No other car saysmake that screams”exotic” in the way that Lamborghini’s Countach does. No car has been more photographed or more lusted after. From its ultra-sleek wedge profile, with its proliferation of vents, scallops and scoops, to the scissor-style doors and mammoth rear wing (on later models), this car has been the rolling embodiment of excess for three decades. As conspicuous as its styling was the Countach’s longevity. The original prototype LP5000 (“LP” for “longitudinale posteriore,” denoting the longitudinal orientation of the rear-mounted engine, and “5000” being the displacement in cubic centimeters) exploded onto the scene at the 1971 Geneva auto show to a rapturous reception. It took until 1974 (and two more prototypes) for all the bugs to be worked out, mainly by abandoning the prototype’s mostly magnesium 5.0L V12 for the proven 4.0L unit that Lamborghini had been installing in the Miura for a number of years, at which point the car went into limited production as the LP400. It stayed in production, enjoying a number of style and engineering updates, until 1990, giving it one of the longest runs ever for an exotic car.
TO DIE (CAST) FOR
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If we were to pick a word to describe Kyosho’s philosophy when it comes to die-cast, it would be “thorough.” Its line of 1:18 Lamborghini Countachs illustrates this with several distinct models and numerous color combinations; each representing a stage in the Countach’s development. Though not cited anywhere by Kyosho, the line chronicles not only the Countach but also the involvement of the car’s most famous owner and benefactorWalter Wolf (see “Big Bad Wolf’s” sidebar).
Shown here are five of Kyosho’s Countachs. Taken chronologically, first up is the green carthe third and final Countach prototype that was unveiled at the 1973 Paris Auto Show. This car was meant to represent the final production configuration, and it was used in Lamborghini’s first sales brochures for the Countach. It differs from the production version only in the side glass, front bumper and interior trim. The white car is a model of the third production LP400Walter Wolf’s first, to which he had fitted an experimental, roof-mounted, power-adjustable wing and had the side mirrors removed. The solid red car (no wing) is a standard production LP400. The red and blue cars with black fenders are LP400s that Wolf had modified, and that became the development mules for the S model (see “Big Bad Wolf’s” sidebar).
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Exterior. Marcello Gandini’s styling defined the Countach, and Kyosho certainly does it justice. With such a low-slung, angular shape, the Countach’s stance is everything. The prototype and non-S cars have a taller, chunkier look, mainly due to their narrower tires, smaller wheels and lack of a chin spoiler. The absence of fender flares and rear wing give the older cars a simpler, if not exactly clean profile, while the S cars look more menacing. The green prototype’s metallic window trim and the asymmetrical front grille look busy, and both were dropped for production. Also dropped were the oddly shaped two-piece side windows, which were replaced by three-piece glass.
Kyosho does a fine job of replicating the Countachs angular lines and subtle curves. The gap spacing is pretty good, though the alignmentespecially around the flip-up headlightsvaries from car to car. When exposed (by a button on the right front undercarriage), the molded headlight lenses and chrome bezels look realistic enough. Of course, displaying this model with the headlights flipped up is akin to photographing Elle Macpherson with curlers in her hair, so you are unlikely to raise them after your initial inspection.
The trim paint is fine and even on all the cars, and the flat black used in the various vents, screens and NACA ducts gives the cars depth. The primary finish on these cars ranges from decent to excellent, depending on the color and example. The blue and green cars present very well, while the white car tends to show smudges and blemishes more (as is the nature of white). The red cars are more problematic: there was some slight unevenness in the paint, and both seem more prone to being scuffed. The friction of the tie-downs Kyosho uses for shipping dulled the finish on one. None of this shows when you look at the car from a distance, but get up close and flaws become evident. Badgingthe charging bull on the noses, the Bertone emblems on the sides, and the text on the rear panelsis quite sharp on all models.