12,500KMs from new 1975 Lamborghini Countach LP400 'Periscopio' Coupé Registration no. BVU 985N Chassis no. 1120070 Engine no. 1120068
The legendary Miura was always going to be a hard act to follow, so the extent to which its successor eclipsed the greatest of 1960s supercars came as something of a shock to all. The sensation of the 1971 Geneva Salon, the Countach was styled, like its predecessor, by Bertone's Marcello Gandini. It was nothing less than spectacular, looking like it had been conceived on another planet. As Motor magazine observed: 'few people gazing at the original Bertone Countach at Geneva in 1971 could have regarded it as anything but a "show" car. There were those fold-up doors for a start and the space-age cockpit with its abysmal rear visibility not to mention the strange engine/transmission configuration.' Happily, Lamborghini disregarded criticism of the car's supposed lack of practicality and the Countach entered production changed in detail only. As it happened, the production version would not be seen for another two years, with deliveries commencing in 1974.
The Miura's four-cam V12 was retained for the Countach, though this time installed longitudinally and equipped with side-draught Weber carburettors. To achieve optimum weight distribution, designer Paolo Stanzani placed the five-speed gearbox ahead of the engine between the seats, and the differential - driven by a shaft passing through the sump - at the rear. The result was a delightful gearchange and a better-balanced car than the Miura. When production began in 1974, the Countach sported an improved spaceframe chassis, replacing the prototype's rather untidy semi-monocoque, while the bodywork was made of aluminium. The running gear was carried over from the Miura. One of the Countach's most striking features was the doors, which opened vertically and were supported by hydraulic struts, pivoting at their most forward point.
The production Countach came with the standard 4.0-litre - instead of the prototype's 5.0-litre - engine. Even with the smaller engine producing 'only' 375bhp, the aerodynamically efficient Countach could attain 170mph (274km/h) and, naturally, came with racetrack roadholding to match. Designated 'LP400' by the factory (LP = Longitudinale Posteriore, describing the engine placement), the first Countach is commonly known as the 'periscopio', after its central periscope, faired into the roof, which provided rearward vision.
This stunning example of the revolutionary Countach in its original LP400 'periscopio' form is one of approximately 157 built between 1974 and 1977, which explains why examples are only rarely seen for sale. A rare, right-hand drive example, chassis number '1120070' was delivered new to Malta, its first owner being one Alfred John Gaul. The car was first registered in the UK in 1990 and was first owned in this country by well-known collector, the late John 'Jack' Tattershall. In the current ownership since 1993, the Countach has been driven on the road every year since its acquisition, albeit sparingly, and currently displays a believed-genuine total of only 12,500 kilometres on the odometer (approximately 7,800 miles). The reading at time of acquisition in 1993 was 10,500 kilometres. As one would expect of a car that has seen relatively little use, this Countach remains in remarkably original condition; indeed, the engine has never been apart. Repainted in the 1990s, it is finished in one of the nicest colour combinations of Blue with Ice interior, the latter original and nicely patinated.
Over the years, 'BVU 985N' has been carefully maintained by recognised specialists (Lorenzini Motorsport, Motorapide, Bob Houghton) and comes with bills totalling £33,000, some £15,000 being spent two years ago. The car also comes with its original service book, stamped initially by the Lamborghini factory, the instruction manual and a UK V5 registration document.
A ground-breaking design that set new standards for aspiring supercar manufacturers, the Lamborghini Countach is one of the most iconic sports cars of the 20th Century, and none more so than in its earliest and purest LP400 form.