Lamborghini Countach: Everything you Need to Know | Up to Speed
- Before I go any further, just go ahead and hit that like button. (fist punching) My life is defined by numbers and the more numbers I get, the better I feel. (drum roll intro) (car zooms) It's the V12 Vixa that vexed Ferrari for almost two decades. They said normal doors, no way, let's make them go straight up. It's the most famous supercar the world has ever seen. So, put on your '80s Ray-Bans and get ready for a top speed run down the '80s nostalgia highway.
This is everything you need to know to get up to speed on the Lamborghini Tome Tower Show. (video game music) - Thanks to Factor for sponsoring today's video. When you work in a garage, you also work up an appetite, but unlike the project car, I don't have the fuel to figure out what to eat. Luckily, there's Factor. Factor makes meeting your nutrition goals easier than ever by delivering fresh, never frozen, dietician-approved meals, right to your doorstep.
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(logo theme music) (logo beeps) - Lamborghini and Ferrari are like oil and water, locked in eternal competition. And the history of the Countach is the history of Lamborghini bust and butt to beat Ferrari in the face of constant financial struggles. They weren't good at being a company.
Sorry, we got an underdog story here, ladies and gents, a super car underdog story. And it all started in the early 1960s. Ferruccio Lamborghini made a fortune selling tractor. So he bought a few V12 Ferraris to celebrate. He loved his finals, but the clutches went out constantly. Now, Ferruccio new machines, like I said, he was a tractor man.
The clutch was too small to handle the V12 Torque. Ferruccio side-eyed an entire room full of tractors' clutches scratching his head and thought, "Eh, why not?" That's right, the dude put a tractor clutch in a Ferrari. Best part, it worked. But, nice guy that he was, Ferruccio assumed that Enzo Ferrari would appreciate some friendly mechanical advice, you know, from one machine man to another. Boy, was he wrong? Enzo snubbed him multiple times.
When they finally met, Enzo said something that would change the world of sports cars forever. He said, "Let a me make-a the cars. You stick to building the tractors." (Ferruccio growls) At that moment, Ferruccio vowed to build a better car than Ferrari. The best high-speed road car the world had ever seen.
The crazy thing is he did it. And then he kept doing it. Super cars literally were not a thing until Lamborghini released the Miura in 1967.
It was the first, and pretty much every supercar of the 20th century copied its formula, all right. Mid engine, rear wheel drive, honkin' V12. (car hoots) This car was unparalleled in its beauty.
A lot of people say it's the best looking car ever built. It's got fricking eyelashes on it. It was good for 171 miles per which made it the fastest production car in the fricking, ancient world. The Miura was an amazing car but it had given Lamborghini a bit of a reputation for killing its customers which is not a reputation you wanna have if you make anything, maybe poison. Early-made engine cars are notorious for spinning with little warning. And this very first car was no exception.
Lamborghini saw this problem as an opportunity to develop a new car that was better than the Miura in every way. Lamborghini's head engineer, a guy named Paolo Stanzani, narrow the issue down to weight distribution. the Miura's drive train was mounted transversely like this, which put most of the weight on the back of the car.
He figured if he mounted the engine longitudinally like this, and put the transmission between the seats like this, the weight balance would improve, and make for a much less homicidal supercar. Now, Ferruccio he liked the sound of a less homicidal supercar and the Miura placement project was a go. Meanwhile, the guy who designed the Miura's sexy body was dropping bonkers concept cars on the auto show circuit. His name was Marcello Gandini.
He was the chief designer at your favorite Italian design house, and mine, Bertone. Maybe Gandini would like to design a bonkers production car. Yes, he would very much so. He was so into the idea that one of his spaceship cars might go into production that he moved in with Stanzani, so they could design and engineer the car together. Can you imagine what that was like in that house? Just summer nights, drinking wine out those little juice cups, eating melon and prosciutto, talking about Supercars and spaceships. It's the dream, really.
Now, this was the result of all of those nights. The Lamborghi' machine LP112. That's more like the name of a calculator than a space car. And thankfully, the LP112's startling looks, inspired something better. (light bulb buzzes)
When Bertone unveiled the LP112 prototype to Ferruccio Lamborghini in early 1971, somebody in the room shouted "Countach," which is a swear word and an old Italian dialect that roughly translates to holy (beep). Ferruccio liked how Lamborghini Countach sounded, so they ran with it. Holy (beep), this is the Lamborghini, holy (beep). It's a perfect name for the car. 'Cause when they debuted the Geneva Motor Show later that year, the whole world was like, holy (beep), did aliens do this? Was it the grays or the reptilians? Look how the doors open. This cannot be a real car, but it was a real car.
It had an engine in everything. The newly renamed Countach LP500, had a 4.9 liter, 440 horsepower V12, a five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel disc brakes, and pretty much all the other stuff that makes a real car a real car. Lamborghini couldn't afford to build a prototype just for the show. They were on the cusp of bankruptcy at this point. Again, not good businessmen.
So, the LP 500 hit the Italian roads for three years of brutal research and development, right after the Geneva Motor Show. Then, it met a bloody end with a crash testing barrier to satisfy the allegation rules for the production car. So, the car that debuted at Geneva was also used in the crash test. But sadly, Ferruccio Lamborghini sold his dream car company to a rich friend in 1972. Lamborghini has changed hands a million times. We made a video about it.
It's one of my favorites, check it out. I'll put the link down there. It's sad that he had to sell it but the transaction gave the company the money that they needed to release their new supercar in 1974. The Countach LP400, look at this thing. It's knocked every other so-called supercar of the '70s off the fricking map. It's like you see this map? This is my fricking map.
And you guys need to get off of it, or I'm gonna knock you off of it! Then, they did. It was a crazy mix of cutting edge technology futuristic design, and old world craftsmanship. The car's tubular steel chassis was welded together by hand and weighed less than 200 pounds. Each aluminum panel was pounded into shape by men with hammers and patience. And its breathtaking 8,000 RPM, 3.9 litter V12, was built by one guy from start to finish.
All of this was good for a top speed of a record breaking 179 miles per. Now, meanwhile, over in Marinello, Ferrari dropped their first mid-engine road car with a precinct horse badge, The 365 GT4 BB. BB for Berlinetta Boxer, baby, boxer, because it had a 380 horsepower, 4.4 liter flat 12 boxer engine, which is weird and cool. I'm assuming it sounds like three Subarus. The Ferrari performance figures were almost identical to the Lamborghi' machine. But the Lamborghi' machine hit all those metrics while looking like this.
- [Man] Oh, yeah. - Put the two cars side by side, and the 365 is the obvious NPC. Three years into its production, nobody has been able to take the Countach's top speed crown, nor match its visual voodoo. That doesn't mean that they were just chilling in the jacuzzi, drinking wine out of those little cups. No, not all the time, just some time.
But sometimes, they were also working on improving the Countach to defend the crown. So, when Pirelli dropped some revolutionary low profile performance tires in 1975, Lamborghini reworked the car to make them fit. They had to tweak the suspension a bit, more importantly, they added these sick fender flares to fit the wide boy revers. This changed the Countach's presence big time. It wasn't just a spaceship car anymore.
It was an extremely aggressive spaceship car. Now, all this work came at their quest of a Canadian Formula One team owner with a sick name, Walter Wolf. (wolf howls) He loved the wide tires. He loved the flares, but he thought the car was missing something very important. A big old honking spoiler.
Lambo engineers told him that the car already made great down force in the back and that adding a wing would only slow it down. But he just looked at them stone-faced like a fricking Wolf. He said, "Do it." And they were like, "You give us money?" And he was like, "Oh yeah, I'll give you a lot of money. I owned an F1 team."
So, Mr. Wolf took his big wing Countach with him to nearly every F1 race in the world in 1976. People saw it and they were like, "Holy crap," which I will remind you is the name of the car. And in 1978, the second generation Countach, the LP400 S, debuted with wider tires, beefy fender flares, and an optional wing that did nothing but drop the car's top speed by 15 miles per hour. Also, looks pretty good. The 400 S even got more attention than the OG Countach.
This thing lit the motoring world's little, little, little pants on fire. A car guy in New York read about it, his pants, it caught on fire. And he had one imported for an illicit purpose.
He was gonna use it to win an illegal street race cross America. Little race called Cannonball Run. To make a long story short, some car journalists were pissed at the incredibly so 55 mile per hour at national speed limits and acted in 1974. And they wanted to prove that a good driver in a good car could use America's interstates just like the Autobahn.
So, they drove from New York city to LA, nonstop, in record setting time and wrote about their success. Then, people started showing up in modified cars to challenge them each year. And the Cannonball Run became an annual underground race. We did a whole podcast about it.
Do you know we have a podcast? If you didn't, we do. Check it out, wherever you listen to podcasts. It's called Past Gas. It's the second most popular automotive podcast in the world, apparently. And the seventh, most popular leisure podcast. (chuckles)
I'm coming for you Dupe, quit! Eventually, Hollywood found out about the Cannonball Run and they made it into a downright zany car chase movie. It came out in 1981, just like my sister. And this was the first thing on the screen. A 1978 Lamborghini Countach, or this moment right here when the door opens up, not out. When a Spandex lady spray paints the speed limit sign, America was like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, put that car on a (beep) poster!" You act like America had never seen a car that looked like this before, remember? This was before the internet.
Back then, if it wasn't in a downright zany car chase movie, it didn't exist. This scene with Spandex lady and the spray paint, yeah! This scene made the Lamborghini Countach a pop culture phenomenon. Within a year, every kid in America picked up a Countach poster at this classic book fair, but also, got goosebumps books.
The Lamborghini Countach was so popular, it basically became a meme. It was everywhere. Here's one in Rocky. Here's one in Walker Texas Ranger.
Here is a fake one in It's Always Sunny. But look, here's another one in fricking Arthur. And here is one, of course, in the Wolf of Wall Street.
That's a real Countach, by the way. Now, the studio could have saved a bunch of money by destroying one of the many thousands of Countach replicas out there. But little Marty Scorsese said, "No, let's destroy the real one." At this point in the timeline, the Countach had set the whole world's pants on fire. Made Lamborghini a household name to the point that non-car people called every wedge-shaped car, a Lamborghini.
And thanks to Lamborghini, wedge-shaped cars were everywhere in the '80s. Now, all right, I want you to imagine that you're Enzo Ferrari, okay. Walking around, I don't know, say Chicago, okay. Drinking a little wine out one of those little cups, eating prosciutto and some melon. And somebody pulls up in a bright-red Ferrari 512BBI. It's your fastest, most refined road car yet.
All right, you're stoked on it. Now, you watch as a crowd gathers around it and you can't help but smile. - That's a mine. - Then you hear some knucklehead from Chicago, say, "Woo, that's a nice Lamborghini." There aren't any sunglasses big enough in the world to hide those tears.
You turn to walk away, then some kid says, "Nah, that's a Ferrari, it's not as fast." And then boom, you crap your pants. (break winds) You're so freaking sad. You just evacuate all that melon and prosciutto. It freezes before it even hits the ground.
Then you slip in it and you get stuck to the ground. Pretty embarrassing, right? Well, that actually happened in 1984. Something had to be done. (sniffles) And that something, was the 1984 Ferrari Testarossa. Now, as far as pop culture icons are concerned, this mother effer is the only car that could maybe compete with a Countach.
They're sick looking. I'm thinking about getting a tattoo of one. Testarossas were everywhere, okay. Here's one in Rocky. Here's one in Miami Vice. Was it fast? Yeah, it was fast! Have 4.9 liter fuel injected flat 12
that made 390 horsepower. It can hit zero to 60 in five second flat, Jack! It topped out at 181 miles per hour. That's a pound job cover. 181, what does it mean? Following the money. Is that faster than a Countach? No, it wasn't faster than a Countach, it was the same! Lambo dropped the beefed-up third evolution of their hero car when Ferrari was still working on the Testarossa. The 1982 LP500 estimate 15 hears pers less than the Ferrari but it matched it zero to 60 end-top speed.
Now, I have to point out that the Countach was like 10 years old when the Testarossa dropped. (car booms) A car that was new in every way. The Countach really was ahead of its time. But in many ways, the Testarossa was just a better car. I mean, I'm not thinking about getting a Countach tattoo dude on my arm, am I? For one, this thing is a lot more aerodynamic.
As slippery as the Countach looks, and now, we gotta admit, that boy looks pretty slippery. It's not very slippery, barely slippery at all. A Chevy Astro Van, isn't very slippery but it's more aerodynamic than a Countach.
Google it, all right, Google it. Go to Google type in, is the Astro Van more aerodynamic than a Countach, the Enter. What does it say? Click on the link? No, that's an ad! (deeply sighs) What's it say? See, now, sadly Lamborghini knew the Countach aerodynamics weren't great, but since they were almost constantly on the verge of going out of business, they just couldn't afford to fix it.
By the late '80s, Lamborghi' machine had taken the Countach as far as they could without a full redesign. The last big performance bump came with the 85 Countach LP500 Quattrovalvole, and it was a big bump. Herst pers went from 375 to 455, zero to 60 drop to 4.2 seconds. And the top speed was 183. The fastest production car crown was still firmly in place which is amazing.
Somehow, this rag-tag crew of tractor men and enthusiasts had managed to keep their hand-built supercar at the top of the automotive pyramid for more than a decade. When you consider how strapped for cash they were, you start to realize just how amazing that really is. Financial stability finally came when Chrysler bought Lamborghini in 1987.
The bull boys wisely, decided to use that money to develop a replacement for the Countach. It must have been an emotional decision to make. The Countach had become the heart and soul of Lamborghini. I mean to a lot of people, it still is.
But it was almost the '90s styles. (chuckles) They were changing, baby. Aerodynamic engineering was on the rise and Porsche had snatched the fastest production car record with their monster 959.
It was time to take the Countach out into a field, (gun blasts) shoot it in the (beep) head. On July 4th, 1990, a metallic silver Countach rolled off the production line, passed a sign that said, "Gratzi Countach," which roughly translate, "Thanks, holy (beep)." This was the last Countach ever made.
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