1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Periscopo”

The restorers did not go overboard. They even left a few weld dimples in the door shuts to retain an original bit of character

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 liters, 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.

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 facility during crash testing.

The production car, designated the LP400 in recognition of its somewhat downsized yet ever-potent 4-liter V12 powerplant, was presented for public viewing at the 1973 Geneva Motor Show. To reduce the prior LP500’s tendency to overheat, production cars incorporated additional air boxes to feed cooler air to the relocated radiators, while NACA air ducts were added to the sides of the car to further aid cooling.

Other notable changes marked the LP400, including the addition of a pair of small side windows, a revised taillight design and the use of Stewart-Warner instruments. A Fichtel & Sachs aluminum clutch, as used in the mighty Porsche 917 race cars, plus a pair of six-plug Marelli distributors, were specified for the LP400 as well, rounding out the development of the production Countach. Just 150 LP400s were built before the introduction of the LP400S in 1978 and the car offered here is the 15th car built, the first right-hand-drive example, and has had just five owners from new.

The second English owner exported 1120026 to Florida’s Palm Beach in the early 1980s, where it was seen still retaining its British registration number HPP 5. It returned to the U.K. in 1987, this time registered JYP 43N. Extremely rare when new and even more so today in such wonderfully correct and carefully maintained condition, this 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 represents the clean, initial version of the definitive Italian supercar. It is most certainly the most outrageous automotive design statement of the 1970s and 1980s.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst - %%page%%

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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