Lamborghini Celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Lamborghini Countach LP 500.
March 11, 2021, marks 50 years since the showstopping yellow Lamborghini Countach LP 500 made its debut at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show. The exact time was 10 am that the prototype was unveiled within the Carrozzeria Bertone exhibition space at the show, not Lamborghini’s exhibition space.
The decision to launch the Countach LP 500 in Carrozzeria Bertone space was influenced by the fact that the Lamborghini’s stand displayed the House of the Raging Bull’s latest arrival: the Miura SV, which was perfected after being in production now for five years. With the dual display, Lamborghini showed their capability in both production and innovation.
The launch was so successful that Lamborghini raced against time to transform the futuristic show car into a production car to fulfill customers’ requests.
The Countach project had an internal code number LP112, where the LP signified “Longitudinale Posteriore” (Italian for the rear longitudinal position) of the 12-cylinder engine. Ferruccio Lamborghini maintained the engine’s position in a desire to preserve the image of the company as the vanguard of technology and style following the Miura.
Leading the record-breaking achievement was engineer Paolo Stanzani who had been with the company since 1963. In 1968 Stanzani became the General Manager and Technical Director and was mainly accountable for the Countach’s mechanical component.
Carrozzeria Bertone’s Design Director Marcello Gandini styled the beautiful, futuristic, and clean lines of the Countach, which is still appreciated after 50 years. Gandini elected to use scissor doors, which have since distinguished the 12-cylinder models of Lamborghini.
The LP 500 was a very different car than the Countach that would go into production in 1974. Lamborghini gave it a platform frame instead of a tubular one, and it had a 12-cylinder 4971cc engine which was one of a kind. The engine air intakes were given a shark gill design and had sophisticated electronic instrumentation on the inside.
The origin of the Countach name can be found within the dialect of the Piedmont region. Upon its final stages of assembly, Lamborghini decided to hide the car in a agricultural machinery shed on a farm close to Grugliasco (province of Turin) to fend off the possibility of work stopping because of labor unrest.
When a farmer “discovered” the vehicle, he exclaimed “Countach!” in his excitement and amazement. It was a word that expressed wonderment in the Piedmontese dialect. When Marcello Gandini, who himself was from Piedmont, learned of the fact, he felt that the word had a strong communicative force and convinced Ferruccio Lamborghini, Nuccio Bertone, and Paolo Stanzani of this.
After the successful launch of the LP 500 at the Geneva Motor Show, Bob Wallace, Lamborghini’s chief test driver, used the car, which had a more reliable 4-liter engine, for all kinds of road tests. At the beginning of 1974, the car was then used for crash tests required for the homologation of the production car, and thereafter the LP 500 was eventually scrapped.
From 1974-1990, a total of 1,999 Countach’s were built in 5 different series. It was a model that influenced an entire generation while providing Lamborghini the ability to survive the most difficult years of the company’s history and enter permanently into the halls of legend.