Lamborghini introduced Countach LP5000 prototype at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971. The car was styled by Marcello Gandini of the Bertone design studio. Marcello Gandini was the same man who had also designed the Lamborghini Miura. The Countach prototype had a striking design. The car’s shape was wide and low, but not very long. One of the Countach’s trademarks were the scissor doors. The front hinged scissor doors were stylish, but there was also a practical reason. The car’s tubular spaceframe chassis meant that the door sills were very high and wide, which made it a bit difficult to get out of the car. And because of the width of the car, the conventional doors would have been impossible to use in a confined space.
The Lamborghini Countach prototype looked like a futuristic show car, but the car was not just a design study. Instead, Lamborghini was going to put the car into production. However, a lot work were still needed, before this could happen. The show car was only a prototype and its 5.0-litre engine blew up on the first tests. Because of the problems with the 5.0-litre powerplant, Lamborghini decided to return to use the 4.0-liter unit. The engine cooling was another major problem. With the horizontally mounted radiators, the engine immediately overheated. Therefore, the entire cooling system was changed. The new vertically mounted radiators were getting air through two scoops and two NACA ducts behind the doors. The body design was changed for the production version, but the car still looked very much like the prototype that Marcello Gandini had designed.
After three years of development work, the Countach was finally ready. The production model of the Lamborghini Countach LP400 was shown at the 1974 Geneva Motor Show. The car had a 4.0-litre V12 engine producing 375 horsepower. The engine was mounted longitudinally with a mid-engined configuration. The engine’s power was delivered to the rear wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox. The Countach LP400 had quite narrow tires for a sports car, but their narrowness and the slick styling meant that this version had the lowest drag coefficient of any Countach model and possibly the highest top speed. Lamborghini Countach LP400 could accelerate from zero to hundred in 5,6 seconds and the top speed was over 300 km/h.
Lamborghini built little over 150 units of the LP400 between 1974 and 1977, before it was replaced by the Countach LP400 S.