I stood face-to-fascia with a childhood dream, thanks to a tangential connection to Houstonâ€™s 2016 Lamborghini Festival. And yet, like all designs born pure and modified to remain relevant, the original Lamborghini LP400â€™s purity of form is sometimes absent in this time capsule, all-original LP5000.Â
But please believe that, LP400 or no, it took every fiber of my being to avoid the typical auto journo blather on this sheet of vellum.
No offense to the 2005 Ford GT, but the Countach wasâ€”and remainsâ€”the Pace Car For An Entire Company.Â Its DNA lies within Lamboâ€™s latest iron: strong triangulation/trapezoidal themes, an impossibly low nose, and those unforgettable rear-engine supercar proportions are present on todayâ€™s HuracÃ¡n and Aventador.Â Peep this photo for proof.Â
The Countachâ€™s beauty lies in how every hard bend and geometric shape changes its demeanor relative to one’s vantage point.Â LikeÂ the trapezoid hood above versus the last photo. Â Also note how the fender haunches protrude above the hoodâ€™s plane, less obvious in the last photo.
Yep, real aluminum slats. Sadly, the LP400â€™s useless, flat-faced aluminum “non-bumper” befits the body better than thisÂ bumperette.
This gorgeous lighting pod naturally draws your eyes to the brand name.
Iâ€™d expect the Countach to be hastily assembled in the Italian supercar tradition, but the threaded license plate hardware says otherwise.
I hope someone knows the reason forÂ the emblem’s two clear bubbles. Other manufacturers have done better for decades before this.Â
Compared to the aforementioned LP400 panel,Â note how the evolution to a bumper to meet (a modicum of) accident protection completely changes the shape of the “fender”.Â Shame â€” the LP5000 Countach has a â€œdouble chinâ€� look.
And no, this isn’t an American-bumper double chin: this is a Euro-spec LP5000.
The double chin bumper adds an unnecessary plane to the bodyâ€™s flat, powerful thrust. It also distracts from the delightful sliver-toned negative area where the signal/marker light resides.
Perhaps this nit couldnâ€™t be picked if the bumper mirrored the fender’s vanishing point.
But said vanishing point looks properly parallel from a higher angle. The contrasting trapezoidal hood cutline adds more excitement, just like on a modern Lambo.
And soÂ much taper in that fender!
Hidden headlights (within an unassuming panel) wereÂ allÂ the rage in Italian design studios. They did a great job lowering the nose and increasing the â€œless is moreâ€� aesthetic.Â Both are sorely missed today.
Thereâ€™s that ill-advised bumper vanishing point again! Owners of LP400s can squat this low in admiration of their rides, butÂ the hood/fender surface tension goes awry with afterthought bumpers.
Bumpers aren’t a liability at this angle.Â Adding that legendary trapezoidal windscreen and we’re done.
The surface tension between the hood and fenders is clear(ly stunning).
Note the ceiling’sÂ bent fendertop reflection: stunning surface tension!
A canvas devoid of clutter earns a hall pass for exposed wipersÂ with c-clip.Â Perhaps it adds to the Countach’s engineering fortitude?Â
The use of silicone(?) adhesive is everywhere.Â SuchÂ â€œhandcrafted characterâ€� is thankfully a relic.
But step back, and who cares?Â Â That windshield is pure 1970s fantasy, a sign of unreachable 1980s status. The strong triangular elements are, once again, pureÂ Lamborghini DNA.
Sure, those slapped-on bumpers, fender extensions and largeÂ air-intake feature areÂ over the top. But all willÂ step back in awe at theÂ brutalist triangular elements and low slung, rear-engine proportioning.
Â This carÂ once ruled the world. For good reason.Â
The LP400â€™s less angular, flat wheel arches disappeared for these iconic LP5000 trapezoidal flares, integrating the â€œheavyâ€� feeling bumper andÂ echoing triangle DNA.
(Please disregard theÂ mere Jaguar in the background!)
More Triangle Talk:Â windscreen, the front fixed window, the depressing little DLO non-failing spot, and the lower half of the doorâ€™s cutline. Much DNA present.Â
Itâ€™s all quite perfectly triangulated, by design.
Too bad the fixed vent window glass couldnâ€™t extended further and eliminate this DLO non-fail.
Oh, that Italian supercar panel fitment!Â Only bested by exposed black adhesive.Â
Most 1970s designs were aerodynamically challenged by 1985 standards, and these doors must have been a nightmare to seal at high speed.
Can you imagine this with a bespoke mirror design?Â Â The adjustable rubber boot affair get the job done, but they detract (rather than seek inspiration) from the body.Â
And the triangle theme growsÂ strongerÂ when the portal swings open!Â Such a staggeringly steep line guarantees a triangle theme! The Aventador is Dodge Avenger mundane from here.
Admire the low slung, triangle-intensive greenhouse: daring doesnâ€™t cover it.
The quarter window (as it were) drops deep, transitioning toÂ intake vents.
So deep thatÂ the plane containing the seat belt anchor continues the triangular theme inside!Â Â
No surprise, thereâ€™s cooling functionality behind the grilles.
The quarter window looked square a few photos up, but here?Â Totally triangulates with the theme, plus it kind of looks like the Diablo!
The forward facing scoop is pureÂ sci-fi spaceship. Note surface tension fromÂ the â€œbentâ€� top.
The scoopâ€™s “neck” looks unfinished at the front: a brutal transition for sure.
Triangles, rhombuses, squares and rectangles at countless angles.Â Depending on your vantage point, sometimes a rectangle appears like a rhombus and vice versa.
Flame surfacingÂ is a stupid way toÂ make a carÂ come alive â€” instead, have faith in one’sÂ ability to walk around a cohesive design that changes shape as you move with it.
TheÂ intake scoop’s full profile is a logical (yet jolting) addition to the greenhouseâ€™s natural lines.
If only that scoop had the same level of tumblehome (i.e. the top-to-bottom taper) of the quarter window: far less jolting. But the further back and lower you go, the Countach rewards with rounder elements equalizing the brutalist geometry.
Note the chrome release for the scissor doors: if only the 1990s automotive aftermarket didnâ€™t marginalize this.Â
ThisÂ massive triangle-esque body scoop element is an almost vulgar interruption to anÂ otherwise clean bodyside.
Why vulgar? The arbitrary tape line of this all original (i.e. nobody’s painted it) example’sÂ flat-black design feature: less iconic and more kit car. A slight transitional dip in the body would let the black paint â€œsitâ€� nicely in a proper home.
Pininfarina didnâ€™t half-ass the TestarossaÂ like thisÂ mixed bag.
Note the rounder elements of the rear wheel arch: not perfect, but a logical solution for wider tires onÂ the narrow LP400.
It would have been nice â€” real niceÂ â€” if the body scoopâ€™s most rearward line shared a vanishing point with the door cutline, as they currently fight each other.
But the body scoopâ€™s upright status complements the upper scoop.
This is a challenging car to critique.
So step back and soak those proportions, those minimalist geometric undertones.Â Too bad Pablo Picasso died the year before the LP400 hit the assembly line. I reckon the cubist co-founder would be rightly inspired by it.
The LP5000â€™s extra flare detracts from the hard-nosed brutalism present in such a strong drop from the rear bumper (as it were) to the rear wheel.
The same story at the front wheel well, to a lesser extent.Â Â
Just imagine if the wheel arch/flare was gone â€” such brutality in form!Â WhileÂ not without its charms, the flareÂ changes the demeanor of the conversation.
Thereâ€™s something disconcerting about the number of parts to make this flare. Perhaps it goes against the spirit of the LP 400?
Oh dear. Just like the windscreen, there’s black silicone (?) used likeÂ grout between tiles.
Countach wheel DNA peaked a few years before. Originally with cylindrical barrels projecting from each hole like a six (well, five) shooter pistol, these restyled hoops seem almost pedestrian.
Their fate was sealed when the Honda CRX and Ford Escort/EXP copied â€˜em.
Delaminating chrome is sad on a low mile original example. WWGD? (What Would Gandini Do?)
Iâ€™ve alluded to Brutalism, and the Countach’s posterior geometric architecture makes a strong case for the minimalism better known from concrete postwar buildings. You’d think Brutalism would make the Countach appearÂ slow, but no!
Like a cheese wedge presented on a platter, with its pointy edge rudely cut by an uncouth guest, anotherÂ triangle theme emerges at the rear. Â If that analogy didn’t work, consider this like aÂ Play-Doh extrusion tool with the cut-off lever.
If only Play-Doh had an extrusion tool with this shape!Â
This posterior’sÂ aggressive shape blends logically withÂ every triangle theme from the B-pillar forward.Â
The vents on said extruded form arenâ€™t flush fitting; disappointing in a minimalist-interrupted way.
Much like that rear fender flare sealed with black silicone, too many parts make up a single taillight.
Separate red reflector.
Three layers: the red base, the white backup lease and the red icing atop the white lens.
All lower-case lettering is an exciting contrast againstÂ todayâ€™s MINIs, FIATs, and KIAs.Â But the clumsy one-piece, underlined emblem underscores this design’s “I’m too advanced for current production techniques” demeanor.
That extruded, brutalist shape has serious depth. Oh, and more black goo, too.Â
Rear plate holder aside, the volume of negative area on this posterior is a Sir Mix-A-Lot song played backwards.
Again, lower case becauseÂ itâ€™s a lamborghini. And flat black for understatement, because chrome is for jerks.Â
Is that another triangle shape inside the hood/cargo area?
And does it add even more negative area excitement to the Countach?Â Why yes, yes it does.
â€œYou want more trunk space andÂ I want more negative area! How much crap you wanna carry in thisÂ masterpiece, anyway?â€�
The hoodâ€™s â€œpower domeâ€� drives the Brutalist architecture theme home. Itâ€™s enamoring, like the Logan’s RunÂ escape scene, filmed at a decidedly brutal location: the Fort Worth Water Gardens.
I wonder how wellÂ these cooling vents perform, forced to fit in such a rigid,Â architectural aesthetic.Â
WhoÂ cares: itâ€™s intoxicating.
â€œThere… is… no… sanctuary.â€�
Too bad Logan 5 didnâ€™t hop into a Countach after escaping from the Fort Worth Water Gardens.
These cooling features could be the Countach’sÂ most impressive feature. It serves a purpose â€” an engineering need â€” while making a statement no less bold than anÂ impossibly low greenhouse withÂ challenging scissor doors.Â
And yet, itâ€™s somewhat hidden within a large negative area on the body. More to the point: when you think Countach, do you recallÂ these features?
Gandini cared not forÂ ergonomics or conventional supercar wisdom with the LP400 (and its successors). What he gave us is no different than Moroder’s contribution to music.Â Thank goodness for that: he blended static geometry and the Brutalist Architecture aesthetic into a wildly popular Supercar. Â Sure, the classically-styled Miura came first, Pininfarinaâ€™s Testarossa excels in surface detailing and driver-focused ergonomics, but the Countach pushed the supercar into the stratosphere.
Most importantly, the Countach’s DNA remains abundantly presentÂ in todayâ€™s Lamborghinis. Can’t say that about any Ferrari from 40-plus years ago…at least not with a straight face.Â
Thank you for reading (the fruits of my 20-plus hours of labor) â€” I hope you have a wonderful holiday.