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1979 Lamborghini Countach LP400 S Series I by Bertone

RM | Sotheby's - ABU DHABI 30 NOVEMBER 2019


Chassis No.
1121078
  • Upgraded with Miura-style 40 IDL Weber downdraught carburettors
  • Repainted in its original colours and retains its original engine
  • Recently serviced in addition to previous work done by Lamborghini specialist Rene Ruch

Whereas recent Lamborghinis have been named after bulls or bullfighting, the word Countach has its origins as a phrase used by Piedmontese men to describe the moment of laying eyes on a beautiful woman. No wonder, then, that Lamborghini chose it for its groundbreaking supercar when it launched the Lamborghini Countach LP400 in 1974.

Few cars have caused such a stir in the automotive world, and the man responsible for the outrageous design was a then relatively inexperienced Marcello Gandini of Bertone. Unconstrained by trivial matters like user friendliness or ergonomics, Gandini let his imagination run wild for the Countach, and the result was one of the most striking cars of the 20th century. Impossibly low, wide, and angular, it was poles apart from anything that had come before, and it changed the design ethos for nearly every supercar that followed, especially those from Lamborghini. The mid-mounted V-12 engine, forward-located cabins, and scissor door arrangement of the Diablo, Murciélago, and Aventador can all trace their origins to Gandini’s Countach.

Perhaps the most significant innovation was the arrangement of the powertrain; where the Miura had already pioneered a mid-engined V-12 layout, the Countach engineering team, led by Paolo Stanzani, chose to take the concept one step further and installed the engine longitudinally. What’s more, they also managed to mid-mount the transmission by moving the output shaft to the front of the engine rather than the rear. Drive was then channelled via a propshaft that ran through the engine’s oil sump to a rear differential and through to the rear wheels. This format not only increased stability by keeping mass in the centre of the car, but also allowed the gear linkage to be shortened, thus improving its action, whilst also permitting far easier access to engine ancillaries for servicing and maintenance.

This 1979 Countach is a Series I LP400S, and it is noteworthy for its optional V-shaped rear wing and its engine upgrades. Lamborghini had experienced reliability issues with early Countach prototypes, and the original intention to launch the car with a 5.0-litre version of the V-12 was scrapped in favour of using the same 3.9-litre V-12 as used in the Miura. However, due to the packaging requirements of the engine bay, the downdraught Webers were changed for side-draft Weber 45 DCOE carburettors, and peak power output was slightly lower than that of a Miura SV as a result. This obviously mattered to Heinz Steber, a former owner of this particular car in the 1980s who also owned a Miura, as he chose to have the engine fettled by a specialist in Luxembourg to have the same downdraught 40 IDL Webers as used in the Miura. The car retains this unique configuration today.

It has spent the majority of its life in Germany and Switzerland before being purchased by its current owner in 2014, when it had just had a new clutch fitted and had its engine thoroughly overhauled by Lamborghini specialist Rene Ruch. Soon after the sale, the car was sent to KP Performance in Bahrain, where it was given a full respray in original colours. It has been lightly used since but always looked after, and it benefits most recently from having a comprehensive service, during which the fuel lines were replaced and carburettors tuned. It presents very well indeed, its paintwork blemish-free, and its original navy blue interior is a testament to a life of care and attention. Just 50 Series I LP400s were produced, and few are likely to be as tidy as this example, or have such an interesting history.



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