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Countach LP400 Prototipo
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  Lamborghini Countach LP400 Prototipo      

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Country of origin:Italy
Produced in:1976
Numbers built:5
Designed by:Gandini / Bertone
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 06, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIt 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.

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  Article Image gallery (19) 1120202 Specifications User Comments (3)