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Lamborghini Countach LP500 Turns 50: the story of a legend

11 March 2021
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March 11, 1971, Geneva Motor Show, 10 o’clock in the morning. The Lamborghini Countach LP 500 in yellow made its first public appearance, thus marking the beginning of unprecedented success and changing the course of the history of Automobili Lamborghini forever. The unveil of the prototype was so well received that the company raced against time to satisfy the customers’ requests and transform the futuristic show car into a production car. 

The Countach Project

The Countach project, unveiled in Carrozzeria Bertone’s space as the Lamborghini stand featured the Miura SV – yes, a double presentation was quite a statement of innovation and production prowess - had the internal code number LP112. LP stands for the rear longitudinal position (“Longitudinale Posteriore” in Italian) of the 12-cylinder engine, which stemmed from Ferruccio Lamborghini’s desire to maintain the image of a company at the forefront of style and technology following the Miura.

Paolo Stanzani and Marcello Gandini

Responsible for the mechanical part of the Countach was engineer Paolo Stanzani, at that time Lamborghini’s General Manager and Technical Director, while its beautiful, clean, futuristic lines (including those of the scissor doors that since then have characterized Lamborghini’s V12 models) were styled by Marcello Gandini, Design Director of Carrozzeria Bertone.

Prototype and production car

The LP 500 was a substantially different car than the Countach that would go into production in 1974. It had a platform frame rather than a tubular one, it was equipped with a 12-cylinder 4971cc engine (one of a kind), the engine air intakes had a shark gill design, and inside it featured sophisticated electronic instrumentation.

Road testing

Following the LP 500’s success in Geneva, Lamborghini’s chief test driver Bob Wallace used the car, equipped with a more reliable 4-liter engine, for every possible kind of road test. The career of this extraordinary car ended at the beginning of 1974, when it was used for the crash tests required for the homologation of the production car and subsequently scrapped.

The dream lives up to today

From 1974 to 1990, 1,999 Countachs in five different series were produced, fascinating and enchanting (the bedroom walls of) an entire generation, destined to enter permanently into the halls of legend.

Read also: Marcello Gandini Tells the Story Behind the Name Countach

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