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Enthusiasts: When Retro Goes Wrong: Why Lamborghini’s Countach LPI 800-4 Is a Miss

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The unveiling of the new Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 was the most controversial thing to happen during this year's Monterey Car Week. Well, there was the rumor that Thurston Pillsbury III voted for Jack Kennedy, but we don't talk about that. No, it was the new Countach—all 112 examples at about $3 million a pop—that had people talking, mostly not in a good way.

a car parked on the side of a road: Lamborghini Countach LPI 800 4 2 © Manufacturer Lamborghini Countach LPI 800 4 2

At face value, the 2022 Countach LPI 800-4 is a rebodied Sián FKP 37 (itself a rebodied and hybridized Aventador), an 803-hp 50th anniversary homage to the world's most definitive supercar. Lambo is building 112 of them, because the internal code name for the original concept Countach project was LP112. Logical, no? So what's the controversy?

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There's no room for logic when it comes to the Lamborghini Countach. Simply put, the new car just isn't absolutely bonkers.

"Countach" means something akin to astonishment, only dirtier. Nearly every other Lamborghini is named after a bull or a guy that killed a bull. Not here. I'm going to say something a bit controversial: The original Countach, neither the LP500 concept nor the much-fetishized LP400 Periscopio, isn't even the Countach. The Countach didn't become the Countach until the LP400 S appeared in 1978, seven years after Gandini's original Bertone design sat on the 1971 Lamborghini Geneva show stan

The LP400 S was the one with flared fenders, phone-dial wheels, fat Pirelli tires, and, most crucially, that amazing wing. Don't take my word for it; an incredible Series III (82 produced) Verde Metallizzato-colored 1981 LP400 S won the special Countach class at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Talk about definitive.

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a group of people riding on the back of a truck: Lamborghini-Countach-LPI-800-4-1.jpg © Manufacturer Lamborghini-Countach-LPI-800-4-1.jpg

This new Countach, sadly, ain't that car (the one you see above). As much a pastiche as an homage, the LPI 800-4 draws from several Countach iterations, though the big influence seems to be the ill-fated prototype, the LP500. The most glaring detail is the shark-gill vents that sit above the comically oversized faux-NACA ducts on the body sides. Not one production car ever had those gills—just the prototype, which was subsequently destroyed in crash testing. Seems like an odd feature to single out, no?

a jet is parked on the side of the road © Manufacturer

The effect is that from the B-pillar back, the design references another V-12 Lamborghini, the far more recent Murciélago with its popup intakes in the down position. There's a bit of Diablo mixed in there, too. If the intakes aft of the gills had been raised rectangles, then at least some of the rear half would have read Countach.

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Video: 2022 Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 (Motor Trend)

I could go on and on attacking those mega triangles that are clearly not NACA ducts. They take up the entire door and remove all the tension from the side profile. These giant negative spaces look like part of the door was hacked away, almost like a wound. Why are they so massive? Because the design team was constrained by the Aventador mechanicals. The mighty 6.5-liter V-12 requires gobs of fresh air. The rear of the triangle—which, of course, is the same size as every Aventador side scoop—is the proof.

Speaking of constraints, the taillights are lifted right off the Sián. This irks me for two reasons. One, the OG Countach has perhaps the most distinctive taillights, well, ever. And two, how many millions is Lambo charging for this new one? Change out the lights, man. I could keep picking nits like this, but that's not the central problem.

The LP500 prototype that Lamborghini head of design Mitja Borkert decided to emulate is not the Countach an entire generation of car-mad teenagers hung on their walls. It didn't even have a NACA duct. I had a short discussion with Borkert about the new Countach at Pebble Beach. I had posted a shorter version of these thoughts on Instagram, and when I walked into the Lamborghini house, Borkert raised his fists up at me. Playfully, I hope. He previously explained to me how he, unlike most Countach fans, grew up in East Germany. Not only did he not have one of those posters on his bedroom wall, but he also never so much as saw a Countach back then. I don't mean to pick on Borkert; he's a terrific designer responsible for the drop-dead gorgeous Porsche Mission E concept car. But he missed the mark here.

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There's an undeniable irony that the man tasked with reimagining the literal poster child for Reagan-era excess grew up under communism. During the coked-out days of Gordon Gekko, the word "Countach" was essentially a synonym for too much never being enough. There's a reason why in The Wolf of Wall Street, DiCaprio had that drug-fueled wrestling match with a Countach and not another car. Remember, countach, the expression itself, is what some people reflexively shouted in Sant'Agata Bolognese when they saw a beautiful woman. Were you to rip someone's blindfold off in front of the new Countach, there are many words they might utter, but "countach" isn't one of them. Now, the Aston Martin Valkyrie Spider? Holy countach!

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2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO First Drive Review .
Porsche has its RS variants, Mercedes-AMG its Black Series, and Ferrari its Pista edition. But another luxury performance brand has taken measures to join this trend with the introduction of the 2021 Lamborghini Huracán STO – a car built for the track that’s also homologated for use on the street. Not only can you put a plate on it to drive down to your local Starbucks, but compared to the ultra-exclusive, track-only Aventador-based Essenza SCV12, which will be limited to a 40-unit run and cost upwards of $3.2 million, the Huracán STO is a relative bargain. Not only is its starting price a comparatively low $394,217, but you may actually be able to get your hands on one.

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