Model history: It must not have been easy for Marcello Gandini to pen a replacement for the highly acclaimed Miura. Instead of continuing along the lines of the mid-engined sportscar the Bertone designer and Lamborghini started off with a clean sheet. In a bold move both the curvaceous lines and the transverse engine were replaced by a modern wedge and a longitudinal V12 respectively. When Feruccio Lamborghini was shown the first prototype he exclaimed 'Countach', which in the Italian Piemontese dialect is used to describe an attractive woman; the name stuck.
First shown at the 1971 Geneva Motorshow, the Countach prototype featured a 5 litre version of the much acclaimed V12 engine. The drivetrain's longitudinal configuration and displacement explained the type indication 'LP500'. Like it's predecessor the Countach featured an innovative adaptation of the mid-engined layout; this time the gearbox was mounted in front of the engine for a better weight balance. The power was then transferred to the rear wheels by a driveshaft, which ran through its own tunnel in the engine's sump. This would become a trademark mid-engine Lamborghini layout for decades to come.
Although visually similar the production car was almost completely different from the first running prototype. Gone were the monocoque chassis and 5 litre engine, which were replaced by a tubular frame and the Miura derived four litre engine. The prototype's powerplant proved to be too fragile and eventually self destructed in a high speed test session. Some of the original car's clean lines were lost by the addition of a number of necessary cooling ducts and vents. What was retained was the unique scissor-like door mechanism, another soon to be Lamborghini trademark feature.
Two years after the prototype's debut, the production car was launched and officially dubbed Countach LP400. Production of Lamborghini's iconic supercar would last for nearly two decades. Before it was replaced in 1990 five different evolutions of the Countach were constructed. With each evolution power increased and so did the amount of plastic used for additional flares and bodykits. The five litre engine finally became available in 1982 and three years later four valve heads were introduced, bumping the power to 455 bhp for the European version from the original 375 bhp of the LP400.
The 28th Countach off the line, chassis 1120056 was built to custom order of wealthy Haitian Albert Silvera. A personal friend of Ferruccio Lamborghini, Silvera had previously ordered one of the Miura SV/Js and would later commission another Countach. To accommodate for all his special requests, this Countach was not finished by Lamborghini but by Bertone, who were better equipped to complete the custom work. Among the unusual features were the silver bumper, an antelope suede leather dashboard cover and the 'periscope' rear view mirror. The car also received a tweaked engine with a reported 60 or 70 additional horses and an open exhaust system.
Finished in a striking 'Rosso Dino', the car was completed in January of 1975. It was personally picked up by Silvera and his wife Gladys from the factory where Lamborghini himself handed over the keys. Braving the winter conditions, the proud new owner drove his latest acquisition through Europe to Paris. The custom Countach was subsequently flown to New York for the next leg of the journey, which saw the Silveras drive down the East Coast to their Miami home. Unlike his Miura SV/J, Silvera never brought the custom Countach to Haiti.
Little over a year later, on April 5th 1976, Silvera sold 1120056 to an American enthusiast to make room for a new Countach. In the following years, the unique Countach passed through several hands including those of American journalist and photographer Winston Goodfellow. By the time the current, Dutch owner acquired the car, some of its original features like the silver bumper were lost. Eager to uncover the complete story of the ex-Albert Silvera Countach, he dove deep into the car's history and managed to speak to most of the previous owners, including Gladys Silvera. He has since returned the car to its original configuration, while carefully retaining its highly original condition.
The result of this labour of love was first seen at the 2012 Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, where the striking Countach was fittingly displayed alongside a Miura SV/J. Although forty years old now, the Countach still looks futuristic and was accordingly awarded the 'Trofeo Auto & Design' by the jury for the most exciting design. It also received a Mention of Honour in its class.