It's not an exaggeration to say the Lamborghini Countach LP500 concept car changed the world when it debuted at the Geneva Auto Show in March 1971. Marcello Gandini's wedge-shape design was unlike anything else out there, an almost unbelievable replacement for the groundbreaking Miura, and the styling remained nearly unchanged by the time the production Countach came out in 1974. Sadly, after three years of being used as a development car for the production model, the sole LP500 was lost after being used for crash testing in 1974.
Fast forward to 2017, when a prominent (and unnamed) car collector approached Lamborghini'swith the desire to recreate the Countach LP500 from scratch. Presumably said collector arrived at their meeting with a Looney Tunes bag full of cash, because Lamborghini said yes. The project is finally complete, with the reconstructed LP500 making its debut at Villa d'Esta this weekend after 25,000 hours of work. And as you can see in Lamborghini's emotional video, it's fully functional.
As with the car itself, many important documents and items related to the original concept were lost over time. The Polo Storico team relied on photographs, original design drawings, meeting reports, contemporary stories and memories of those who worked on the car.
A 1:1 scale styling model was created in 1971 as part of the development process, and while that model itself also no longer exists, the team was able to use homologation documents and photos to "reconstruct the mathematics" necessary to build the scale model, a huge help for creating the new car itself. Two thousand hours were spent on creating the final model that would be used as the basis of the recreation. Lamborghini also did a digital 3D scan of the first production Countach LP400 ever built, chassis 001, which is part of Lamborghini's collection.
Unlike the production Countach, which used a tube frame, the LP500 used a platform chassis that needed to be redesigned from scratch. Polo Storico decided to use production methods that would have been employed in 1971 to remain faithful to the original. That extended to the bodywork and interior, too -- modern tech was used for analysis and to get the forms correct, but the sheet metal was then created by hand. Lamborghini used as many spare or restored parts as possible, though some components needed to be rebuilt from scratch.
Even the tires were faithfully recreated. Lamborghini worked with Pirelli to make a new set of the Cinturato C12 tires that were fitted on the concept, possible thanks to Fondazione Pirelli's archives containing original photos and materials. The tires are now a part of Pirelli's Collezione range, which offers vintage tire designs created with modern technology, compounds and structure. The tires are sized 245/60R14 at the front and 265/60R14 at the rear. In a similar vein, the Giallo Fly Speciale yellow paint composition was recreated with the help of PPG's archives.
This recreation is especially poignant given this year is the 50th anniversary of the LP500's debut, a milestone also marked by this summer's debut of the new. "The LP500 is of paramount importance to Lamborghini because it gave rise to the design DNA of all subsequent models," said Mitja Borkert, head of Lamborghini design, with CEO Stephan Winkelmann adding that the ability to see the LP500 in person again was "something extraordinary." The LP500 will be on display in the concept class of the Concorso d'Eleganza Villa d'Este, which kicks off on Oct. 2 on the shores of Lake Como in Italy.