The original Lamborghini Countach, unveiled as a concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971, made the Italian automaker world famous. The new Countach, unveiled at an event during Monterey Car Week in California Friday, celebrates the 50th anniversary of that debut.
In many regards, the new Countach is a direct descendent of the original. It has a V12 engine, directly behind the two seats. And, like every Lamborghini sports car since the Countach, it’s shaped like a low-profile wedge.
There’s one very big difference, though. This new Countach is a hybrid. It’s not a plugin hybrid but, as the car drives, it stores power in a supercapacitor that can provide some additional power to the wheels during hard acceleration. At low speeds, it also provides power between gear shifts to help smooth the uncomfortable surging and bucking that can come from Lamborghini’s aggressive racecar-style transmission.
Supercapacitors are more expensive than batteries and they are not as good as batteries at storing energy for long periods. But they can store more energy per cubic centimeter than batteries and they can absorb and release energy more quickly.
Only 112 of the cars will be made. The number is a reference to Lamborghini’s internal project name for the original Countach, LP-112. The first cars will be delivered to customers in the first quarter of 2022.
Lamborghini chief executive Stephan Winkelmann explained that he is “not a big fan of doing ‘retro’ cars.” He wanted this car, even though it’s suggestive of the original Countach of the 1970s and ’80s, not to look like a copy.
So Lamborghini designers subtly incorporated visual cues from various versions of the old Countach, explained Lamborghini designer Mitja Borkert. The overall shape was taken from the first concept version of the Countach, which had a very smooth profile. That’s why there’s no visible rear wing. (There is a wing, since the car’s power and performance demands it, but it retracts when not needed.)
The indentation in the roof that spreads out toward the back is modeled on the “Periscopio” notch in the roof of the first production Countach cars. Instead of a typical windshield-mounted rearview mirror, those early Countaches had a sort of periscope that allowed the driver to see behind the car by looking out over the roof. The roof indentation mimics the one that the periscope looked through. In the new Countach, there is a glass sunroof inside that notch that can be darkened when the sun is too bright.
Unlike other modern Lamborghinis, the new Countach also has rectangular headlights designed to mimic those of the original. There are no fang-like light designs on the front, as Lamborghini’s other new supercars have. The narrow grille on the front with the word “Countach” written on it is also based on the original concept version.
The Countach was one of the few Lamborghini models not named after a fighting bull. “Countach!” is actually a mild curse word in the Piedmontese dialect spoken decades ago in region of Italy where the car was first designed. As the designer Marcello Gandini told CNN Business in a 2019 interview, when craftsmen were building a full-size mock-up of the car, one particularly large and gruff man kept cursing in astonishment at what he was helping to create. “Countach!” he would say over and over. The name stuck.
The Lamborghini, with its aggressive design, scissor doors and powerful engine mounted behind two seats, became the model for future supercars from Lamborghini and other manufacturers as well. Only 112 of these new Lamborghini Countaches are being built and, according to Lamborghini, all of them have already seen sold.