Drive Italia: Lamborghini Countach

Epic engine, scissor doors, limited visibility, and wider than a Range Rover – the Lamborghini Countach was the quintessential supercar!

Photo by Martyn Lucy/Getty Images

Lamborghini Countach

Breaking with the tradition of naming cars after famous bulls and bull fighters, word has it that ‘countach’, an exclamation of astonishment in the Piedmontese dialect, was frequently used by a craftsman who was working on the prototype. The name was jokingly suggested to Lamborghini engineer Bob Wallace by Bertone car designer Marcello Gandini, and it stuck!

Synonymous with the excesses of the 1980s, the Countach incorporated successful aspects of its predecessor, the Miura, such as the rear mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout, along with many new engineering and styling innovations, including the signature ‘scissor’ doors.

The Countach was designed around the Lamborghini V12 engine; styling was progressively altered as new production models were introduced. Later additions, including fender flares, spoilers, carburettor covers and bumpers, changed the Countach body in order to improve the model’s performance, safety and appearance. Despite these updates, however, the basic shape of the first Countach prototype, revealed in 1971, remained virtually the same throughout its 19 years of production.

Taking over the mantle from the Miura was always going to be a challenge and, with just under 2,000 cars produced of all the models, the car has always been exclusive. The Countach’s successor, the Diablo, is also a quite fabulous car but, as is always the case with classic cars, the heart tends to rule the head and, certainly as far as charisma goes, the Countach has few equals. Flawed, undoubtedly; but a ‘Super Car’, unquestionably. 

See more iconic Italian cars in our Drive Italia! archive