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.

1981 Lamborghini Countach LP400 S doors open

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.

Poor aerodynamics

The Lamborghini Countach

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

The Lamborghini Countach

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

The Lamborghini Countach

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.

The Lamborghini Countach

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

The Lamborghini Countach

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 Lamborghini Countach

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.

The Lamborghini Countach

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.

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2 Responses

  1. John Mowbray

    All of the points about poor visibility from the rear (the fact that actually reversing a Countach means you are essentially out of the car). The heat from the engine and the smell of fuel is what still makes this the greatest supercar of all time. Driving through a jammed town center in the middle of summer and seeing people rush out of shops to take photos doesn’t happen with today’s cars.

  2. Peter Hayward

    I only ever drove one of these which one more than most people have. I worked in car rental in the West End of London. Not a good place to drive one. It was still an amazing car to drive though. Everybody looks at you. If you stopped anywhere schoolchildren tourists wanted to have their photo taken by it. Always with the doors up! this was in the late eighties. This was one of many exotic cars I drove in my 28 years in the car trade. Mechanic and MOT tester.


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