Garda Lake

Summer night’s madness 1988 Lamborghini Countach 5000QV

Chances are good if you asked most people around the world what a supercar is, the Lamborghini Countach would be the car that comes to mind. From its sharp angles and straight lines to the brand’s first implementation of scissor doors, the Countach was an aesthetic sensation and set the bar for all future supercar designs. First shown at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show as the LP500, the angular, low-slung design was like nothing else on the road, and in 1973, Lamborghini put it into production to replace the Miura. Built until 1990, the Countach went through numerous changes over the years, starting with the svelte, unadorned LP400 “Periscopio” and slowly sprouting wider fenders, bigger wings, enormous tires, and more powerful engines, culminating in the polarizing Anniversary Countach of 1989. Every bodystyle has its fans but if you asked most people to pick a favorite, it’s the LP5000 Quattrovalvole. Not only is it the most recognizable with its 5-hole wheels, fender flares, and side skirts, but it is also the fastest Countach ever produced. And tonight that is what we get to drive. 

We only have a few hours to enjoy this masterpiece from Sant’Agata Bolognese and with the heat of mid-summer beating down, we elect to drive it at night. Even with the sun below the horizon, the heat coming off the tarmac is significant- but not nearly as significant as the heat in the cabin of the Countach. The window openings are slivers, just large enough to throw your toll or dangle your cigarette as you drive. The air conditioning that’s supposed to make up for the lack of windows provides a gentle breeze that can’t hope to make any difference with the coolant pipes running under the cabin, a gearbox under your right arm, and a 5.2 liter V12 just behind your head. But when you are handed keys to a Countach, all of these things are ignored, and your singular focus is the drive ahead of you. 

This 1988 LP5000 Quattrovalvole is finished in the ultimate 1980s color scheme of white over white and is not equipped with the notorious rear wing, making it look even lower and sleeker. Unfortunately, for these photos, we don’t have time to take the Countach up to our favorite mountain passes, but using the industrial district of a sleepy city provides an exciting backdrop for this nighttime shoot. 

Sliding down through the scissor door and into the narrow bucket seat, the view out the front of the car is expansive. People complain about Countach’s visibility, but if all you want to do is go forward, the view is one of the best out there. Turn the key, and the V12 fires quickly and settles into a high idle that sounds exciting and very complex, combining mechanical whirring and the guttural bellow of 6 downdraft Weber carburetors when the throttle is depressed. This car is fitted with an Ansa sport exhaust system that is significantly louder than stock and sounds incredible, bouncing off the closed businesses around the industrial district. Even with 5.2 liters of displacement, the Countach’s V12 wants to rev and will happily spin to redline in gear after gear thanks to adding 4-valve heads in the Quattrovalvole. 

Many drivers disparage the Countach and talk about it as a car that looks great but isn’t good at much else. After a night behind the wheel, it’s hard to see what they are talking about- of course,` it won’t out-handle a new GT3 or Huracan, and yes, the inputs require some effort to get the most out of the car but isn’t that what people should seek out in a supercar? The Countach is a car that looks like nothing else on the road, sounds like rolling thunder, and makes you feel like you ran a marathon after a few hours behind the wheel, but when the time comes, you just don’t want to give the keys back. That being said, on a night like tonight, some air conditioning would be nice.

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