If ever there’s been anything that is the very embodiment of the term ‘Italian supercar,’ it’s the original Lamborghini Countach. Designed by the great Marcello Gandini, the Countach set the template for dramatic, wedge-shaped supercars, many of which have followed in its footsteps over the last few decades.
The first Countach prototype was unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show and the car went into production in 1974, with Lamborghini going to on to produce close to 2,000 units of this car until 1990, when the Countach was replaced by the Diablo.
Loud, fast, exuberantly-styled, hard to get into and out of, more than a bit impractical and completely, utterly adorable – that was the original Countach. Innumerable middle-aged men, most of whom have never even seen a Countach in the real world let along drive one, but who did have posters of the car up on their bedroom walls when they were schoolkids, are still in love with Countach. For them, but also for a whole new generation of supercar enthusiasts who’ve grown up watching the car on YouTube, Lamborghini is now bringing the Countach back to life.
Well, no, the original Countach isn’t coming back, of course. But there’s the all-new Countach LPI 800-4, which was unveiled yesterday at the Quail Motorsports gathering in the US. It’s a limited-edition car and Lamborghini says only 112 units of the new Countach will be produced. The car is powered by a hybrid powerplant; a good old Italian V12, along with an electric motor to help with getting some green cred.
With its all-carbon fibre body, the new Countach weighs only 1,595 kilos. With 769 horsepower from its 6.5-litre V12 (mated to a 7-speed gearbox) and another 33bhp from its electric motor, the car packs in more than 800bhp, allowing it to accelerate from zero to 100kph in just 2.8 seconds. The performance is relentless, with zero to 200kph coming up in 8.6 seconds, with a stratospheric top speed of 355kph.
“The Countach LPI 800-4 is a visionary car of the moment, just as its forerunner was. The Countach represents our philosophy of reinventing boundaries, achieving the unexpected and extraordinary and, most importantly, being the ‘stuff of dreams.’ [The new Countach] is a Lamborghini that innately expresses the marque’s enduring and emotive power; always inspirational and thrilling to see, hear and most of all drive,’ says Automobili Lamborghini President and CEO, Stephan Winkelmann.
“The first Countach has been present in our Centro Stile for some years now [and] whenever I look at it, it gives me goosebumps. It shaped the Lamborghini design DNA like no other car. The new Countach translates that unconventional and edgy character into the future,” says Mitja Borkert, Head of Centro Stile, Lamborghini.
Some might ask, is the new Countach, with its V12 petrol engine, still relevant? The original Countach was quite a shocker when it was first let loose upon an unsuspecting world, in the 1970s. Today, after 50 years, the world is a different place altogether. It’s all about zero emissions, sustainable mobility and electric cars are beginning to take on the world. They are also, in some cases, offering unbelievable power and performance – the recently unveiled Pininfarina Battista all-electric supercar boasts 1,900bhp (more than twice the new Countach’s power) and will easily out-accelerate the Countach.
Will today’s school and college kids again put-up posters of the Countach on their bedroom walls, like their fathers did 40-50 years ago? The honest answer is, nobody really knows. There are some voices of dissent, which say that ‘Countach’ is a special name for Lamborghini and the company should have saved it for their first all-electric supercar, which they will inevitably have to build someday.
Another camp believes it would be sacrilege to have the Countach nameplate on an electric car and it has to be the last bastion of the glorious Italian V12 internal-combustion engine. While that debate rages on, we’re happy that the Countach is back. The styling is dramatic as ever, the doors still swing open upwards, power still comes from a massive V12 and performance is still outrageous. The poster child of Italian supercars is back and our bedroom walls are waiting.