Exotic automakers don’t replace their models quite as frequently as more mass-market brands. Lamborghini especially. The Diablo was in production for the better part of 12 years. The Gallardo for 11. But the Italian automaker never produced anything for as long as it did the Countach.
Only the second in Lamborghini’s line of mid-engined V12 supercars – a segment it had pioneered with the preceding Miura – the Countach may be the ultimate icon of 1980s style. But it actually entered production in the first half of the 1970s, and remained so until the Diablo replaced it in 1990.
Over that 17-year production run, the model evolved considerably from Marcello Gandini’s original angular (but clean) design to the highly festooned version of that followed in the late 1980s. And few occasions could illustrate that quite as clearly as RM Sotheby’s upcoming auction on Lake Como in northern Italy.
Pictured (by Tim Scott) in yellow is an early 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 – a rare “Periscopio” model, so named for its periscope-like rearview mirror. Only 150 of these early versions were made, of which this was the 31st. It was delivered new in this striking combination of yellow over tobacco leather to a Saudi prince, but was eventually repatriated in the 1980s to Italy where it was restored and upgraded.
The Periscopio looks downright uncluttered in comparison to this later example (captured by Dirk de Jager). This ’87 5000 QV packs an upgraded engine, bored out from 4.0 liters to 5.2 and fitted with four-valve cylinder heads. Of the 610 examples of this model that were made, only two were blinged out like this one. In a blinding display of Eighties opulence, it’s decked out in white bodywork and matching white interior with gilded steering column, shifter, instrument cluster, trunk and engine handles, door sills, exterior badging, and exhaust tips.
Originally delivered to the United States, it has spend time in Japan before its current owner in the Netherlands bought it and subsequently had it restored and certified by Lamborghini PoloStorico – the first vintage Raging Bull submitted to the factory’s historic division. In the evolution of the breed, only the 25th anniversary edition – redesigned by Horacio Pagani with even more strakes and vents – took the design further.
Both are consigned to the same auction and are sure to fetch a pretty penny or two. The question on our mind, though, is which better represents the Countach we remember. For our part, it’s posters of the white QV that we remember pinning to our childhood bedroom walls, but the Periscopio that has arguably aged better. What do you think?