From 1974 through 1990 the Italian automaker Lamborghini produced the mid-engine supercar called the Lamborghini Countach. The design of this vehicle was the pioneer for the popular sharp angled, wedge shaped look that is found in many high performing sports cars of today. Another concept that was made popular by the Countach is the design concept of having the cabin pushed forward so that a larger engine can be accommodated.
In the year 2004, the Lamborghini Countach was named as the third most popular sports car from the 1970s by Sports Car International, which is an American car magazine. It was on number 10 for the top sports cars from the 1980s.
The first prototype of the vehicle was shown to the world at the Geneva Motor Show in the year 1971.
The Countach styling was done by Marcello Gandini who was from the Bertone design studio. He was the quite young and inexperienced when he designed the vehicle. This meant that he was not experienced in ergonomical and practical aspects of car design. However, being inexperienced was somewhat beneficial as it led to him being unhindered by these things and resulted in him creating a most striking design. The shape of the Countach was low and wide and not long. The wedge shaped body with its angles was created using flat, trapezoid panels.
One of the trademarks of the Lamborghini vehicle is the doors, which are scissor doors. This concept was first started on the Countach. The doors have hinges at the front that are horizontal so that they have to be lifted up and then tilted forward. The reason that the doors are shaped this way is because the car has a tubular space frame chassis that creates door sills that are high and wide. The other reason was simply for style and because how wide the car is made it impossible to use conventional doors. When opening the doors, you have to be careful because of the low roof.
The prototype of the vehicle was designed for pure style. This design was altered greatly during the evolution of the vehicle in order to improve the performance, tractability, handling, and to meet the mandated requirements. There were several vents added to the production model as they were found to be needed in order to cool off the engine. The design changes ended up putting a large engine vent that was located right behind the driver, which reduced the view from the rear. Some of the later additions to the vehicle included spoilers, fender flares, bumpers, carburetor covers, which changed the aesthetic value of the car greatly.
There was only one prototype of the Countach model. It was the LP 500. The 500 was indicative of the 5.0 liter engine. The prototype was painted a bright yellow and stunned in 1971 at the Geneva Motor Show. It sported the original design concepts from Gandini and in order to product it, the design needed extensive modifications.
From about 1985 through the late part of the 1990s there were several companies that tried to replicate the Countach. These companies had varying degrees of success.
In the year 1985, Pete Jackson and Gary Thompson rented the Countach from a car rental company and used it to make a glass fiber mold. This mold was used by several manufacturers in the United Kingdom producing replicas of the Countach. Some of these companies produced very good replicas of the sports cars.