When people think of Lamborghini, they think of the Countach. Yes, the Miura was prettier and launched the supercar segment, and today’s cars are faster and far easier to live with, but it’s the Countach that made Lamborghini what it is. Its legacy is what allows the brand to operate from safely under the Volkswagen Auto Group umbrella, share parts with Audi, and expand into the SUV market while still pushing the image that its cars are a flying middle finger to speed limits, good taste, and discretion. Ferrari may have been at its most iconic in the ’50s and ’60s, but Lambo peaked ideologically in the fast-living, sleazy ’70s and all-for-me ’80s. The Countach is a car of excess and impulse, one that always has and always will appeal to people on a primal level, even if they can rattle off its laundry list of flaws from memory. Simply put, the Countach is one complicated car.
It’s important to remember that the Lamborghini of the early 1970s is far different than the company today. Its sales had begun to dwindle thanks to rising gas and insurance prices, and it was hit especially hard by the labor unrest that had swept Italy. As a result, company founder Ferruccio Lamborghini would step down in 1974, and it would go bankrupt in 1978. To say things were touch and go is an understatement. On paper this was a strike against the Countach’s build quality, but in the car’s narrative, it makes it all the more extraordinary.
Ferruccio Lamborghini envisioned his company as a builder of world-class grand tourers, but as soon as the Miura was released in 1966, it became apparent that customers expected something different from the company. When it was launched, the Miura’s sinewy, Marcello Gandini-penned body and mid-mounted V12 made it unlike anything else on the roads. But by the end of the decade, competitors like Ferrari and De Tomaso had caught up, and the Miura was beginning to show its age. Lamborghini returned to Gandini to design a follow-up, and what he came up with was unlike anything the world had ever seen.