Marcello Ghandini’s design is still as dramatic today as when it was first launched. Picture: RM SOTHEBY’S
Marcello Ghandini’s design is still as dramatic today as when it was first launched. Picture: RM SOTHEBY’S

Countach is an expression of astonishment in the Italian dialect Piedmontese, and it was a fitting name given to perhaps the most astonishing Lamborghini of them all.

It was a break from the tradition, which still continues, of giving Lamborghinis names associated with famous bulls and bullfighting.

Marcello Ghandini’s design has stood the test of time and the Countach still has all the showstopping visual drama it did when it was unveiled to gasps of shock and delight in 1974.

The V12 mid-engined supercar was cramped, difficult to drive (you needed a bodybuilder’s leg to press the clutch), and had virtually no rear view through its letterbox-sized back windscreen. But that beautifully angular wedge shape and scissor doors made it a cult classic, and its V12 wasn’t short of power either; the most powerful version of the car, the 5.2l quattrovalve, was able to scorch to a top speed of 298km/h — not bad for 1985.

A total of 1,983 cars were built during the Countach’s 16-year lifetime. The Italian supercar has appreciated in value in recent years, with a current average local selling price of about R6m.

The car pictured here is a 1989 Countach 25th Anniversary Edition, which is going under the hammer at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Monterey, US, from August 15-17.

This spotless 25th Anniversary Lamborghini goes under the hammer at RM Sotheby's auction in August. Picture: RM SOTHEBY’S
This spotless 25th Anniversary Lamborghini goes under the hammer at RM Sotheby's auction in August. Picture: RM SOTHEBY’S

This beautifully preserved example is one of just 657 editions built to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary, has less than 8,000km on the odometer, and is fitted with an optional rear wing.

This last iteration of Lamborghini’s most iconic car retained the same visual flamboyance and performance of the existing 5000 QV but boasted nearly 500 updates, including the addition of electric windows and a more powerful air conditioner.

There were some subtle exterior tweaks too, designed by Horacio Pagani, who later established his own, even more exclusive, Italian supercar company.