Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Periscopio” chassis 1120066Engine number: 1120070 The exceptional example of Lamborghini’s original LP400 “Periscopio” Countach offered here, chassis 1120066, was produced in the model’s second production year, 1975. The car was finished by the factory as seen today, in Blu Tahiti over a Naturale (light tan) leather. As with all LP400s, 1120066 was fitted with a kilometers-per-hour speedometer and Celsius temperature gauges. Interestingly, the car is fitted with engine 1120070 (engine 1120066 resides in chassis 1120062). According to Lamborghini authority Valentino Balboni, it was not uncommon that technical issues, such as delays on the dynamometer or, most often, delivery urgencies, would result in the first available engine being selected and installed — but no corresponding correction would be made to the already installed serial-number plate. As such, according to Balboni, there are “known reasons to consider engine number 1120070 [as] originally fitted by the manufacturer in chassis 1120066.” The fact that the car has never been separated from its engine in the 36 years that it has been in the care of the present owner further corroborates this. Delivered new to Zurich, Switzerland, in March of 1975, 1120066 was acquired by the current owner from the Auto Palace in Pittsburgh, PA, in 1978. For decades, two Countaches resided in the owner’s garage with minimal use, first in Ohio and later in Florida. Between the limited practicality of the machine and the busy work schedule of its keeper, fewer than 16,500 original kilometers (10,252 miles) have been enjoyed in 1120066 over the past nearly four decades. Never shown publicly and rarely seen since being acquired, 1120066 appears today as a veritable time capsule — a beautifully original Periscopio. Inside, its seats and console show minimal wear. All of its original fixtures, such as its Phillips stereo and factory climate controls, are still in place looking virtually new. The gauges and Christmas-tree warning lights are similarly untouched. Outside, the original Campagnolo wheels were fitted with a new set of Michelin XWX tires about a year ago. In the front trunk, the never-used spare sits under the original tool set. Most recently, a full repaint of the exterior in the original Blu Tahiti was completed to alleviate the deleterious effects of the past 40 years. The original paint was retained in the doorjambs and under the trunk and engine lids. With its fewer than 11,000 original miles and its long-term owner’s meticulous maintenance, 1120066 must be one of the most original LP400s around today. The car presents as a low-mileage, correct example — surely the best way to buy one of these delicate thoroughbreds. With its original engine intact and its original color combination preserved, 1120066 has been spared alterations or later-model spoiler and wing upgrades. An iconic car for its era, the Countach ushered in the era of the modern supercar, and here is an exceptional example of the original Countach.
Lamborghini Countach LP400 “Periscopio” chassis 1120070Engine number: 1120068 A rare, right-hand-drive example, chassis 1120070 was delivered new to Malta, its first owner being one Alfred John Gaul. The car was first registered in the U.K. in 1990, and it was first owned in this country by a well-known collector, the late John “Jack” Tattershall. In the current ownership since 1993, the Countach has been driven on the road every year since its acquisition, albeit sparingly, and currently displays a believed-genuine total of only 12,500 kilometers (approximately 7,800 miles) on the odometer. The reading at time of acquisition in 1993 was 10,500 kilometers. As one would expect of a car that has seen relatively little use, this Countach remains in remarkably original condition; indeed, the engine has never been apart. Repainted in the 1990s, it is finished in one of the nicest color combinations of Blue with Ice interior, the latter original and nicely patinated. Over the years, 1120070 has been carefully maintained by recognized specialists (Lorenzini Motorsport, Motorapide, Bob Houghton). The car also comes with its original service book, stamped initially by the Lamborghini factory, the instruction manual and a U.K. V5 registration document.
|Original List Price:
|$500 (two required)
|Chassis Number Location:
|Stamped on trailing edge frame in the engine bay and on an ID plate next to the coils
|Engine Number Location:
|Between cylinder heads
|Lamborghini Club America, Lamborghini Owners Club
1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio chassis 1120066 sold for $1,210,000, including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Greenwich, CT, sale June 1, 2014.
1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 Periscopio chassis 1120070 sold for $1,624,044 (£953,500, £1=$1.74), including buyer’s premium, at Bonhams’ Goodwood, U.K., sale on June 27, 2014.
There’s nothing quite so disappointing as when a long-held record or a greatly anticipated achievement is made — only to have it overtaken and shaded by a new high point in an embarrassingly short time frame. Think of Ferrari Formula One driver Felipe Massa in the 2008 Brazilian GP. He crosses the finish line in 1st place and has earned enough points to be World Drivers’ Champion. General celebration in the pits! A few seconds later, however, his closest challenger, Lewis Hamilton, passes another car for 5th, on the final corner of the final lap of the final race and earns a single point more than Massa, and with it the Championship. Easy come, easy go.
Auction companies, although they will not say it’s their aim, do enjoy setting records. It’s great for publicity and attracts new consignors who want the maximum return possible for their cars while congratulating the seller on his or her good judgment in choosing the right company with which to sell. Curiously, it also feeds the ego of the buyer, who can claim to have the “most valuable” example of a particular model — even if it may not be the best or most important.
A new world record for the Lamborghini Countach at auction was set in Greenwich, CT, on June 1, 2014, when Lot 388, an early LP400 “Periscopio” model finished in blue sold for $1.2m. Incredibly, Bonhams blasted through their own just-set record a few weeks later when they sold Lot 337 at their Goodwood, U.K., sale on June 27. This other 1975 Countach LP400 Periscopio cost its new owner $1,624,044 to take home. One of a few right-hand-drive examples built, it was also blue and had covered an indicated 12,500 km (7,767 miles).
The Lambosphere was abuzz over the result, with many comments after the Greenwich sale. Some centered on the fact that the price achieved was impressive indeed, considering it was for an example neither freshly restored nor totally original, as it had been resprayed. A colleague of mine had inspected the car a while back, prior to the freshening, and thought it to be very much “of a piece,” consistent with light use, storage and appropriate aging. The fresh paint certainly helped the auction presentation, and combined with the low mileage, seemed to offer an unbeatable combination.
A sale-room notice in Connecticut stated that the speedometer and odometer were inoperative and came along with a statement from the seller that the car had indeed been in long-term storage prior to his reanimation of it and that he had covered no more than 2,000 km (1,242 miles) while owning it. The bidding obviously was not held back by that disclosure — or that of an engine number which didn’t match that on the chassis plate. Potential buyers obviously considered the car itself over questions about the mileage and engine. Clearly it had not covered many kilometers, and whether it was 16,500 km or a bit more made little difference. The statement from retired Lamborghini test driver Balboni obviously was seen as a comforting factor.
The Goodwood car
The second record breaker at Goodwood was a car with a remarkably similar history to that of the one in Connecticut — but with one very important difference.
Also blue, it had a known ownership history, covered low mileage and been resprayed in the original color. The difference was that this car had never been laid up, but rather regularly driven throughout its life and maintained all the way.
This is a circumstance much preferable to a car that has been locked away unused for a decade or, heaven forbid, left to rot in the corner of a barn for two decades. Although it has become the rage to rescue “sleeping beauties,” it’s a better bet for all concerned that a wakeful existence of care and feeding had been experienced instead. Combined with being a RHD example of a car that is famous for being difficult to see out of, it’s small wonder it made a record price in the U.K.
Prices for the Countach, as noted in the SCM Platinum Auction Database from 2002 until the present, tell an interesting story. When new, the competition for dollars in showrooms was between the Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer and the Countach LP400. Back in 2002, the Testarossa sold for 21.5% more than an LP400. By 2008, the tables had turned and the $400k necessary to buy a Countach was now 39% more than the cash needed to buy a Berlinetta Boxer. Prices stayed steady in this range for a few years when another major move upward occurred in 2012. Prices at auction doubled as the market began to embrace the pure aesthetic appeal of the early Countach.
At that point many began to tie LP400 values to that of the Miura, and indeed now they have almost achieved parity with the past few transactions. There is little doubt that the LP400 is an important car, one that shook the automotive world when it first appeared in 1971 and very much set the tone for the Lamborghini brand that can still be seen today in the latest models.
Are all Countach LP400s $1m cars now? We have seen major market upshifts in other cars that usually follow a pattern in which the best examples have not been seen at public sale for a while.
One comes up for auction and makes an anomalous high sale. Often this is followed by another sale closer to, but higher than, the previous market high but lower than the record. In this case, we have seen records set back to back for very similar cars — both being low mileage and largely original but repainted. The auction sale of a totally original and preserved — not barn find! — or freshly and correctly restored example has not yet happened.
Based on history, it is likely that the sale of either of those two types of cars would fall squarely in the middle of these sales. We shall see. In any event, the market has clearly demonstrated a trend favoring the LP400, which began in 2012 and has proceeded in a linear — if accelerated — path since. Both of these sales will be considered market-right in the coming year. However, it is unlikely we will see a new record set with a doubling in prices as quickly as in these two sales. ♦
(Introductory descriptions courtesy of Bonhams.)