When it comes to the automotive world, there are a few iconic cars that changed the world forever and will remain an ‘Icon’ in the future too, and while many would state they’ve created the latest classic, or the new iconic car or model, it is only time that will tell if a car has become an everlasting classic, a true automotive icon, and it’s safe to say the Lamborghini Countach is an icon, and will always be an icon.
2021 became an important year for Automobili Lamborghini SpA, not only did this year mark the 50th anniversary of the legendary Countach prototype unveiled in 1971, but in this same year Polo Storico managed to reconstruct the actual prototype Countach LP500 for a fortunate customer and long-time Lamborghini collector, and as an homage to the classic Lamborghini they created the limited edition Countach LPI 800-4.
I’ve already compared the classic Countach to her contemporary counterpart, and while the new 2021 few-off does have some classic Countach design elements, the fact it had to be based on the current Aventador basics severely limited what the Lamborghini design department led by Mitja Borkert could do, many have complained about the large air intake on the side, but that big 6.5-liter V12 just needs a lot more cool air compared to the 70’s 4-Liter unit. And no, there isn’t a massive, towering rear wing available on the Countach LPI 800-4, it comes with a flush-mounted rear wing that only rises when needed, this is the Countach for the 21st century, there’s no denying that.
I could rewrite the entire essay on how Lamborghini sees The Icon Reborn, but I’m just going to quote the official press release below so I don’t miss any of the intonation made by some of the masterpieces at work here:
The meeting opened with a presentation by Stephan Winkelmann, Chairman, and CEO of Lamborghini, and then continued with a discussion featuring some of the company’s most influential figures: Federico Foschini, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer, who oversees Polo Storico Lamborghini; Maurizio Reggiani, Chief Technical Officer and member of Polo Storico’s Comitato dei Saggi (Wise Men Committee), and Mitja Borkert, Head of Design. They were joined by an exceptional special guest, Stephen Bayley, writer, curator, critic, design expert, and founder of the Design Museum in London, who opened the discussion by explaining the concept of a classic: “It is something definitive and universal, whereby definitive we mean a concept that goes beyond the passing of time and universal means that everyone likes it.” Bayley then added: “If we can recognize a city by the buildings that make up its skyline, for example, Paris with its Eiffel Tower and the Montmartre Basilica, Florence with its Duomo and bell tower, or London with Big Ben and the towering The Shard across the Thames, then the design of those individual works is so extraordinary and so powerful that it makes those buildings different from all others. Their form can hardly be improved, but some details can be developed, keeping the basic concept intact. This is what I think about as I look at the two Lamborghini Countachs side by side: the 1971 LP 500 and the new Countach LPI 800-4. Fifty years of history face to face and icons of their time, whose distinctive style and extraordinary performance have earned them their place in the automotive elite.”
“There are works of art that always remain relevant, and the design of the Countach is one of them.” This is how Mitja Borkert described the styling of this automotive icon. “Its distinctive feature,” he added, “is dictated by a single longitudinal line, visually connecting its front and rear. It’s a perfect inspiration since even if you change the rest, it’s an element of visual continuity between past and present. It’s the sum of the design elements in Lamborghini’s DNA, the tradition of the styling language from the company’s origins to the present day.”
Federico Foschini remarked: “The reconstruction of the first Countach took 25,000 hours of work and study and involved every company department. We wanted to recreate the LP 500 prototype presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, the same one that after years of road tests was destroyed in the crash tests necessary to obtain homologation.
Few people saw it in person, but everyone fell in love with it from the photographs. The attention and success we achieved when we presented this reconstruction was a clear and further sign that this car is now a legend.
What was even more striking was the fact that it attracted different generations without distinction, though they are usually quite distant in terms of their tastes and definition of beauty.”
For Maurizio Reggiani, who remembers the huge impact the Countach LP 500 had on him and his professional growth, the new Countach LPI 800-4 has all the necessary characteristics to become part of the collective imagination. “The technical formula of the LP 500, with its V12 engine in a longitudinal position at the rear and the gearbox positioned in front behind the cockpit, led to a new way of imagining super sports cars in terms of both design and performance. The vertically opening doors, which debuted on the LP 500, and the mechanical layout remained unchanged, confirming the original choice. The Countach LPI 800-4 adds modern technology, including composite materials, improved aerodynamic features, and a 12-cylinder hybrid engine equipped with a supercapacitor and four-wheel drive. All elements that have not changed the extraordinary spirit of the original Countach.”
So the Countach LP500 reconstruction took a massive effort to get right for Mr. Spiess, a car collector from Switzerland, apparently over 25,000 hours of preparation and subsequently the construction, and while there is no official mention of pricing, you just know having Lamborghini Polo Storico create such an iconic car, virtually from scratch, will be priceless, as is the result, the one and only Lamborghini Countach prototype in the world, build at Sant’Agata.
On the other hand, there is a price for the Countach LPI 800-4, which is about €2,400,000 before taxes and options, and while only 112 units of this 21 century Countach will be built, they were all sold before the car was even shown to the general public, and according to Lamborghini many of these 112 cars were bought by customers that already own a Countach from the late Seventies or Eighties, and while they can spec this homage through Ad Personam using the latest colors for the exterior, the wheels, and use leather or Alcantara … or mix both, for the interior, it seems many have opted to go for the classic color scheme often seen on the legendary Countach from back then.
Make sure to check out the official video where Stephen Bayley talks about classics, icons, and why the Countach has become an automotive icon: