1974 Lamborghini LP400 Countach "Periscopio" For Sale by AuctionFor sale in our forthcoming auction in Paris, on 8 february 2019.
Chassis n° 1120030
Engine n° 1120030
- Ex Walter Wolf
- Original engine and colour scheme
- One of the first Periscopes built
- A masterpiece of Italian design
It is never easy to replace a legend. But the young Marcello Gandini, then employed by Bertone, masterfully triumphed in the delicate mission entrusted to him: to design the car that would succeed the Lamborghini Miura. With the Countach, he exceeded all expectations and, starting from the drawing board, he drew a spectacular shape, very wide, low and angular. Because of the tubular frame and the high door thresholds, he took up the idea experimented on the Alfa Romeo Carabo and adopted the scissor doors. It was at the time a completely new look, which would influence all future Lamborghini. The first prototype presented at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, the LP 500, also included a periscope serving as a rear-view mirror. This device was not included in the standard version, but the dropout in the roof was retained, which earned the first LP 400 series, from 1974, the nickname "Periscopio". The design was ahead of its time, at a time when the streets were filled with Citroën Dyane, Peugeot 404, Renault 8 or Simca 1000, and today it seems just as radical as it was then.
The initials "LP" corresponded to "Longitudinale Posteriore", which referred to the longitudinal position of the engine, as opposed to the Miura where it was transverse. Contrary to the usual practice in the case of a central engine, and with a view to compactness and balance, the gearbox was placed in front of the engine, which required the presence of a transmission shaft passing through the oil sump. The engine itself was still the V12 designed by Giotto Bizzarrini, in a 3.9-litre version developing 375 hp, which enabled it to reach 270 km/h and to cover one kilometre in 24 seconds from a standing start.
A certificate from Peter Wolf of the Lamborghini Classic Club in Germany confirms that this car, the fifteenth built, is exceptional in more ways than one. It was one of the first Periscopios built, leaving the factory on 24 October 1974, before being delivered on 15 November to the Turin dealer Laborauto. It was the only Periscopio to be delivered new in the sublime colour combination it retains today, argento with tabacco leather interior. Finally, this splendid Lamborghini was owned in period by Walter Wolf, explaining the presence of indicators on the rear wings as seen on models destined for the Canadian market. Being originally a European car, this feature was undoubtedly added at Wolf's request.
Coming from a modest Austrian family, Walter Wolf emigrated to Canada and built an immense fortune as an oil tycoon. He was a passionate and extravagant self-made man, who loved motor racing and sports cars and went as far as to set up an F1 team bearing his name at the end of the 1970s ! He played a part in the history of the manufacturer from Sant'Agata Bolognese as he came close to buying the firm and launching it into Formula 1, before it was sold to Chrysler. Always in search of excitement, and spectacular cars for his own use, he was naturally attracted to the Countach. He commissioned Dallara to build three special highly-developed 5-litre Countachs, well known to collectors.
The previous owner of this superb Countach bought it from an Austrian collector in 2014. A Lamborghini enthusiast who already owned a Miura, he had the car fully serviced between 2014 and 2015. This included replacing all the fluids and filters, fuel and cooling hoses, overhauling the brakes, ignition and carburettors. Valentino Balboni was present to supervise the work. Since then, the car has only covered a few hundred kilometres and the odometer reads 20 104 kms today. Presented in totally correct condition, the paintwork is older and the tan leather interior is in lovely condition.
This Countach represents the best of what was being made in Italy in the 70s. Marcello Gandini's sculptural drawing will always remain in the history of international design as a stroke of genius, a work of art which, incidentally, is also useful for moving at incredulous speeds! This breathtaking and highly desirable "Periscopio" is the very essence of design, the "personified" representation of speed. The model was later weighed down by aerodynamic devices in vogue during the 1980s. This LP400 version is also extremely rare since the number of examples built was just over 150.
As the only Periscopio to be produced in this sublime colour combination, and with a history linking it to a flamboyant and extravagant enthusiast, this car has huge appeal for all supercar fanatics.
Participating in the auction on this lot is subject to a special registration process. If you would like to bid on this lot, please get in touch with the bidding office or the motorcars department at least 48 hours before the sale.
Photos © Peter Singhof
Auction estimate: €900 000 / 1 100 000