Words and photos courtesy of LAMBODiecast.com
We all know Lamborghini was founded back in 1963, after only a few years they made an everlasting mark in automotive history with the sensual Lamborghini Miura, and only 8 years later the futuristic Countach LP5000 was unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show as a concept prototype.
The name came from the Piedmontese dialect and means something like stupendous, magnificent, splendid. Rumour has it, Countach was the first word Bertone uttered upon seeing the concept for the first time, a design by Marcello Gandini by the way, while LP stands for Longitudinale Posteriore and the 5000 for the displacement of the new V12 engine.
The by now trademark way of opening the doors on the Countach was inspired by another concept car, the Carabo, while a roof tunnel was created for better visibility of the interior rearview mirror and while the 1974 Countach LP5000 looked like a one-off concept, Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to put her in production to replace the Miura SV.
This first Countach was a real show car, the dashboard did not have the normal analog instrumentation, but Bertone used experimental digital units, while the first edition of a check computer was installed, monitoring all the important areas of the car like the different fluids, the brakes, etc. Later when Bob Wallace was testing the LP500, he had the digital instrumentation replaced with normal ones. From the first moment on, the orders started coming in, at that time it was not even sure the car would actually be produced, but after Ferruccio saw how much people were willing to buy a Countach he decided to build it in small quantities. This first prototype, which was finished in a bright yellow, had only a short life, which was very hard. Various modifications were needed to transform the unique prototype into a production model, large air scoops were installed on top of the rear fenders to pull the air into the radiators, who were now mounted vertically.
In addition, a pair of NACA-ducts were cut into the doors and side panels, while various windshield wipers were tested, after several thousands of hard miles the car ended its life with a barrier crash test at MIRA in Britain.
THE SCALE MODEL
So how about this 1:18 scale model from Looksmart, with a rather hefty price tag for a sealed resin model, is it a must-have to add to the collection?
I would say yes, this is a must-have. This is the only 1:18 scale model of the actual Lamborghini Countach LP5000 prototype, finished in the correct yellow shade, and with the unique dashboard, central console and seats. Just as they were installed in the actual show car, even the display to the left of the steering wheel has been added by Looksmart.
So do we have a flawless model here then, well, not exactly? There is a problem with the covers over the turn signals on the front fenders, they are clear so they show the clear turn signal underneath, and that is correct on the Countach production model, but this unique prototype didn’t have clear lenses, they were frosted.
For a €250 model I would also expect to have a functional tunnel roof, or Periscopa as it is also called that inset in the roof, between the seat that should house a small glass section so you can see through that when using the interior rearview mirror Looksmart put a black, sealed grille in that spot and that is really a problem in my eyes.
Also, note those silver grilles on the engine cover are sealed on this Looksmart model, it would have been nice if these were, in fact, open and showed a glance of the unique 5 litre V12 engine that was installed in the real car. Sure it didn’t survive long and a 4-liter unit was used for road testing… but still.
But take a look at those wheels, they look so real and also note they don’t have the Raging Bull crest on the center caps. The real prototype didn’t show them either at first, and while Looksmart added Pirelli Cinturato on the tires, I haven’t seen that on the period photos, but it does look good.
Another thing Looksmart got right was that very special front bumper, with the Countach logo cut out of the material, and the fact the front hood is actually a little lower toward the windshield, it isn’t flush as seen on the production version and naturally that one of a kind slats covering the intakes behind the side windows. I absolutely love those. Sadly they couldn’t be used in real life as they didn’t cool the engine enough.
I think this is a model that just has to be part of my collection, it clearly depicts how the Lamborghini Countach was intended to look, and while there are a few ‘issues’ with the 1:18 scale model made by Looksmart, it is the one and only 1:18 scale model available.
Sure I would have liked to have opening doors to admire the interior better, even an opening engine cover so we could see that one of a kind V12 unit, but that is not an option, so I for one am very happy with this addition.
Let’s take a closer look at this Countach prototype next to some of the other Countach models in the range; like the green production prototype from Kyosho.
At the front the bumper remained similar, but underneath a pair of intakes were fitted, also the front hood was now fitted flush with the rest of the body.
On the green production prototype Lamborghini fitted a single windshield wiper (one of the test mules had two wipers), but probably the biggest change was the NACA intakes on the side, cut into the doors and rear panel, and the box-shaped air intakes for the vertical radiators. It is necessary to pull more cool air into the engine compartment.
At the rear new taillights were fitted, these would be used on all the subsequent Countach models too, and the engine cover was modified, again for improved ventilation. Note the ‘periscopa’ remained.
The development of the Lamborghini Countach continued, one of the biggest changes was the fact the 5-Liter engine wasn’t ready for production, so the customer cars would be called Countach LP400.
From the green Production Prototype onto the actual LP400 production model a few changes happened. The front bumper was modified, now with integrated lights and different vent intakes.
The very special design of the side window was also modified before the actual production, made slightly larger, but it remained a small section that could be opened, due to the curvature of the doors, a larger side window would be impossible to wind down.
Note that Kyosho did manage to put a small window in place for that typical ‘Periscopa’ rearview mirror, something Looksmart should have done on their model too, for the price of this Looksmart model, that is an error that shouldn’t have happened.
But I am really happy with the model nonetheless. I now have the Countach in actual prototype, the production prototype, the LP400, the LP500S, the Quattrovalvole and the 25th Anniversary. The series is complete!
This is a brilliant review, many thanks for taking the time to produce such a wonderfully thorough review. I have also just seen your excellent website. It demonstrates a love of diecast lamborghinis’ I have yet to see elsewhere. Kudos to you and many thanks for the insights.
Thank you for the informative review and the great photos. I was tempted by this, but in the end I decided to pass on this, due to some inaccuracies. Especially, the slats of the side vents, each should have different curvature from one another.
Excellent review : text, pictures, comparison, etc. Congrats!!
Thanks a lot Mark, for a great review with great pictures, once again!
It’s indeed unbelievable that kyosho managed to present a functional “periscopa”-tunnel roof in its LP400 for less than half the price of looksmarts LP500…
Two little remarks at the review:
– the “pirelli cinturato”-script on the weels is correct as can be seen on some period pictures. I can sent them if someone wants to, but you can find them also at the internet;
– the engine in the LP 500 prototype was not a 5 liter but a modified 3.929cc with horizontal carburettors. The 5 liter was only announced but never completed for the prototype. (lack of time…and money?) See the excellent book of Jean-Marc Borel, “Lamborghini Countach”, p. 25: “The time availiable to Lamborghini was too short, and the construction and development of the new power unit would delay the development of the project considerebly. In order to gain some time, the prototype was equipped with a 4000 cc existing engine but, the intention was to equip the production model with a 5000cc unit. This is why the prototype is wrongly named: Countach LP500. At the same time, the engineers started to develop the 5000 cc engine. At the Geneva Motor Show (1971), they published the characteristics, values and technical specifications as well as the predicted output. Howeever, as we will see, we had to wait many years before seeing the first engine of this capacity on the test bench. With reference tot the prototype, its drive train derives directly from that to the Espada (…)”
So…even with an opening engine cover…the “one of a kind 5 liter engine” wouldn’t be there… the engine was’t blown up in testdrive, it simply wasn’t completed.