It’s finally happened. I can tick another “to do” off my long list of things I need to get done before I die. For many people of my generation there is one exotic that is the embodiment of a supercar. Its posters have graced walls of car obsessed kids across the world, many have played with die cast models of it and probably all have dreamed about owning or driving it. The Lamborghini Countach was designed by Marcello Gandini at Bertone, the same designer that penned the equally beautiful but totally different Miura. The Countach defined Lamborghini for the better part of two decades…
…giving way to the equally memorable Diablo in 1990. I have seen many at events, shows and museums, but I’ve never had the chance to spend some quiet time with one and do a full shoot on it.
My visit to Sodegaura Forest Raceway a couple of Sunday’s back was done to allow me to stretch the legs of the Lamborghini Gallardo LP-570-4 Superleggera I had been given for the weekend and to hunt down some cool Japanese vintage rides that were participating at a TA-Auto organized soukoukai.
So much for that idea! As soon as I spotted this red Countach parked up in the paddock I knew that a chance like this wouldn’t come up anytime soon.
The owner was very enthusiastic about having his prized possession shot, a car he bought new in 1988 and has been enjoying ever since. As the above badge indicates this is the 25th Anniversary edition, a special run of 650 or so cars that were built to celebrate Lamborghini’s then 25 years.
Gandini’s wedge design is simply incredible when seen up close.
When I was a kid the 25th Anniversary was my favorite model as it had all the cool aggressive aerodynamic treatment…
…the bigger air intakes and of course the massive optional rear spoiler.
The rear end also sported redesigned taillights, which were much smaller and recessed compared to the original 1975 LP400. I think with age and maturity comes an appreciation for simpler things and these days I definitely prefer the basic and spoilerless designed of the original car.
As futuristic as the design was for its time, and today too, it does cause some issues when it comes to visibility. To get around this the owner has fitted a camera under the right side mirror so he can kind of see where he is going when reversing.
The Countach introduced the scissor doors that these days continue to grace the top of the line Lamborghini, the halo car if you will, the latest being the new Aventador.
A little detail on this 25th Anniversary edition, the special sill finishers.
The interior is just about as angular as the exterior. Everything has been left stock except for the addition of an LCD screen to facilitate reversing maneuvers.
The clock displays the original mileage, 38,686 km or just over 24,000 miles. Not bad for a 23 year old car.
Every surface is wrapped in soft leather, which despite its age, still seems to be in great condition.
The headrests are embossed with a very small bull. Obviously branding was a little more sedate back in the eighties.
Of course Gandini’s wedge design with the cockpit moved as far forward as possible was done to free space…
…for the massive V12 engine sitting in the back.
Carburetors supply the required fuel necessary to develop 455 HP of brute naturally aspirated power. According to Lamborghini’s original figures that is good enough for a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 sec and a top speed of just over 180 mph. Not bad if you consider it hits the scales at 1,590 kg.
One of the most obvious modifications to the 25th Anniversary were the larger air intakes to help supply a bigger charge of air to the two radiators. The Countach’s biggest problem was always overheating and this particular car was suffering from just that problem at Sodegaura. On the drive over from Tokyo the owner noticed the water temperature spiked north of 100º C. Upon closer examination when at the track, he discovered that both motors driving the extractor fans had seized meaning it could no longer be used. He called for a flatbed to come and collect the car.
Airboxes were also a little bit larger on this model to help feed a bigger amount of air to the 5.2L V12.
This particular car has been very slightly modified with a pair of HID driving lights up front…
…and a cut away rear lower bumper section to help give a more menacing look. This has exposed the exhaust system which has been modified with upward angled tailpipes for a more dramatic effect.
Of course the cut away bumper also allows the massive rear 345/35ZR15 Pirelli rollers to be fully visible from the back.
What a profile!
By the time I was done with the shoot the transporter had arrived and the owner did the usual Lambo door-up reverse maneuver in order to align it up to the flat bed.
Needless to say that after having the chance to shoot such an important piece of modern automotive history, I was well and truly satisfied!
-Dino Dalle Carbonare