LAMBORGHINI COUNTACH LPI 800-4
HOW SANT’AGATA’S MOST ICONIC BADGE ROARED BACK TO LIFE
We talk to the movers and shakers at Sant’Agata on whether bringing back a legendary badge was only ever going to put Lamborghini onto a hiding to nothing
COUNTACH! SOME FIFTY years after the iconic Lamborghini supercar was revealed at the 1971 Geneva Show, Sant’Agata has revived the nameplate for a limited run of 112 homage models based on the underpinnings of the Sián FKP37 hybrid hypercar. Revealed at The Quail motorsport gathering at Pebble Beach this year, credit for the styling of the Countach LPI 800-4 goes not to Marcello Gandini, but to Mitja Borkert’s team at Lamborghini Centro Stile.
“The first Countach has been present in our Centro Stile as a model for some years now”, explains Borkert. “Whenever I look at it, it gives me goose bumps and it serves as the perfect reminder for me and the entire design team to design every future Lamborghini in a visionary and futuristic way. This is an unnegotiable part of our DNA, the essence if you so will. The first Countach shaped the Lamborghini design DNA like no other car; the new Countach translates that unconventional and edgy character into the future.”
Given that the hard points are shared with the Sián, it’s unsurprising that some of the proportioning looks similar. The Sián already carried over a number of design cues redolent of the Countach such as the trapezoidal bonnet feature line, the scissor doors, the sculpting of the roof that paid tribute to the original persicopio and three-point rear light graphic. The nuovo Countach extends that theme still further.
Retaining the distinctive silhouette with the instantly recognisable ‘Countach line’ that has shaped all modern mid-engined Lamborghinis, the car’s front end hints at a secondary set of pop-up lamps with an indented detail line, while the LPI 800-4 also features slatted box intakes on the rear haunches, vast side intakes (we won’t call them NACA ducts because they aren’t) and quad exhaust tips. The wheels are interesting, their five-hole theme tipping a hat to the original’s Campagnolo alloys without being an overly literal recreation. It would have been easy to source a set of lookalike Vossen LC-103 forged alloys but Lamborghini clearly didn’t want to step too far down the retro path.
“The Countach LPI 800-4 is a visionary car of the moment, just as its forerunner was,” says Automobili Lamborghini President and CEO Stephan Winkelmann. “The Countach LPI 800-4 pays homage to this Lamborghini legacy but it is not retrospective: it imagines how the iconic Countach of the 70s and 80s might have evolved into an elite super sports model of this decade. It upholds the Lamborghini tradition of looking forward, of exploring new design and technology avenues while celebrating the DNA of our brand.”
It’s fairly understandable that Winkelmann would take that tack, having painted himself into something of a corner after the unveiling of the 2006 Miura concept by saying, “The Miura was a celebration of our history, but Lamborghini is about the future. Retro design is not what we are here for. So we won’t do the Miura.”
When MOTOR asked chief technology officer Maurizio Reggiani whether, as a result of that stance, there was some resistance to reviving the Countach name and ethos, he claims that the decision was straightforward.
“It was a big discussion in our board because our CEO, Mr Winkelmann, is not in favour of a retro car, but Countach is something so different because it was not only a car in ‘71 but also a completely different partition of a supersports car. Countach is an exclamation in Italian dialect that tries to scream surprise, so only a name like Countach can represent what was in the ‘70s and what we want to do today in terms of surprising our customers. And for this there was no discussion to use again the name Countach for this car.”
THE WHEELS TIP THEIR HAT TO THE OLD CAMPAGNOLO ALLOYS WITHOUT BEING AN OVERLY LITERAL RECREATION
Was there ever a temptation to plant a big arrowshaped wing on the back? Mitja Borkert jumps in to answer that one. “The purism of the Countach is so important, so we took inspiration from the first concept car, the LP500, but then also from the first production car, the LP400. Then also one version was the Quattrovalvole version from the ‘80s. The most significant for me was they are without the wing, because the original design of Bertone was without it. We have said with the technology we have today we will create a car as puristic and simple and clean as possible. Being the Countach of the 21st century and not using a wing was very important.”
“When standing, the car had to be clean and beautiful,” adds Reggiani, drawing parallels back to that 1971 Geneva show concept.
So here we are, with a car with at least one toe in the past, skirting fine lines of definition between tribute, homage and retro. Borkert pointedly calls it “not retro”. Reggiani assures us that this badge revival isn’t about to open the floodgates on past models being revived. “Mr. Winkelmann was really clear. We don’t
HEAD OF DESIGN MITJA BORKERT POINTEDLY CALLS THE COUNTACH LPI 800-4 “NOT RETRO”
want to use all the names,” he explains. “Countach is something different. Countach redefined completely, not only for Lamborghini but also for the entire world, the supersports car in terms of approach, in terms of design and in terms of technology. In the future we will not ever homage to the Miura, to the Diablo or of other cars of Lamborghini.”
Peer under the skin and there’s a firm foot in the future. Where the last of the Countach Anniversary models generated a peak power figure of 335kW and torque of 500Nm, the new car can do a bit better than that. It’s good for 599kW as a combined system output, with 574kW coming from its 6498cc V12 normally aspirated powerplant and another 25kW from its super-capacitor-powered 48V electric motor mounted directly on the seven-speed single-clutch gearbox. Peak power arrives at 8500rpm, while the peak torque figure of 720Nm is available at 6750rpm. So it’ll need some revs.
Lamborghini quotes performance figures of 2.8 seconds to 0-100 km/h, with 200km/h arriving in 8.6 seconds en route to a top speed of 355 km/h. By contrast a Countach QV could achieve 200km/h from standstill in 17.0 seconds, which means the new Countach’s 0-200 time is to the QV what the QV’s is to a Fiesta ST’s. That’s progress for you.
Dry weight has been kept to 1595kg thanks to a monocoque chassis and all body panels finished in carbon fibre. Exterior carbon details are evident in the front splitter, the door mirrors, the windscreen surround, the massive rear diffuser, the engine cover air intakes and rocker panel.
The Sián’s beautiful pushrod suspension units carry over, working magnetorheological adaptive dampers. Carbon ceramic brake discs measuring 400mm up front and 380mm at the rear are clamped by six- and four-
piston calipers respectively. The wheelbase of 2700mm is a massive 250mm longer than the original Countach, but four-wheel steering helps the new LPI 800-4 to a turning circle of just 11.4 metres, making it significantly wielder in town than the original, which featured a 13m turning circle.
The cabin is a good deal more sophisticated than its slightly crude forebear and, at first glance, the dash layout is almost indistinguishable in layout from that of the Sián. Look a little closer at some of the detailing and there’s a nod to the past. The old Countach’s box section binnacle is homaged in the seat design, with bold box sections stitched into the comfort seats, with that square stitching theme extending onto the dashboard. Press the ‘Stile’ button on the 8.4-inch centre touchscreen and the system explains the Countach design philosophy.
Lamborghini is offering a wide range of heritage paint options, mostly in solid colours, such as the iconic Impact White, Giallo Countach yellow and Verde Medio green. Should you prefer a more contemporary paint finish there are hues such as metallic Viola Pasifae or Blu Uranus. The show car at The Quail, and which is pictured here, is painted in an ultra-subtle shade of pearlescent blue called Bianco Siderale. The factory claims that this in itself is a hat-tip to Ferruccio Lamborghini’s own Countach LP 400 S, complete with red and black leather heritage interior. Given that Ferruccio’s car was a white 1980 low-body vehicle with a solid black interior, that’s perhaps a bit of a stretch, but Lamborghini always fond of a tall tale or two.
The 112-car production run, which is currently under way for 2022 deliveries, is another nod to the heritage of the Countach, the number a tribute to the ‘LP 112’ internal project name used during the Countach’s development. The fortunate few buyers will take delivery from quarter one of next year. Pricing? Nothing has been officially revealed just yet, but given that the Sián commanded $3.9m, it’s fair to assume the LPI 800-4 isn’t going to be too far off the mark. Right-hand drive production is assured, so it’s likely that we will see a handful of cars in Australia.
Winkelmann has in many ways transferred a strategy he sharpened at Bugatti back to Sant’Agata. Bugatti developed limited-run specials like the Divo, Centodieci, and La Voiture Noire while utilising an existing platform, taking advantage of sunk costs and aggressive mark-ups. Much of the hard work with homologation and type approvals has already been taken care of, boosting perunit profitability still further.
While celebrating half a century of Countach is a worthy endeavour, it’s hard to reprise a legend. There will be some who feel that Lamborghini should have left well alone, that delving back into the archives to revive the Countach badge can only ever result in a pale shadow of the original’s impact and legacy. But while the Countach LPI 800-4 now plays in a pool of many rather than one, there’s no doubt that if you’re ever lucky enough to chance upon one of the 112 cars, it’ll be memorable.
WINKELMANN HAS TRANSFERRED A STRATEGY HE SHARPENED AT BUGATTI BACK TO SANT’AGATA