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“The Cannonball Run” Countach LP 400 S turns 45

19 6月 2024

The two actresses driving the Countach LP 400 S that won the race are back together for the first time since the movie was released on June 19, 1981

One of the top automotive cult films of all times is, without a doubt, “The Cannonball Run”. To celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Countach LP 400 S that starred in the movie, Automobili Lamborghini brought together the exceptional female crew of actresses Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman for the first time since the movie’s release on 19 June 1981.

This Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S was produced forty-five years ago in November 1979. With a Nero (black) exterior and Senape (mustard) interior, this Countach was shipped to the then SEA dealership in Rome and, from there, it was most likely sold directly in the US, ending up in Florida. Its owner was a friend of the movie’s director and was signed on to begin its legend that led it to capture a place in American history. 

As “stage make-up”, it was given a wing and two full-beam headlights on the nose, a spoiler, three antennas and 12 exhaust pipes in back, along with two supplementary fake instruments in front of the passenger’s seat. After the filming ended, the Countach was returned to its legitimate owner, but didn’t shed its unique transformations especially made for it. In 2009, the car found a new owner, Jeff Ippoliti, an enthusiast originally from New York but now living in Florida who, as a boy, when watching the opening scene of the movie in 1981 never imagined that he would one day own the same car that had made him dream on the screen. “I had always been crazy about cars,” Ippoliti recalled, “but the opening of the movie was the first time I got to see and hear the Countach in motion, and I was captivated! I didn’t see it in person for the first time until twenty-six years later, and it took me another eighteen months of negotiations before I managed to take it home.”

The movie

“The Cannonball Run” was inspired by the actual Cannonball race, in which the participating cars had to cross the United States, starting off from New York and finishing in Los Angeles, in the shortest possible time. To say the least, the movie’s cast was outstanding, with actors such as Roger Moore, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Jackie Chan, and actresses such as Farrah Fawcett, Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman. The latter two played the race’s only all-female crew and drove the Countach, which won the race. Among the most memorable scenes is the initial three-minute police chase, in which the Countach’s 12-cylinder engine fitted with carburetors was added to the soundtrack. Also during the movie’s opening is a scene in which the Countach stops abruptly and the passenger gets out of the cockpit to spray-paint an “X” on a road sign. These scenes became a legendary reference among car lovers, so much so they became part of American tradition and ensured the Countach would become one of the very few cars “registered” at the Library of Congress. 

The US Library of Congress

Any artifact that is the fruit of human genius can be registered so that all the knowledge connected to it is filed to remain available, protected for future generations, in one of the most respected and traditional institutions of the United States of America, the Library of Congress. To do so, however, it must first be acknowledged as an object of extraordinary importance for American history, society and tradition. Once this recognition has been obtained – and as of today there are just over 30 cars that have achieved it – all the knowledge linked to that specific car, from the construction design to the photos, from the original documents to those that relate its history, are preserved and archived in the halls of the Library of Congress. The Countach LP 400 S of the movie was deemed worthy of this honor and became the 30th car to receive it in 2021, the year when the movie’s 40th anniversary was celebrated. 

Memories of the stars

They hadn’t met in person since they acted in the movie together in 1981. This is why the interview and account given by the stars Adrienne Barbeau and Tara Buckman can be considered extraordinary. The same Countach that they had driven back then, serving as the backdrop, made it all even more fascinating. And their memories began to surface. They admit that neither one had seen, or much less driven, a Lamborghini before. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be forgotten that at the time Lamborghini produced little more than fifty cars a year. “I immediately thought it was beautiful, simply beautiful, and it still is,” began Adrienne Barbeau, who played the part of Jill Rivers in the movie. “We had the best car and it was definitely the most beautiful of all,” added Tara Buckman, who was Marcie Thatcher in the movie. On why it was precisely the Countach chosen to win the race, Barbeau said, “I think that the Countach has the look of a winner, none of the others could have won. They were not in its league. And then the opening scene, with that soundtrack and the sight of the Countach racing along and playing hide-and-seek with the police car. Only the Countach could achieve an effect like that.” 

In answer to the question of whether they ever would have expected the movie to arrive at the legendary status that surrounds it today, they both said, “Never, not even for a second, and not just us. No one during the filming would have expected this incredible, long-lasting success!” 

“I had never realized how successful the movie was until when people started to ask me for my autograph. Still today,” Barbeau added, “in spite of my success as an actress in horror movies and playing Cat Woman in the Batman movie, people ask me above all to autograph Countach model cars.” 
“It’s impossible for me, too, to remember how many times I signed a photo or a model car of the Countach!,” Buckman added. 

A few of their favorite scenes: “The one where Tara gets out of the car and sprays an X on the road sign,” said Barbeau. Whereas for Tara Buckman it was, “the opening scene, with the police car chasing the Countach. There are lots of movies with great opening scenes, but this is definitely one of the best ever.”    
When asked how they thought this movie has impacted American culture and society, Barbeau replied, “Everyone knows it. And everyone knows this Lamborghini.” “Not only that. Everyone also knows the two girls in the Lamborghini. We are inextricably tied to that role,” Buckman added.

Lamborghini Polo Storico

Lamborghini Polo Storico is the in-house department of Automobili Lamborghini in charge of the company’s historical heritage, managing and studying the company’s archive, and restoring and certifying historical Lamborghinis. Inaugurated in spring 2015 at the headquarters in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Lamborghini Polo Storico is the point of reference for collectors of classic Lamborghinis coming from all over the world, and it takes care of models from the first 350 GTV of 1963 up to the last Diablo produced in 2001. 

Polo Storico’s activities focus on three main areas: the Archives, consisting of Automobili Lamborghini’s historical patrimony of technical and commercial information and documents; Certifications, representing the culmination of an in-depth process of documentary, archival and technical analyses of the car, concluding with the issue of a dedicated book certifying the authenticity of the car examined; and Restorations, carried out in full observance of the originality of the cars by a team of specialized technicians who work mostly in the Polo Storico workshop. 

Alessandro Farmeschi, After Sales Director of Automobili Lamborghini, commented, “As far back as when I was working for Lamborghini in the US, I had the opportunity to get to know this Countach LP 400 S and its extraordinary history. It’s a car that ignited a passion for the Lamborghini brand and for the Countach model in many young enthusiasts who, after growing up, came to us as customers of our brand and our cars. Although its specifications are not exactly the same as when it left the factory, it is undoubtedly historically important for Automobili Lamborghini and, as its entry into the Library of Congress certifies, for automotive culture and beyond, for the culture of an entire nation. As Lamborghini, we can only be filled with pride and we are happy to celebrate its 45th anniversary by reuniting the car with its unforgettable crew from the “Cannonball” movie”.


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