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Coachwork by Coachwork by Bertone
Please note that this vehicle will not be sold for use or resale in California or to a non-dealer California resident.
Of the many lightning bolts thrown by a young Marcello Gandini during his tenure at Carrozzeria Bertone, the Lamborghini Miura and its successor, the Countach LP400 “Periscopica,” defined many precepts of the mid-engine exotic car.
When the Lamborghini LP500 show car debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971 with a five-liter version of the Lamborghini V-12, few thought this “kinetic sculpture” would actually enter production. The LP500’s wedge-shape and scissor doors were more feasible elaborations of the forms first seen in Gandini’s 1968 Alfa Romeo Carabo show car, but the LP500 was nonetheless quite outrageous. Casting further doubt over development of any production Countach, in the year after its Geneva debut Ferruccio Lamborghini agreed to sell a 51% stake in Automobili Lamborghini to Georges-Henri Rossetti.
Mr. Lamborghini did, however, remain personally involved during initial phases of Countach development. In 1972, lead engineer Paolo Stanzani and factory test driver Bob Wallace drove a prototype Countach to Sicily and back; shortly after that journey, Rossetti and Lamborghini approved production.
At Geneva in 1973, Lamborghini presented the yet more fully realized Longitudinale Prototipo 400, or LP400, using the proven four-liter V-12 that for years had served in varying forms in the Miura and Espada. As development progressed, it became obvious that cooling the engine required modification of Gandini’s original design, but the resulting NACA ducts that punctured the rear flanks to guide airflow to the radiators joined the scissor doors, origami-like bodywork, big V-12, and the periscope-style rear view mirror as defining elements of the early Countach. Series production ramped up slowly in 1974 and ultimately 158 examples were produced before the updated LP400 S was introduced.
The Countach presented here, chassis 1120064, is among the earliest LP400s—it was just the 32nd car to leave the production line. According to Lamborghini factory records, this Countach was originally finished in Blu Metallizzato with Tabacco leather and shipped on March 2, 1975 to Al Mansour Trading, the official Lamborghini concessionaire in Saudi Arabia. Interestingly, one other early LP400, chassis 1120062, was delivered to Saudi Arabia in 1975, and was reportedly sold new to Prince Mansour bin Mishal – a member of the House of Saud.
During the 1980s, both Saudi-delivered LP400s were sold to European collectors; 1120062 was shipped to a new owner in Italy, while 1120064 was sold to an enthusiast living in Mayen-Koblenz, Germany and later repainted black. The Lamborghini remained in Germany until the late 1990s or early 2000s, when it was sold to an Italian collector who eventually returned it to its original livery.
In 2015, an American collector acquired the Countach from Romagna Motorsport Srl in Ravenna, Italy, and imported it to the US. Soon after arriving in the states, the Lamborghini was entrusted to Italian car specialist Restoration & Performance Motorcars in Vergennes, Vermont, for a carburetor and distributor service, as well as attention to the brakes, suspension, and fuel system.
Enjoyed on the occasional tour since, the Countach presents today as a well-kept and serviceable driver-quality example. As such, this LP400 could be enjoyed and maintained in its current condition for several years, then restored and debuted on the concours circuit. Unlike a surprising number of early “Periscopicas,” this car retains its original matching-numbers engine and has not suffered from modifications, serious accident damage, or neglect.
With just 158 built, the LP400 is among the most exclusive of all road-going Lamborghinis and one of the most sought-after Italian exotics of all time. These extraordinary automobiles rarely appear for sale, and this particular example, with its elegant original color scheme, fascinating Saudi provenance, and matching-numbers engine, is certainly deserving of a closer look.