• Comprehensive restoration with extensive receipt file
  • $23,000 paint by Stuart’s Paint & Body Specialists of Dallas, TX
  • $80,000-plus in mechanicals by Norwood Auto Italia of Carrollton, TX
  • New leather interior panels and carpet from marque specialists
  • Factory tools and manual included

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1984 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 S
Years Produced:1982–85
Number Produced:323
Original List Price:$100,000
SCM Valuation:$269,500
Tune Up Cost:$500
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on trailing edge frame in the engine bay and on an ID plate next to the coils on the left side engine bay
Engine Number Location:Between the cylinder heads
Club Info:Lamborghini Club America
Alternatives:1973–84 Ferrari BB, 1976–2004 Lotus Esprit, 2011–12 Lexus LFA
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot S652, sold for $308,000, including buyer’s premium, at Russo and Steele’s Monterey Auction on August 23, 2018.

If anyone can be said to have invented the modern supercar, it would have to be Marcello Gandini, when he was working for Bertone on the Lamborghini Countach. While the Countach wasn’t the first design to suggest that Lamborghini’s future was angular rather than curvaceous, Gandini penned a shape that set Lamborghini apart and inspired generations of supercar designs.

The Countach was developed from the late 1960s into the 1970s as Lamborghini’s Project 112. The first prototype was displayed in Geneva in 1971 and was called the LP500. LP stood for Longitudinale Posteriore, reflecting the rear-mounted and fore-aft engine orientation, and 500 for the planned 5.0-liter displacement of the V12. The design was a reaction to the Miura, in which the engine was transversely mounted just aft of the cabin, creating noise issues. (See the October 2018 issue of SCM, p. 82, for Donald Osborne’s look at the Miura P400.)

There are various stories about how the LP500 came by the Countach (Koon-tosh) name, but they all center on the fact that it’s a Piedmontese exclamation of astonishment with no clear English translation. However, the word carries various connotations ranging from PG to R ratings, so we assume it’s heartfelt.

When the first Countach prototype was unveiled in Geneva, it set the premium sports-car world abuzz. Another prototype was displayed in 1973, equipped with the same 4.0-liter engine used in the Miura. Orders were taken, and the first production vehicle was delivered in 1974, called the Lamborghini Countach LP400, nicknamed “Periscopio” for its unique periscope-style rear-view mirror arrangement. The multi-mirror rear-view assembly looked up and backwards through a channel in the roof, since the rear window was vestigial for all practical purposes.

What is a Countach?

The Countach is impressive down to its bones. The car is built around a tubular steel space frame, with aluminum (and later, Kevlar) body panels, and a fiberglass floor pan. The engine is oriented clutch-forward, with a 5-speed manual transmission located between the driver’s and passenger’s seats. A driveshaft takes power back to the rear axle, passing through the engine’s oil pan on its way. The Countach features independent suspension for all wheels, and Girling disc brakes under 15-inch front and 16-inch rear wheels.

The LP400 featured a 3,929-cc V12 engine rated at 370 horsepower and 266 foot-pounds of torque. This model was produced until 1977 with about 150 cars made, carrying a suggested U.S. retail price of about $52,000. The succeeding LP400 S lost the Periscopio design, gained a body kit, and had less power (350 hp/263 ft-lb). This generation saw about 235 cars built from 1978 to 1982.

In 1982, displacement was raised towards 5 liters (4,754 cc), and the body kit got larger. Lamborghini added a rear wing, and the new model was called the LP5000 S.

The 5000 S was claimed to produce 370 horsepower and 308 ft-lb of torque. However, in U.S. specification, the car was legally rated at 325 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque. This generation originally sold for about $100,000, and about 323 were made.

In 1985, Lamborghini really started to pump up the Countach with a 5.2-liter engine rated up to 449 horsepower and 369 ft-lb, and that engine carried through to the end of production in 1990. This version was officially called the LP5000 Quattrovalvole. The body kit got even larger and more pronounced once again, finding its extreme in the 1988 25th Anniversary (of Lamborghini) edition. In all, about 2,049 examples of the Countach were made over the 16-year production run.

Hot or not?

When it comes to buying a Countach, there could be up to a million dollars worth of difference depending on the generation you choose.

In today’s market, the SCM Platinum Auction Database shows us that a quality LP400 Periscopio will bring from $750,000 (SCM# 6858219) to about $1.2 million (SCM# 6874813). Later models command only a fraction of that price, with many examples (SCM# 6858139) selling in the $200,000–$300,000 range.

Why the disparity? It’s not like there was a big drop in performance over the years. The LP5000 QV offers the most engine power, turning a 0–60 mph time of 4.7 seconds compared to the claimed 5.9 seconds for the LP400. Build quality, such as it was, didn’t change much over the life of the Countach, either.

Simply put, the old ones are prettier than the later models — at least when it comes to the prevailing taste right now. The Countach started out smooth and pure, but over the years Lamborghini loaded it up with body cladding, fender flares, garish wings and larger bumpers.

The Countach came to the point where it looked fantastic as a poster on a teenager’s wall (admit it, we all had them) but is that what you really want in a collection today?

A well-documented Countach

Our subject car, a 1984 Lamborghini Countach LP5000 S, has undergone a comprehensive restoration totaling more than $100,000 in viewable receipts. The seller even provided a clean CARFAX that potential bidders could download, although these carry dubious provenance at the best of times. The car has 49,849 km (31,000 miles) showing on the odometer. All indications are that this is a proper restoration and a worthy example of the Countach line.

The SCM Pocket Price Guide lists a median price for this generation of Countach at $269,500, so this particular example did about as expected. The above-median sale price is likely due to its recent restoration.

Another 1984 model sold for $258,500 earlier this year (SCM# 6867808) and a 1983 version failed to sell on a bid of $328,663 (SCM# 6863802), so this sale is well within the ballpark, and not at all controversial.

There’s no doubt that the Countach will always be a sought-after collectible. The lesson here is that unless you really want that Periscopio, you can save some money on a later model. It’s still going to be a Countach. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Russo and Steele.)

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