Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopo

The future of the modern Automobili Lamborghini was revealed at the 1971 Geneva Auto Show with the first public display of the new Countach, believed to be so named after a loosely translated and rather risqué Piedmontese expression of utter disbelief. Outrageous and seemingly otherworldly even by today’s standards, the car’s dramatic styling with its trademark scissor doors and low, angular, wedge-shaped body left all onlookers speechless.

The show car was designated the LP500, for Longitudinale Posteriore 5 Litri, or longitudinal-rear five litres, with a mid-mounted engine located in front of the rear axle, while the gearbox was mounted in front and positioned between the two seats. Cleverly, the final drive passed back through the engine sump, under the crankshaft, to the differential. As a result, the engine was raised, necessitating the installation of side-draft Weber carburetors to maintain a relatively low rear-deck profile.

By virtue of this arrangement, the Countach was shorter in both wheelbase and overall length than its predecessor. However, since the stunning design of the Countach provided virtually no rearward visibility, a periscope-type rear-view mirror was added, lending the name “Periscopo” to the initial Countach series. Unfortunately, just one LP500 was built, and it was ultimately destroyed at England’s Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) facility during crash testing.

The production car, designated the LP400 in recognition of its somewhat downsized yet ever-potent four-litre V-12 powerplant, was presented for public viewing at the 1973 Geneva Motor Show. While the LP400 closely resembled the LP500 prototype, there were some differences. At the insistence of development driver and engineer Bob Wallace, the chassis, produced by long-time Lamborghini supplier Marchesi, was redesigned, and the bodywork was now constructed of lightweight aluminium.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in October of 2010 at the Battersea Evolution, London.

375 bhp, 3,929 cc V-12 engine with dual overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, six Weber dual-choke carburettors, five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar, independent rear suspension with upper lateral links, lower A-arms, upper and lower trailing arms, dual coil springs and anti-roll bar, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.5"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Tim Scott/Fluid Images

Gallery: Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopo