»And you shall name it COUNTACH!«

Lamborghini pays tribute to the Countach with a modern homage. A unique feat in the company's history. Entirely justified.
Text Matthias Mederer
Photo Matthias Mederer · ramp.pictures

When the Lamborghini Countach was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971, the world's public was initially gobsmacked. And it still does so today. Whenever a Countach drives by. Which occurs very rarely. The world knew the Miura, it was the 1960s. The world was colorful, uninhibited and full of a spirit of optimism. The Miura was beautiful, feel-good exhibitionism, in a not even waist-high and rather elongated automotive design, if you will. The Lamborghini Countach was none of those things. It screams right into the face of its beholder even as it stands still: »Do you really think you can take me on?« The fact that many people - including many seasoned men - would answer with a quiet no rather than a firm yes is a very important reason for its fascination, which remains unbroken to this day. Fear always fuels and accelerates the Countach. Anyone who drives a Countach today knows its limit. He has approached it. Several times. And from both sides.

»We don't do retro design at Lamborghini,« Stephan Winkelmann says straight away. Then he adds: »Actually.«

And with that, he basically says everything about the significance of the Lamborghini Countach.

The Lamborghini Countach has always played a special role in the company's history. It still defines the design DNA today. Mitja Borkert, chief designer, speaks again and again of the Countach line, which defines every current Lamborghini from the front tip to the rear. And so, too, the birth of the original Countach may have been more of a Greek epic than a sober vehicle development. Yes, even today CEO Stephan Winkelmann likes to tell the story that the then young Marcello Gandini, employed by the Italian coachbuilder Bertone, drew the Countach and that a little later the dialectical exclamation of a legendary Piedmontese word for absolute enthusiasm was used as the name donor. But all this sounds very unlikely.

Much more believable at the sight of an original Countach is a story that a young, talented design wizard took the design DNA of a Miura on a night with a full moon, smashed it to pieces with an axe, and then threw it right into the seething heart of a massive twelve-cylinder. Most definitely, there was a massive eruption that nearly destroyed beautiful Emilia Romagna, indeed all of Italy, before it all imploded in on itself and solidified into this badass and pure sculpture of the Lamborghini Countach. From offstage, presumably with tremendous verve, spoke the voice of Morgan Freeman: »And you shall name it COUNTACH!« And the young designer nodded. Pretty much that's how it must have been. At least only this version seems plausible, when standing face to face with a Countach.

And today? In the center of Lamborghini, just one floor above the production line of the Urus in Sant'Agata Bolognese, stands the new Countach, ident: LP 800-4, limited to 112 units. No sign of wizards. Instead, stylish gentlemen in Italian tailor-made suits. »We don't do retro design at Lamborghini,« Stephan Winkelmann says straight away. Then he adds: »Actually.« And with that, he basically says everything about the significance of the Lamborghini Countach. To this day, the side view and front view of the original Countach define every Lamborghini. »Even if you can't tell at first glance which model is in front of you, with these striking views from the side and front, it's immediately clear to everyone that this is a Lamborghini,« Winkelmann specifies. And because the Countach has such a decisive influence here, this special series, limited to 112 units, is available today. 112 because the original Countach was known internally as Project 112.

The engine? Of course a V12, longitudinally mounted. But also a mild hybrid, with an electric unit familiar from the Sían and equally sophisticated, intelligent aerodynamics.

The engine? Of course a V12, longitudinally mounted. But also a mild hybrid, with an electric unit familiar from the Sían and equally sophisticated, intelligent aerodynamics. From a technical point of view, this Countach is many things, just not an homage, but a development continued in the tradition of the brand. Visually, however, it is a modern interpretation of everything that has contributed to the cult of the Lamborghini brand in the almost 20 years that the Countach has been built, starting with the LP 500 and including defining features of the LP 400, through to the Periscopio lines on the roof, the distinctive air vents on the shoulders or inspiration from the Quattrovalvole in the front or the wheels. Nearly every detail picks up as a quote from the past.

The importance of the Countach for chief designer Mitja Borkert is evident from the moment you walk into Centro Stile. Directly after the entrance door, one catches sight of a 1:8 model designed by Marcello Gandini. »I deliberately placed it here,« says Borkert. On the one hand, because it reminds him and his team every day where the brand comes from, and on the other, because it should spur them on to shape the future in an equally formative and visionary way. »For me, the Countach story starts with the 1971 LP 500. That's the pure essence of design, everything has evolved from there.« Until today.

All the way to the Countach LP 800-4 from 2021.

To be continued, one might say.

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