A-Z Supercars: Lamborghini Countach

No shape says supercar more clearly, but the Lamborghini Countach was also a great drive

Mention the word ‘supercar’ to anyone with even a vague interest in the subject and even if the word doesn’t immediately slip into the conversation, the image that will flicker into focus like a Derren Brown mind-plant will almost certainly be that of the Lamborghini Countach. As it was at its launch in 1974, it remains the shape that defines the genre, though by the time the horribly over-embellished valedictory Anniversary edition appeared in 1990, Lamborghini had perhaps forgotten how outrageously perfect the unadorned original design was.

Indeed, it was conceived as a styling exercise, then adapted for use on the public highway – but its genesis was hijacked (thankfully) by people with an obsession for high performance and, for better or worse, motorsport. Its tubular steel chassis was delicate but light and strong, as was the alloy body. The questionable space-efficiency of the Miura’s transverse motor was ditched in favour of a longitudinal orientation for the V12 and from each corner hung a pair of wishbones. By the time it had morphed into the best version of all, the Quattrovalvole, it had grown taller but become more habitable too, allowing grown adults to sit upright in the cabin.

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The quattrovalvole engine regularly saw 470bhp on the dyno and Ferrari’s rival Testarossa felt slow by comparison. The QV’s racing car origins shone through in the way it drove, with fully uni-balled suspension and a kerb weight of just 1447 kilos. Once up and running, the Countach was a blast, a cardiovascular gym session drenched in carburettor gurgle and rasping V12 overrun. Today, it’s a reminder of what vast mechanical power used to feel like before powered controls and electronic assistance. A warm glow if you got it right, your own page on WreckedExotics if you didn’t.

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Specifications

Years made 1974-1990 Engine V12, 5167cc (5000 QV) Max power 455bhp @ 70000rpm (QV) Torque 369lb ft @ 5200rpm 0-60mph 4.9sec Max speed 180mph Price £82,000 new,£100-150,000 now

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