Ash­ley’s Countach ex­pe­ri­ence

New Zealand Classic Car - - Feature Car -

With three of New Zealand’s top mo­tor­ing ti­tles pro­duced at Park­side Tow­ers each month, it’s hardly sur­pris­ing that we get to see some very nice cars rolling into our pur­pose-built car stu­dio on an al­most daily ba­sis. How­ever, when two iconic ’80s su­per­cars — a Lam­borgh­ini Countach and one of its arch ri­vals, a Fer­rari Tes­tarossa — turned up to­gether for the photo shoots you see in this is­sue, you can imag­ine the ker­fuf­fle. Two Ital­ian thor­ough­breds side by side looked quite sur­real, es­pe­cially for me, as I had al­ways ad­mired the Tes­tarossa. How­ever, parked along­side the Countach, the flat-12 Fer­rari looked al­most plain — al­most!

When our fea­tured Countach’s owner asked me if I’d like to go for a quick ride fol­low­ing our photo shoot, I couldn’t climb aboard fast enough — al­beit with some de­gree of dif­fi­culty thanks to my lanky legs — af­ter all, how of­ten does one get to ride in one of their favourite ex­otic cars?

Once un­der way, put­ter­ing through the leafy in­ner-auck­land sub­urb of Grey Lynn, with the throaty sound of that sonorous V12 re­ver­ber­at­ing off the area’s finely re­stored Ed­war­dian vil­las, we headed down to the North­west­ern Mo­tor­way at Western Springs. There’s ab­so­lutely no way to be dis­creet driv­ing around in one of th­ese cars — they are ab­so­lute mag­nets for rub­ber­neck­ers, and, for those quick enough to have their cell­phone at the ready, a bright-red Lam­borgh­ini Countach is made for the per­fect shot.

I watched in­tently as the car’s owner man­aged this mas­sively wide and low supercar among the al­ways-congested Auck­land traf­fic with con­sum­mate ease, and, al­though all the con­trols looked as if they’d be heavy, I was sur­prised at how nice the Lam­borgh­ini’s ride was. Alas, my trip in this out­ra­geous car looked as if it would be a short one, as our di­rec­tion of travel al­tered as we headed back to­wards base. Then the owner asked, “Would you like to drive it back?” I couldn’t be­lieve my ears.

We stopped in the middle of Grey Lynn, and, un­der the watch­ful gaze of café-go­ers, pedes­tri­ans, and as­sorted passers-by, I squeezed my­self into the driver’s seat. Coun­tachs def­i­nitely are not the eas­i­est car to get into — es­pe­cially if you’re 1.8-plus me­tres tall, as your legs tend to get caught un­der the steer­ing wheel in the process of get­ting in and out. How­ever, that cer­tainly wasn’t go­ing to stop me from em­brac­ing the pleas­ant task at hand.

Pulling away from the pave­ment, the first thing I no­ticed was how heavy the clutch was, but, once first gear was en­gaged and the car started rolling, all is for­given. Pulling out into a steady stream of traf­fic in a left-hand-drive car that’s just a few cen­time­tres off the ground, and with vir­tu­ally no rear vis­i­bil­ity what­so­ever — thanks to a rear win­dow about the size of en­ve­lope — fur­ther im­peded by a wing large enough for an Air­bus A380 to change course with, is tricky to say the least. What fol­lowed was only a short drive, but it was cer­tainly enough for me to get a feel for the car. Yes, it’s ev­ery­thing you read about, and, yes, it looks like it was de­signed us­ing noth­ing but a ruler — there are those who think the car is brutishly ugly and con­trived. But when you’re be­hind the wheel, the Countach feels like a car you would never get bored with driv­ing, of­fer­ing a sense of oc­ca­sion ev­ery time you swing open those wildly out­landish scis­sor-like doors. It’s hard to take your eyes off the amaz­ing-look­ing de­sign, and even though I only had a short drive, it was truly mem­o­rable — much like the Countach it­self.

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