They say never meet your heroes for a reason.
The Countach is one of the most iconic supercars in existence, yet a lot of those who have driven one have hated it. Is the legendary Countach a hero that you best not meet?
How could you not love the Countach? It’s the definition of 80s supercar and has made a lasting impression as the poster car of that period. The Countach was also the first Lamborghini to have scissor doors which are now synonymous with the brand.
The design was like no other car, making it like a UFO among horse carriages. The Countach represented a massive leap in supercar design and even though the Miura is held in high regard, without the Countach, Lamborghini may not have been what it is today. Not only did it save the company from financial ruin but also permanently put the Lamborghini brand into pop culture.
On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence to support that the Lamborghini Countach was a far cry from a good supercar once you dismiss the way it looked.
The Countach was never tested in a wind tunnel due to a restrictive budget. All the curves, angles and corners of the car are basically guess-work when it comes to aerodynamic optimisation. Essentially, engineers looked at the sharp design they had created and basically said ‘yeah…that looks really aerodynamic’ and called it a day.
The drag coefficient of the car is 0.42 which is about as aerodynamic as a shed. In fact, the drag coefficient of a Ford Transit van is 0.37.
The way the engineers tested the aerodynamics of the Countach was by glueing pieces of fabric to the car and then photographing it whilst it was being driven at high speed on a freeway. Yes, seriously.
The wing was worse than pointless
Tying in nicely with the previous point, the rear wing of Countach may look incredibly cool but was actually detrimental to performance. Due to there being virtually no aerodynamic testing, the rear wing ended up lifting the front end of the car and therefore having a detrimental effect on the handling.
Horrible to drive
Anyone driving a Countach will certainly look cool doing it but what you don’t see from the outside is the discomfort the driver is in. Now there may be 9 variations of Countach but none of them would be described as refined or elegant. They were clunky and robust machines which is a bad thing just as much as it is a good thing.
The LP400, the first and purist model of Countach, had the best visibility and after that it was all downhill. Add a rear spoiler and some repositioned carburettors and boom, there goes your rear visibility.
Wafts of petrol and other engine smells were sent into the cabin of the car and the interior seems to have been designed to induce claustrophobia. Steering is heavy but not as heavy as the clutch and the engine apparently vents all its heat into the back of the driver but other than all of this, it sounds like a great car to drive!
The top speed was a lie
During this period, Lamborghini were hellbent on beating Ferrari in any way they could. The Countach LP5000S Quattrovalvole was claimed to have a top speed of over 200mph but in reality, no production model could reach that speed.
Countach models used for top speed testing were often modified with better tyres, removed mirrors, hollowed-out suspension joints and even improved intake systems to improve the engine’s power, according to Valentino Balboni, Lamborghini’s longtime test driver.
Not a car for purists
The first Countach, the LP400, was when the legendary poster car was in its purest form. It shares the beautiful kind of simplicity and smoothness that the Miura had.
After came the LP400S, then the LP500S and then the beefy 5000QV. Each of these iterations seemed to add more and more onto the car. By the end, the Countach transformed from a sleek supercar that was both rounded and angular, to a RICE enthusiasts dream.
Fenders flared, vents added, huge (non-functional) spoiler stuck on and the front bumper was made more sporty – what’s left is an overstyled car that’s more concerned with how it appeals to the children and teenagers that have the posters on their walls then how it appeals to more mature enthusiasts.
It’s like the current Honda Civic Type R. Some will love the overstyled look, others won’t.
Let us know what you think of the Countach. Is it best only remembered as the most iconic poster car ever made, or does it deserve more credit for being a good supercar all-round?
Read our opinion on some of the best smiling cars ever made, here.
For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.