British magazine Performance Car said it all with the title of its October 1988 test of Lamborghini’s latest road-burner: “Exclusive. The Anniversary Countach. Will it be the Last?”
They were correct. The Countach 25th Anniversary proved to be an instant sell-out. Over a period of 18 months to July 1990, a total of some 650 cars turned out to be the final evolution of a fabulously outrageous line started by the LP400 Periscopica in 1974.
The Lamborghini Countach 25th Anniversary
Marcello Gandini, the man behind the Miura, hit the headlines at the 1971 Geneva Salon with another show-stopping design for Ferruccio Lamborghini. It was the Countach, a model that finally made it into proper production in 1974 as the LP400, best known for its origami styling, boxy vents and scoops and an over-the-roof rear mirror; hence the soubriquet ‘Periscope’.
‘LP’ stood for Longitudinale Posteriore: the engine and gearbox were mounted lengthways in the car, rather than transversely like the Miura. The big gearbox was ahead of the equally large – growing over time from 3293cc to 5167cc – V12 engine, so the driver was engaging directly with the box via the stubby lever.
All Countachs were quick cars; mad and bad, with many owners definitely ‘dangerous to know’. It was the poster car for a generation, most often holding the title Fastest Car in the World thanks to an ongoing programme of engine development and chassis refinement. Four, ever-more-sophisticated models followed the original LP400: LP400 S, 5000 S and 5000 S QV, before the final version was announced by the then Chrysler-backed company at the 1988 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
The new car, named ‘Countach 25th Anniversary’ to recognise Lamborghini’s quarter of a century as a car maker, was mechanically identical to the 190+mph, 455bhp 5000 S QV. Chrysler was acutely aware that, for reasons of comfort and fashion, Lamborghini's flagship wasn’t selling as well to the high-rollers in the sunspots of East and West Coast America as its Testarossa rival from Maranello. So small refinements were made here and there, principally to make life in the cabin more enjoyable. Improved air conditioning and better heat management of the engine bay via the slots, slats and ducts that covered the Anniversary, led to it running cooler. It probably produced a few more horsepower, too. The distinctive split-rim alloys were from Italian company O.Z.
While style commentators ever since have written colourfully about the last-ever Countach’s go-faster grilles, side skirts and strakes, in the year that the final album to involve all four of the original members of Boney M. rode high in the charts, and The Phantom of the Opera opened on Broadway, it went down a storm.
For the 1990s the Diablo replaced the Countach as Lamborghini’s ultimate supercar. Nothing ever since has had quite the cultural impact of the Countach. The 25th Anniversary was the last-ever Countach and the final car was finished in July 1990, the 1997th example built of the world’s most famous supercar.
This Motor Car
Chassis ‘12935’ was first registered on 1st July 1990, having been delivered on 21st June 1990 by official agent Achilli Motors SpA, Milan. One of the last cars to be built, its first owner was Silvano Rapini, his purchase handled by Italian finance company Royal Style Leasing of Novara, in whose name it was registered.
Its classic Rosso Siviglia (‘Seville Red’) coachwork contrasted well with a very of-the-period interior of ice-cool Bianco hide. It was built to the most powerful, European specification, with small bumpers and none of the mandatory emissions or safety add-ons which sapped American market cars of their performance and aesthetic 'wow' factor.
Chassis '12935' was later acquired by German arch-enthusiast Peter Kaus for his world class Rosso Bianco Collection in Aschaffenburg, Germany. For several decades until its dispersal in 2006 this was arguably the finest collection of Italian and broader European sports and racing cars in existence. Peter Kaus retained this Countach even after parting with his wider collection, selling the car directly to the present owner in 2013.
The odometer reads just 6,349km, and we have no doubt this is the total covered from new.
In 2014, the owner entrusted marque specialists Top Motors, run by ex-Lamborghini foreman Orazio Salvioli and his son Luca, and award-winning body and paint experts Carrozzeria Cremonini, to carry out a full service and correct any deficiencies in the body or interior. Salvioli remarked that the car was original and in fine shape, though oversaw the following work completed at Top Motors and Cremonini:
Removing and painting front spoiler and front and rear bumpers in correct Rosso Siviglia
Painting the rear panel
All black sections repainted, including the air intakes
Chassis and engine bay detailed
Interior cleaned where necessary
Exhaust cleaned and painted
Badges nickel plated
Replacing clutch master and slave cylinders,
Replacing alternator belt
Changing brake fluid, engine oil and transmission oil.
Fitting new front (225/70 ZR15) and rear (345/35 ZR15) tyres
A short while after the work was completed, the owner was approached by well-known ex-factory test driver Valentino Balboni who had been invited to take part in a Lamborghini meeting at Jesolo, near Venice. Could he borrow ‘12935’ for the event? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’. The ever-popular Balboni drove the car, fitted with evocative Italian Prova plates, for some 450km, entertaining spectators and fellow competitors alike. A brief glimpse of the great man at the wheel of ‘12935’, scissor doors up, even appeared on YouTube.
Serviced up to date, taxed, MoT’d and road-registered in the UK, this Countach, one of the last ever built, is an opportunity to be part of the final chapter of a dramatic story of fashion, power and money that started nearly two decades earlier in March 1971.