Vellum Venom: 1985 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 QV

1985 Lamborghini Countach, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I stood face-to-fascia with a childhood dream, thanks to a tangential connection to Houston’s 2016 Lamborghini Festival. And yet, like all designs born pure and modified to remain relevant, the original Lamborghini LP400’s purity of form is sometimes absent in this time capsule, all-original LP5000. 

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.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

No offense to the 2005 Ford GT, but the Countach was—and remains—the Pace Car For An Entire Company.  Its DNA lies within Lambo’s latest iron: strong triangulation/trapezoidal themes, an impossibly low nose, and those unforgettable rear-engine supercar proportions are present on today’s Huracán and Aventador. Peep this photo for proof. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The Countach’s beauty lies in how every hard bend and geometric shape changes its demeanor relative to one’s vantage point.  Like the trapezoid hood above versus the last photo.  Also note how the fender haunches protrude above the hood’s plane, less obvious in the last photo.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front Grille, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsYep, real aluminum slats. Sadly, the LP400’s useless, flat-faced aluminum “non-bumper” befits the body better than this bumperette.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Light, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsThis gorgeous lighting pod naturally draws your eyes to the brand name.

1985 Lamborghini Countach License Plate Holder, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I’d expect the Countach to be hastily assembled in the Italian supercar tradition, but the threaded license plate hardware says otherwise.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Emblem, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I hope someone knows the reason for the emblem’s two clear bubbles. Other manufacturers have done better for decades before this. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side Bumper, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Compared to the aforementioned LP400 panel, note how the evolution to a bumper to meet (a modicum of) accident protection completely changes the shape of the “fender”.  Shame — the LP5000 Countach has a “double chinâ€� look.

And no, this isn’t an American-bumper double chin: this is a Euro-spec LP5000.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front Signal Light, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The double chin bumper adds an unnecessary plane to the body’s flat, powerful thrust. It also distracts from the delightful sliver-toned negative area where the signal/marker light resides.

Perhaps this nit couldn’t be picked if the bumper mirrored the fender’s vanishing point.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front Signal Light, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsBut 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 so much taper in that fender!

Hidden headlights (within an unassuming panel) were all the rage in Italian design studios. They did a great job lowering the nose and increasing the “less is more� aesthetic.  Both are sorely missed today.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Hood, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

There’s that ill-advised bumper vanishing point again! Owners of LP400s can squat this low in admiration of their rides, but the hood/fender surface tension goes awry with afterthought bumpers.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Hood, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Bumpers aren’t a liability at this angle.  Adding that legendary trapezoidal windscreen and we’re done.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Hood, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The surface tension between the hood and fenders is clear(ly stunning).

1985 Lamborghini Countach Hood, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Note the ceiling’s bent fendertop reflection: stunning surface tension!

1985 Lamborghini Countach Wiper Arm, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

A canvas devoid of clutter earns a hall pass for exposed wipers with c-clip.  Perhaps it adds to the Countach’s engineering fortitude? 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Windshield, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The use of silicone(?) adhesive is everywhere.  Such “handcrafted character� is thankfully a relic.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Windshield, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

But step back, and who cares?  That windshield is pure 1970s fantasy, a sign of unreachable 1980s status. The strong triangular elements are, once again, pure Lamborghini DNA.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Sure, those slapped-on bumpers, fender extensions and large air-intake feature are over the top. But all will step back in awe at the brutalist triangular elements and low slung, rear-engine proportioning.

 This car once ruled the world. For good reason. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front Wheel, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The LP400’s less angular, flat wheel arches disappeared for these iconic LP5000 trapezoidal flares, integrating the “heavy� feeling bumper and echoing triangle DNA.

(Please disregard the mere Jaguar in the background!)

1985 Lamborghini Countach A Pillar, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

More Triangle Talk: windscreen, the front fixed window, the depressing little DLO non-failing spot, and the lower half of the door’s cutline. Much DNA present. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach A Pillar, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

It’s all quite perfectly triangulated, by design.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side Mirror, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsToo bad the fixed vent window glass couldn’t extended further and eliminate this DLO non-fail.

1985 Lamborghini Countach A Pillar Up Close, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsOh, that Italian supercar panel fitment!  Only bested by exposed black adhesive. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach A Pillar Up Close, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Most 1970s designs were aerodynamically challenged by 1985 standards, and these doors must have been a nightmare to seal at high speed.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side View Mirror, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Can you imagine this with a bespoke mirror design?  The adjustable rubber boot affair get the job done, but they detract (rather than seek inspiration) from the body. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Scissor Door, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

And the triangle theme grows stronger when the portal swings open! Such a staggeringly steep line guarantees a triangle theme! The Aventador is Dodge Avenger mundane from here.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Roof and Greenhouse, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Admire the low slung, triangle-intensive greenhouse: daring doesn’t cover it.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Intake Scoop, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The quarter window (as it were) drops deep, transitioning to intake vents.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Intake Scoop, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

So deep that the plane containing the seat belt anchor continues the triangular theme inside!  

1985 Lamborghini Countach Intake Scoop, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

No surprise, there’s cooling functionality behind the grilles.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Intake Scoop, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About CarsThe quarter window looked square a few photos up, but here?  Totally triangulates with the theme, plus it kind of looks like the Diablo!

The forward facing scoop is pure sci-fi spaceship. Note surface tension from the “bent� top.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Intake Scoop, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The scoop’s “neck” looks unfinished at the front: a brutal transition for sure.

1985 Lamborghini Countach B Pillar, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Triangles, rhombuses, squares and rectangles at countless angles. Depending on your vantage point, sometimes a rectangle appears like a rhombus and vice versa.

Flame surfacing is a stupid way to make a car come alive — instead, have faith in one’s ability to walk around a cohesive design that changes shape as you move with it.

1985 Lamborghini Countach B Pillar, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The intake scoop’s full profile is a logical (yet jolting) addition to the greenhouse’s natural lines.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

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 didn’t marginalize this. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

This massive triangle-esque body scoop element is an almost vulgar interruption to an otherwise clean bodyside.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Why vulgar? The arbitrary tape line of this all original (i.e. nobody’s painted it) example’s flat-black design feature: less iconic and more kit car. A slight transitional dip in the body would let the black paint “sitâ€� nicely in a proper home.

Pininfarina didn’t half-ass the Testarossa like this mixed bag.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Scissor Door Open, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Note the rounder elements of the rear wheel arch: not perfect, but a logical solution for wider tires on the narrow LP400.

It would have been nice — real nice — if the body scoop’s most rearward line shared a vanishing point with the door cutline, as they currently fight each other.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

But the body scoop’s upright status complements the upper scoop.

This is a challenging car to critique.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Side, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

So step back and soak those proportions, those minimalist geometric undertones. 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.

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The LP5000’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.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Front Wheel, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The same story at the front wheel well, to a lesser extent.  

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Fender Flare, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Just imagine if the wheel arch/flare was gone — such brutality in form!  While not without its charms, the flare changes the demeanor of the conversation.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Fender Flare, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

There’s something disconcerting about the number of parts to make this flare. Perhaps it goes against the spirit of the LP 400?

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Fender Flare, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Oh dear. Just like the windscreen, there’s black silicone (?) used like grout between tiles.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Wheel, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

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 ‘em.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Bertone Emblem, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Delaminating chrome is sad on a low mile original example. WWGD? (What Would Gandini Do?)

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Three Quarters, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I’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 appear slow, but no!

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Three Quarters, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Like a cheese wedge presented on a platter, with its pointy edge rudely cut by an uncouth guest, another triangle theme emerges at the rear.  If that analogy didn’t work, consider this like a Play-Doh extrusion tool with the cut-off lever.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Fender, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

If only Play-Doh had an extrusion tool with this shape! 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Fender, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

This posterior’s aggressive shape blends logically with every triangle theme from the B-pillar forward. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Fender, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The vents on said extruded form aren’t flush fitting; disappointing in a minimalist-interrupted way.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Taillight, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Much like that rear fender flare sealed with black silicone, too many parts make up a single taillight.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Taillight, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Separate red reflector.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Taillight, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Three layers: the red base, the white backup lease and the red icing atop the white lens.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Emblem, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

All lower-case lettering is an exciting contrast against today’s MINIs, FIATs, and KIAs.  But the clumsy one-piece, underlined emblem underscores this design’s “I’m too advanced for current production techniques” demeanor.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Valence, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

That extruded, brutalist shape has serious depth. Oh, and more black goo, too. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Valence, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Rear plate holder aside, the volume of negative area on this posterior is a Sir Mix-A-Lot song played backwards.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Emblems Bull, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Again, lower case because it’s a lamborghini. And flat black for understatement, because chrome is for jerks. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Is that another triangle shape inside the hood/cargo area?

And does it add even more negative area excitement to the Countach? Why yes, yes it does.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Trunk, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

“You want more trunk space and I want more negative area! How much crap you wanna carry in this masterpiece, anyway?�

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Hood Hatch, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

The hood’s “power domeâ€� drives the Brutalist architecture theme home. It’s enamoring, like the Logan’s Run escape scene, filmed at a decidedly brutal location: the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Hood Hatch, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

I wonder how well these cooling vents perform, forced to fit in such a rigid, architectural aesthetic. 

Who cares: it’s intoxicating.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Hood Hatch, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

“There… is… no… sanctuary.â€�

Too bad Logan 5 didn’t hop into a Countach after escaping from the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Hood Hatch, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

These cooling features could be the Countach’s most impressive feature. It serves a purpose — an engineering need — while making a statement no less bold than an impossibly low greenhouse with challenging scissor doors. 

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Hood Hatch, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

And yet, it’s somewhat hidden within a large negative area on the body. More to the point: when you think Countach, do you recall these features?

1985 Lamborghini Countach Rear Glass Backlight, Image: © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars

Gandini cared not for ergonomics or conventional supercar wisdom with the LP400 (and its successors). What he gave us is no different than Moroder’s contribution to music. Thank goodness for that: he blended static geometry and the Brutalist Architecture aesthetic into a wildly popular Supercar.  Sure, the classically-styled Miura came first, Pininfarina’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 present in today’s Lamborghinis. Can’t say that about any Ferrari from 40-plus years ago…at least not with a straight face. 

Thank you for reading (the fruits of my 20-plus hours of labor) — I hope you have a wonderful holiday.