prototype days.

As far as car lovers are concerned, many people dream about owning one of these for themselves. They're not exactly practical, as they're only two seaters and they don't exactly get great gas mileage. That being said, the type of individual that would be interested in owning a car like this for themselves isn't exactly in it for the gas mileage or even for taking the family on a drive. It's all about that performance aspect, of being able to feel the raw power of the vehicle beneath you. If that's the type of thing that you're interested in, you might be lucky enough to find a Lamborghini Countach for sale somewhere along the way.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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