|PRICE:||$50.00 from the LHS|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
The Countach was styled by Marcello Gandini of the Bertone design studio, the same designer and studio that designed the Miura. Gandini was then a young, inexperienced designer—not very experienced in the practical, ergonomic aspects of automobile design, but at the same time unhindered by them. He produced a quite striking design. The Countach shape was wide and low (42.1 inches), but not very long (only 163 inches). Its angular and wedge-shaped body was made almost entirely of flat, trapezoidal panels. There were curves, notably the smoothly coke-bottle wing line, but the overall appearance was sharp.
The doors, a Countach trademark, were scissor doors: hinged at the front with horizontal hinges, so that the doors lifted up and tilted forwards. The main reason is the car's tubular spaceframe chassis results in very high and wide door sills. It was also partly for style, and partly because the width of the car made conventional doors impossible to use in an even slightly confined space. Care needed to be taken, though, in opening the doors with a low roof overhead. The car's poor rear visibility and wide sills led to drivers adopting a method of reversing the car for parking by opening the door, sitting on the sill, and reversing while looking over the back of the car from outside.)
The pure style of the prototype was progressively enhanced or cluttered (depending on one's point of view) by the evolution of the car to improve its performance, handling, tractability, and ability to meet mandated requirements. This began with the first production model, which included several vents which were found to be necessary to cool the engine adequately. These included the iconic NACA duct on the door and rear fender of each side of the car. The car design changes ended with a large engine vent directly behind the driver, reducing the rear view. Later additions, including fender flares, spoilers, carburetor covers, and bumpers, progressively changed the aesthetic values of the car.
The Countach's styling and visual impression caused it to become an icon of great design to almost everyone except automotive engineers. The superior performance characteristics of later Lamborghini models (such as the Diablo, or the Murciélago) appealed to performance car drivers and engineers, but they never had the originality or outrageousness that gave the Countach its distinction. The different impressions left by the various Lamborghini models have generated numerous debates and disagreements over what constitutes 'classic' or 'great' automotive design (elegant looks and style, vs. technical and engineering superiority).
The rear wheels were driven by a traditional Lamborghini V12 engine mounted longitudinally with a mid-engined configuration. This contrasted with the Miura, on which the centrally mounted engine had been installed transversely. For better weight distribution, the engine is pointed 'backwards'; the output shaft is at the front, and the gearbox is in front of the engine, the driveshaft running back through the engine's sump to a differential at the rear. Although originally planned as a 5 liter powerplant, the first production cars used the Lamborghini Miura's 4 liter engine. Later advances increased the displacement to 5 liters and then (in the "Quattrovalvole" model) 5.2 L with four valves per cylinder.
All Lamborghini Countaches were equipped with six Weber carburetors until the arrival of the 5000QV model, at which time the car became available in America, and used Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection. The European models, however, continued to use the carburetors (producing more power than Fuel Injected cars) until the arrival of the Lamborghini Diablo, which replaced the legendary Countach.
The Countach used a skin of aircraft-grade aluminum over a tubular space frame, as in a racing car. This is expensive to build but is immensely strong and very light (in spite of its size, the car weighs approximately 1,400 kg (3,100 lb). The underbody tray was fiberglass.
This was one of those, "Hey, what is this and how much?" sort of deals. I'm a bit of a sucker for large scale car kits, though I think it was probably 35 years ago that I last built one (a Tamiya 1/12 F.1 kit).
The kit has nine sprues of varying sizes molded in white, black, dark grey, clear, chrome and aluminum. The body measures 10 inches in length so this is not a small kit. Four superbly molded rubber tires are included as are springs (for the suspension), wire (for the engine), screws (to hold the wheel on the hub) and other metal bits (mainly for the doors).
This is not the original Countach so there are bits for the upgraded aero package. I'm thinking that if one really knows their cars, this may be able to be built as the 1971 car, but I don't so wouldn't want to attempt it. It is probably no surprise that much of the construction deals with the engine and the attached rear suspension. The car has two shocks per wheel in the rear and this is where the shorter of the six metal springs are used. The other two are for the front suspension.
Many of the engine parts are chrome plated as you'd expect. I also suspect that in reality these are aluminum so it may be worth repainting these. Besides, one is going to destroy the plating when removing mold seams anyway. As mentioned, the kit includes wire for the plugs with the instructions providing a proper wiring diagram. The interior is only lacking seat belts to be very convincing. For the body, the aero package is separately added on with everything from the front spoiler to the wider wheel arches and the wing simply being butt glued to the body.
The instructions are in Japanese, of course, but the drawings are really well done with all 39 construction steps being easy to follow. A rather unique addition to these instructions is that there are flow charts on each of the pages showing not only where the various construction steps are added, but the parts that go into each step. Only building will tell if this is useful or not. One thing for sure, the builder will need to study things quite carefully to see how he is going to paint the body without other subassemblies interfering. I like to paint all body parts at one time and together, though it may well be difficult if not impossible to do with this one. We'll see. The small decal sheet is basically instruments and logos. It would be nice to have belts as part of the decal sheet, but it isn't and that is that.
This is really a well detailed kit, especially for one that is well over 20 years old (1987, remember?). Those who like their car models larger than most will be well rewarded in their quest to seek this one out.
January 2011 Once again, you can thank me
for getting this one. If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please
me or see other details in the
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Once again, you can thank me for getting this one.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
Back to the Main Page
Back to the Previews Index Page