Lamborghini Countach: Welcome to the millionaire's club
Has the Countach now completed its transition from second-hand supercar to collector's item?
“The Countach is one of the most dramatic cars ever produced, and it's just now starting to be considered as a collector's item rather than a second-hand supercar.” Those were the words of classic car authority Simon Kidston not six months ago, as part of our 7 cars to watch in 2014 feature. But after breaking several records already this year, has the Countach now completed its transition?
One of those records, the title of ‘most expensive Countach to be sold at auction’, was claimed by Bonhams with the $1.2m sale of an early ‘Periscopica’ in Connecticut earlier this month. “The Countach is really capturing the imagination of the global market at the moment: we had around 15 telephone bidders for that car, as well as goodness knows how many bids by proxy,” said the British auction house’s UK-based expert, Tim Schofield. The UK auction record for a Countach was also recently broken, with £337,120 achieved by Historics at Brooklands for a 1982 model, the subject of another frenzied bidding tussle.
The surge in demand
But what’s behind this surge in demand? After all, the Countach’s most desirable features are hardly breaking news. “The interest in Italian exotica across the board, not to mention the ever-increasing prices of Ferraris, is pushing up the perceived value of these cars,” says Schofield. That’s an opinion shared by Bob Forstner, whose eponymous UK- and Germany-based dealerships were built on the popularity of supercars such as the Countach. “All Lamborghinis are undervalued if you consider the price of the respective Ferrari,” he tells Classic Driver.
“Much like a Jaguar E-type, many find the early ‘Periscopica’ Countaches the most desirable, such was their design purity,” says Schofield. “The later cars brought the flares, aerofoils and other elements of brutal aggression, but the top end of the collector market seems to prefer the car true to its original form.” However, one shouldn’t necessarily avoid the later cars, according to Forstner: “The later QV models and the still relatively unpopular 25th Anniversary models were technically the best to drive. I think a good history, matching numbers, healthy bodywork and original paint are of higher importance.”
Regardless of model specifics, Countach values have risen across the board in recent years, as Schofield explains: “Ratios in value remain the same, but they don’t necessarily go up at the same time. For instance, five or ten years ago an early- to mid-eighties Countach was worth the same £70,000 as a 246 Dino. The latter now commands around £250,000, so it was only a matter of time before the Countach would start achieving similar prices… and, in the case of the LP400 we sold recently, a lot more.”
Despite only 150-or-so being produced, there will be another opportunity to purchase an example of the most desirable model, the LP400 ‘Periscopica’, at Bonhams’ Goodwood Festival of Speed sale this weekend. Then, in August, RM Auctions will offer a fetching bronze LP400S Series I at its Monterey 2014 auction. So is now the time to meet a childhood hero? Quite possibly, believes Schofield: “The Countach is already following in the tyretracks of the Miura in terms of collectability, and should the market remain constant as a whole, it will continue to do so.” With that sort of precedent, the case for it becoming a collector car today is as compelling as the styling of Gandini’s masterpiece four decades on.
Photos: Bonhams/RM Auctions