Sports & Classics of Monterey

13-15 August 2009

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Lot 532

1976 Lamborghini Countach LP400

  • Chassis no. 1120154

$350,000 - $400,000


A superb, fully restored early “Periscopo” example with single ownership for the past 20 years and 7,500 original miles

375 bhp, 3,929 cc V12 engine with dual overhead camshafts per cylinder bank, six Weber dual-choke carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs and anti-roll bar, independent rear suspension with upper lateral links, lower A-arms, upper and lower trailing arms, dual coil springs and anti-roll bar, and four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes. Wheelbase: 96.5"

It is not difficult to imagine the disdain with which Enzo Ferrari received the news that local tractor maker Ferruccio Lamborghini intended to build a supercar to rival his own superb Ferrari grand touring cars. But then again, Lamborghini was not a man easily dismissed. A wealthy industrialist, legend has it that he was turned down by Ferrari for a special car and became so incensed that he resolved to build his own. And so he did – his first effort, the 350GT, was a technical tour de force, with a tubular chassis, Superleggera coachwork by Touring of Milan, and a magnificent twin-cam V12 engine, with major design work by Giotto Bizzarrini, one of the Ferrari staff who left after the infamous “palace revolt” at Ferrari. As good as the 350GT and its 2+2 successor the 400GT were, however, their styling was graceful but conventional, and they were not an overwhelming commercial success.

The Miura, first shown as a bare chassis in 1965 at Turin, changed all that. Widely regarded as a landmark design penned by Bertone’s brilliant chief designer Marcello Gandini, the car looked the part of a supercar. Its specifications were no less dramatic, with a mid-mounted transverse V12 engine providing near ideal weight distribution. At the time, only race cars offered such exotic engineering – not surprising, as none other than Paolo Stanzini, chief engineer of the legendary Maserati Tipo 61 “Birdcage” sports racing car, designed the chassis. Deliveries began in 1967 and continued through the final model, the Miura SV, in 1973.

Meanwhile, the future of Lamborghini was unveiled at the 1971 Geneva Auto Show with the first public display of the new Countach, believed to be so named after a loosely translated and rather risqué Piedmontese expression of disbelief. Outrageous and seemingly otherworldly even by today’s jaded standards, the car’s dramatic styling with its trademark scissor doors and low, angular, wedge-shaped body left all onlookers speechless.

The show car was designated the LP500, for Longitudinale Posteriore 5 Litri, or longitudinal-rear five liters, with a mid-mounted engine located in front of the rear axle, the gearbox in front and positioned between the two seats. Cleverly, the final drive passed back through the engine sump, under the crankshaft, to the differential. As a result, the engine was raised, which necessitated the installation of side draft Weber carburetors, to maintain a relatively low rear deck. By virtue of this arrangement, the Countach was shorter in both wheelbase and overall length than its predecessor. However, since the stunning design of the Countach provided virtually no rearward visibility, a periscope-type rear-view mirror was added, lending the name “Periscopo” to the initial Countach series. Unfortunately, just one LP500 was built and it was ultimately destroyed at England’s Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) facility during crash testing.

The production car, designated the LP400 in recognition of its somewhat downsized yet ever potent four-liter V12 powerplant, was presented for public viewing at the 1973 Geneva motor show. While the LP 400 closely resembled the LP500 prototype, there were some differences. At the insistence of development driver and engineer Bob Wallace, the chassis, produced by longtime Lamborghini supplier Marchesi, was redesigned, and the bodywork was now constructed of lightweight aluminum. To achieve further weight reductions, special glass was procured from Belgium’s Gleverbel, and magnesium was substituted for heavier metals as well. To reduce the tendency of the LP500 to overheat, production cars incorporated additional air boxes to feed cooler air to the relocated radiators, while aerospace-type NACA air ducts were added to the sides of the car to further aid cooling.

Other notable changes marked the LP400, including the addition of a pair of small side windows, a revised taillight design, and the use of Stewart-Warner instrumentation to monitor the car’s vital systems. A Fichtel & Sachs aluminum clutch, as used in the mighty Porsche 917 race cars, as well as a pair of six-plug Marelli distributors, were specified for the LP400 as well, rounding out the development of the production Countach. Testing and development work continued, with the 1973 Geneva show car used as the testing “mule”. In the meantime, many orders awaited fulfillment and series production began slowly, with customer deliveries commencing in 1974. However, just 150 examples of the LP400 were built before the introduction of the LP400S in 1978, making these early examples, with their remarkably clean styling and purity of purpose, highly coveted and sought-after by astute collectors and marque enthusiasts today.

The 1976 LP 400 Countach offered here shows fewer than 7,500 miles today and has enjoyed single, knowledgeable ownership for the past 20 years. A two-year, ground-up restoration has just been completed by the oldest Lamborghini dealership in the United States, a facility renowned for the accuracy of its work, in addition to an enviable record of class victories achieved at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. During the restoration process, all areas of the car were attended to including the exterior, interior, engine, transmission, suspension, brakes and air conditioning, with truly spectacular results. Visually, the Countach is startling in its factory original Blu Tahiti (Tahiti Blue) exterior finish, complemented by the interior, which is trimmed in Bianco (White) and Blu (Blue) upholstery. In addition, this LP400 has a pair of rectangular driving lights and a set of sporting Campagnolo alloy wheels, mounted on period correct Michelin XWX VR-rated high-performance radial tires.

During the restoration process, the noted Lamborghini expert Valentino Balboni inspected this LP 400 on two occasions and a letter from him, attesting to the quality and accuracy of the restoration, will accompany the sale of the car. Copies of the paperwork pertaining to the importation of this specific car to the United States in 1978, including confirmation of the release of the EPA import bond, are also included. Extremely rare when new and even more so today in its wonderfully correct and freshly restored condition, this 1976 Lamborghini Countach LP400 represents the clean, initial version of the definitive supercar and wild design statement of the 1970s and ‘80s.

Addendum

Please note that this vehicle will not pass California Emissions and must be sold to a dealer or out-of-state resident.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. He is a life-long automobile enthusiast and ... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Jonathan Sierakowski

jonathan@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Jonathan Sierakowski developed a passion for classic cars while working at a Connecticut restoration shop as a teenager. He graduated with a... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more