At the Paris auction organized by RM Sotheby’s on February 13th, a rather interesting 1977 Lamborghini Countach sold for € 775,625 ( or US$ 938,658), being an early LP400 with the exotic ‘Periscope’ rearview mirror, this is a price in line with earlier auction results for this model … but this specific Countach comes with a different story, this one was once owned by Rod Stewart, and she didn’t always look like this red on tan coupe.
We are looking a chassis nr 1120262, a car that left the factory gates in Sant’Agata in May 1977 as a RHD model, 375 hp from that amazing V12 engine just inches behind the driver’s head, this Rosso over Tobacco Countach LP400 Periscopio was one of only 157 built, and it was shipped to Australia.
The famous British singer, songwriter Rod Stewart was actually on a tour in Australia, and while he owned three different Miura before, this red Countach would become his first LP, he actually had this very car parked inside his Sydney studio while recording songs before he would take her back to Los Angeles, where he drove it on ‘Riva 1’ license plates.
Over the next couple of years, Rod Stewart started modifying his red Countach, he fitted a set of Gotti five-spoke wheels and a small spoiler to the rear, but after Lamborghini officially released the LP400 S evolution, Rod Stewart turned to Al Mardikian to have his ‘narrow body’ Countach fitted with the S style wide wheel arches and front spoiler.
But while the factory original Countach LP400 S came with rubber insets between the body and the extended wheel arches, Mardikian had them integrated onto the original aluminum body, making them look smoother. Rod Stewart didn’t stop there, he also had the stunning ‘telephone dial’ Campagnolo wheels fitted to his Countach, and completed the transormation with the well-know, full width rear wing … it might slow down the Countach a little, but it does look very impressive nonetheless.
But I guess Rod Stewart still felt his 1977 Lamborghini Countach ‘S-spec’ looked too much like a factory car, so he had Mardikian convert her into the ‘SS’ spec … which involved cutting away the roof part above the two seats, hence creating a ‘targa-style’ convertible. The removeable roof panel could be put back in place to create a coupe style look, but the point was to have a convertible V12, a Countach Spyder or Roadster, but it was called the Countach SS Mardikian, and from the documentation we could find, only three were ever made.
By 1987 Rod Stewart had the car imported into the United Kingdom, and put her on the ‘RML 651R’ registration, with the R dictating a 1977 model year, this very special Lamborghini Countach was driven a little over the next few years, until he sold her in 2002. The next owner had this RHD model converted into a LHD, and made sure the engine was overhauled by the time she was put on display at the 2010 Rétromobile event in Paris.
By now the silver wheels were redone in gold, the rear wing was removed, and the interior received new leather in light magnolia while an in-depth detaling job was performed on the bright red paint, i 2013, Countach nr 1120262 changed hands again, and this latest owner decided he didn’t like the Mardikian SS conversion and started a restoration to full factory specifications as she left the gates in 1977 … without going back to RHD however.
Coachwork during this restoration was done by Battaglia e Bolognesi of Ferrara while the interior was restored by Bruno Paratelli, drivetrain and mechanics were the work of Top Motors of Nonatola … the result was a factory original looking, early Lamborghini Countach LP400, complete with the Periscopio tunnel … a masterpiece created by Marcello Gandini in the Seventies.
This Lamborghini Countach LP400 was entered into RM Sotheby’s Paris auction, with an estimate between € 750,000 and € 900,000 (US$ 907,600-1,089,200), she subsequently sold on February 13, 2021 for € 775,625 (US$ 938,658) including the buyer’s premium.
So one of only three or so Al Mardikian Lamborghini Countach SS no longer exists today, chassis 1120262 continues her life as a ‘normal’ LP400 model, not completely restored to factory specs as it was initially a RHD version, but still, one of 157 narrow-body Countach models … I wonder if removing the Mardikian conversion increased the value … but I’m sure it did for the purist collector.