Ashley’s Countach experience
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.