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12 Things You Didn't Know About The Lamborghini Countach

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The Lamborghini Countach is the poster car of poster cars. Even today, you'd be hard-pressed to find a car with lines as polarizingly wild—a seriously impressive feat considering it first went into production in 1974. But did you know that most of those lines are absolutely functional, or that Lamborghini once built a monstrous 748 hp turbocharged version? Those are just two of 12 awesome things about the Countach that you probably didn't know.

1. The name "Countach" actually translates to a swear word

This has to be one of the best side-steppings of censorship that any company ever got away with. Countach is a swear word in the Piedmontese dialect, and it's what the head of the Bertone design house exclaimed when he saw the car's design for the first time.

2. The father of the Countach is one of the best car designers you've never heard of

Marcello Gandini's other car designs? The Lamborghini Miura, the Diablo (and a slew of other Lambos), the first BMW 5-Series, the Alfa Romeo Montreal, Ferrari Dino 308, De Tomaso Pantera, Renault 5 Turbo, and the Lancia Stratos, to name but a few.

3. From an engineering standpoint, it was basically a race car for the street

The aluminum body was mounted over a tubular frame, not unlike what you'll find on most purpose-built race cars, even today.

4. Countach became the first production car with vertically-opening scissor doors

Gandini had earlier used them on the also-iconic Alfa Romeo Carabo concept a few years earlier, but no car entered production with them until the Countach. Hence the term "Lambo doors."

5. The earliest Countach's top speed was seriously overestimated

Predictions that it could top 186 mph were more than a tad unrealistic. By some accounts, this was a deliberate attempt to dethrone the Ferrari Daytona, which itself had dethroned the Countach's predecessor Miura. Independent tests of the day indicated that the actual top speed was a still-not-pedestrian 170 mph.

6. The evil geniuses at Lamborghini once devised a 748 hp turbocharged version

Two prototypes were built, but the car unsurprisingly never saw production. Unleashing a car like that in the 1980s, before anything even remotely resembling today's electronic driver aids existed, would've been a nightmare for Lamborghini's legal team. But it would've been pretty freakin' awesome for anyone that lived to tell the tale.

7. The Countach's ultimate iteration was designed by Horacio Pagani

Yes, that Pagani. For the 25th Anniversary Edition, he gave the car a serious facelift with over 500 changes in total.

8. And Pagani built a Countach completely out of carbon fiber

The Evoluzione, pictured above, was essentially a testbed for new tech. Pagani headed up its development, convinced that carbon fiber was the future, but the higher-ups at Lamborghini didn't share that sentiment. Within a few years Pagani left to start his eponymous car company. 

9. You basically had to be a gymnast to park the damn thing

The Countach had what you might call absolutely god-awful rearward visibility. Thus, most owners wound up reversing into a parking spot by opening the door, sitting halfway out on the door sill, and turning around to look over the rear of the car, while still working the pedals and steering wheel.

10. The Countach isn't just the definitive poster car, it's also the poster child for federally mandated ugly bumpers

In order to be legally imported to the U.S., the Countach had to be fitted with a federalized bumper, i.e. one that met U.S. safety standards. If anyone ever tells you that the law isn't blind, just point to the monstrosity you see on the front of this car.

11. Most of the bold shapes on the car are actually functional

You already know about the doors. The fender flares you see on some of the cars allow for wider tires that were fitted in 1978. The ducts on the side help keep the engine from melting both the car and itself, and the optional rear wing keeps the car stable so you can actually travel at high speeds without facing certain death.

12. The very last Countach was produced on the 4th of July

The last Countach was born right as the first Diablo was being built. It never made it to America, though, going instead to Lamborghini's corporate museum.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. Because of the sharp front end, he considers the Countach to be the single most painful die-cast car to step on as a child.

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