Lamborghini Countach - The Raging Bull Identity
What you drive can say a lot about who you are. For instance, Tom Cruise drove a Bugatti Veyron because at the time it was the most expensive and fastest production car you can buy. As simple as that. Paris Hilton could be seen getting annoyed by the paparazzi while walking to her SLR McLaren, the perfect new-money supercar which was famous for its automatic-only transmission. And Pierce Brosnan drove an Aston Martin Vanquish because playing James Bond means he doesn’t have any other option. So what kind of person would drive a Lamborghini Countach?
For starters there’s Fausto Isidro Meza Flores otherwise known as El Chapo. He’s a famous aficionado of the agricultural arts. So well known, in fact, that he is wanted by both the DEA and the Mexican government with recognition by the Department of Treasury as the leader of the Meza Flores Drug Trafficking Organization. His work involves shipping millions of dollars worth of meth, heroin, marijuana, and cocaine across the U.S. border. All of which meant he had a sweet car collection that has since been seized. Among said collection was a Lamborghini Countach..
Now meet Jordan Belfort. Most of you already know him from the movie based on his book ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ with a portrayal by Leonardo DiCaprio. His investment company, Stratton Oakmont, was involved in (according to Bloomberg) money laundering and securities fraud which net him a $110 million fine for restitutions. But before the feds could bring the hammer down don’t forget the time when Belfort, high on quaaludes, injured himself attempting to crawl to his Lamborghini Countach sitting under a porte-cochère of the Brookville Country Club.
So what is it about the Countach that makes it so attractive as a Miami narcotics trophy? The way it looks might give some credence to that answer. Marcello Gandini, the man who founded Bertone and designed the car was following a hot streak of success after the creation of the Lamborghini Miura and Lancia Stratos. For Lamborghini’s second flagship Marcello took the styling to eleven before knocking it out of the park.
And if you grew up in the eighties you’ll know there’s no mistaking this profile. The first series of Countach both defined the decade and operated as a perfect fit for a bedroom wall poster right next to Heather Thomas in a bikini. Its severe front rake, massive air scoops, and square rounded fender arches bring in a mix of straight angles and curves to form an alluring wedge modeling as every young car lover’s dream.
Contesting its splendid good looks is its speed and sound. Sprinting to 60 mph takes a little bit over 5 seconds. Propelling the Italian spaceship is a 4.0-liter V12 packing six dual barrel carburetors generating 375 hp revving to 8,000 rpm. Under its illustrious epidermis is SLA suspension, coil springs, anti-roll bars, and disc brakes. Four years after its initial release in 1974 Lamborghini brought out the S Series line of Countach models relaying improvements to its suspension setup, aerodynamics, and a new set of the widest tires ever fitted to a production car at 345mm.
The only problem was you had to be high on your own supply to tolerate the driving experience. While it was cool that the doors went up the door sill was almost as wide and tall as the transmission tunnel meaning there was no dignified way to get in or out. The clutch would wear your leg out in ten traffic stops unless you didn’t skip leg day, and rowing through the gears required Hulk-strength effort. If the stiff suspension didn’t beat you up, the noise levels and hot cabin temperatures will. Car and Driver says they recorded cruising sound at 83 dBA. Also, you can’t open the windows except for the bottom portion. Definitely not drive-thru friendly.
If you drove this car hoping to see the looks on everyone’s faces as you pass by - you can’t. The window bars and pillars are in the way. Your blind spot encompasses almost everything that isn’t the front windscreen and your rear view mirror is as useful as someone giving a description of what’s going on behind you. This also meant you had to lean out the car with the door open to perform a parallel park.
But if you’re driving a Countach you already know onlookers have their jaws on the floor. Seeing one in person is a special occassion. Not only are they expensive they’re exceedingly rare. This black Series 1 for example is one of 50 ever made. In its sixteen year production run Lamborghini only built 2,049 Countaches, an average of 128 per year. Lamborghini can only hand build so many aluminum bodied supercars at this level of quality. Exporting them to the States necessitates switching out the air filter, catalysts, and carburetor for a fuel injection system.
Ownership is just as much a pain in the ass as it is to build. Lamborghini forum users cite $8,000 clutch jobs, major services with an annual average cost of $4,000 and a transmission rebuild every twenty to thirty thousand miles. This doesn’t include the thousands it costs to fix temperamental electrical issues that can occur and the flat bed you need to haul it to the shop.
How it performs around the bends becomes almost irrelevant when all of its other foibles overwhelm the driving experience. Its handling is good, not great - and there’s understeer all over the place. You have to make the choice between high speed stability with the spoiler or a higher top speed without one. Either way the Countach doesn’t have much in the way of functional aerodynamics and corner eating agility. Racing pedigree was never Lamborghini’s forte.
If its long list of issues doesn’t sully your perception of the Countach then maybe this is the car for you. Its iconic design put Lamborghini into a rare part of the supercar world where designs can be as wild as possible, free from the clutches of elegance and subtlety. It’s just a car for people who want to have a laugh at great expense to themselves and their wallet. A car for people with good taste that make bad decisions.
Photos provided by Nathan Leach-Proffer ©2016 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's