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Early Model Periscope: 1976 Lamborghini Countach LP 400

We often think about the Lamborghini Countach in the context of the model that came in the middle and late 1980s. The wings, scoops, fat fenders made the car an instant icon, but it also clouded the important history of the model that came before its explosion into every high school boy’s fantasies. The LP 400 is the earliest version of the Countach, often referred to as the “Periscopio” and is one of the best examples of a concept car design making its way into mass production. This example listed here on RM Sotheby’s website is a pristine specimen wearing a gorgeous shade of paint known as Blu Tahiti.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Araknid78 for the find. I have never been one to wax poetic about the Countach. But the LP 400? That’s a different story. Both the design and engineering were astounding for a car built in the late 70s, and I urge you to take a moment to look at the design. Look at the cutaway in front of the rear wheels – it’s a small detail but significant. The wheels are a surprisingly simple design, almost like the Bundt-style wheel found on the W123 chassis Mercedes-Benz models. But then you notice the wheels are staggered with deep dish on the rear wheels. That’s just the nature of this car: it’s simple but the design has supercar tendencies woven all the way through it. It didn’t need a huge rear wing to send a message.

While the Countach interior hasn’t changed dramatically over its production run, you have to love seeing an early model like with its incredibly simple layout, free of buttons and electronics of any significance. It has crank windows, for God’s sake! Some fun Easter eggs with this example is that it left the factory with air conditioning and two rear view mirrors; it was delivered new to a dealer in Canada, which almost makes you stop and think: did they really deliver new Lamborghinis to places other than Miami and Switzerland? This car is a previous award winner at the 2013 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and it certainly shows.

This LP 400 spent many years in storage – close to two decades – with its fluids drained, clearly prepared for a prolonged stay off the road. A recommissioning followed to bring it back to life, and to hear the 3.9-liter V-12 put its 375 horsepower back to good use once more. The car is set to be auctioned off in Miami at the start of March, with pre-sale estimates putting a final hammer price in the range of $1,100,000 – $1,400,000 USD. That’s a serious price but in general, Countach values have been steadily rising with no sign of slowing down. What’s your favorite era of Countach, the original or the poster car?

Comments

  1. Avatar photo 8banger Member

    Beautiful – I didn’t know of this type. And don’t forget the bundt wheel for the R-108 chassis, as out ’83 380SL has one.

    Like 2
  2. Avatar photo SubGothius

    Huh, Stewart-Warner gauges, interesting choice for an Italian maker. Note the vertical sweep of the gauges, including a stylish vertical odometer in the speedo.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo Sal Monella

      The Lambo Miura is probably the most beautiful car ever designed …this one not so much 😰

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Al

    My favorite Lambo model is made from crystal glass and sits in a curio. Very economical, does not get dusty and insurance is zip.

    Like 10
  4. Avatar photo Jim in FL

    I love the early LPs, before the body got clogged up with flares and spoilers. Such a clean design, and imagine in the early 70s, this becomes the follow-up to the Miura. The miura was all swoop an this comes along looking like a retro-future spaceship.

    I wish they could take a picture that shows the view out of the periscope rear view mirror. I was fortunate enough to have a relative who owned a later countach that he let me drive and the inside mirror was completely useless.

    SubGothius, fun trivia, I was told by a pilot friend that the gauges in a car are aligned to all point vertical when they are at their “right” spot. In aviation they are horizontally when reading all is well.

    Like 6
  5. Avatar photo Russell

    All those carbs … synchronizing nightmare.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo Rob

    Yellow plug wires? Seriously? There’s no way that shipped from Italy with those.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Araknid78

    Nice to see the car as it was originally designed without all the gharish accoutrements

    Like 4
  8. Avatar photo Don Leblanc

    Even today this is still a timeless design, simply beautiful.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo Dan

    The Countach is a better looking car without the spoiler and the other tacky add-ons like on the 1990 model listed earlier. But the plug wires should be black.

    Like 3
  10. Avatar photo Neil R Norris

    Countach … garish, over the top, impractical, punishing and a real challenge to drive … and YES I WANT ONE!!!

    Like 4
  11. Avatar photo Driveinstile Member

    I just watched an episode of Comedians in Cars getting coffee. Jerry Seinfeld picked up Jim Carey in either this exact Lamborghini, or theres an exact twin out there. It looked great and is nice to see one that isnt red or black, this is a great color on this car. It was something to see them driving this car thats worth so much money on the streets, running it through the gears.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Joe Camel

      Yup! The details of the Sotheby’s listing actually mentions this IS the car Jerry drove in that episode.

      Like 1
  12. Avatar photo douglas hunt

    yes, the LP400 is the purest form of the Countach. I like the later cars too, except the 25 anniversary as those finned grills take away the insane looks to me.
    No wing for me, without a wing the design is very good, and sleek, oh and none of those US mandated bumpers, sheesh

    Like 2

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