Half a million for a scruffy ’80s Lambo?
It’s the quintessential supercar, a symbol of ’80s excess, and an Italian icon. I can’t say much about the Lamborghini Countach that hasn’t already been said, but it’s a car most enthusiasts have dreamed of, driven in a video game, or hung on their wall in poster form.
Everybody wants one of these OG Lambo wedges, but fewer than 2000 were built over 16 years (1974–90). For reference, Lamborghini sold more Huracáns in 2021 alone. No wonder median values for Countaches in #2 (Excellent) condition are up over 350 percent since 2012, and even the most ramshackle examples post sales well into six figures.
The very last live auction on our radar for this year has wrapped up, held at the Bonhams HQ on New Bond St. in London. This £460,000 ($559,728) Countach was the biggest surprise—partly for its sale price, and partly because it sold for so much despite being, well, a bit scruffy.
The prototype Countach became an instant star upon its debut at the Geneva Motor Show in 1971. Marcello Gandini’s dramatic, geometric shape and the scissor doors immediately became a part of Lambo DNA. Nobody had seen anything like the Countach. Even ten years later, when this LP400S model was built, this bull still looked like it came from a sci-fi movie set in the future.
The first major revision of the Countach came with the LP400S. Influenced by a Countach that was specially modified by Dallara and Canadian race team owner Walter Wolf, the LP400S got revised suspension geometry and other mechanical improvements.
Its most obvious changes, however, were on the outside: fiberglass fender flares, wider and newer “phone dial” wheels, Pirelli P7 tires, and eventually an optional rear wing the size of a picnic table.
It’s this facelifted version that most people imagine when they hear the word “Countach.” For you movie buffs, it was a black LP400S that starred (and won the race) in 1981’s The Cannonball Run.
The tacked-on bits didn’t actually make the car any faster, and performance from the 4.0-liter V-12 engine didn’t improve, but in the world of loud, brash supercars, sometimes it’s more important for a car to look faster than it is to actually be faster. More power finally arrived with the 4.8-liter LP5000S in 1982.
The LP400S that sold this past week was delivered new in Italy, ordered in Blu Acapulco over Senape (mustard) leather, although it is believed to have received gray leather instead. It spent some time in California, but was first registered in the U.K. in 1988 and entered its latest ownership in 1989.
Its presentation was honest and up front, but the car is far from great. The fiberglass body pieces appear dull and one fender flare has a crack. Bonhams also noted that the ventilation, lights, and fans might require attention, as well as wear in suspension joints, cracking old tires, light surface rust on the chassis, and a clattering noise from the engine at idle, likely from timing chains in need of adjustment.
A car in need of some TLC, then. But the hammer fell way past the £240,000–£340,000 presale estimate, and the final price is nearly 100 grand more than the LP400S’s condition #1 (Concours, or best-in-the-world) value in the Hagerty UK Price Guide.
Nicer Countaches have sold for less, but these cars aren’t common in any condition and, like I said, everybody wants one.
Two other less-than-perfect raging bulls, a 1969 Miura P400 S and a 2001 Diablo VT 6.0 SE, also sold well at this auction, so there were plenty of Lambo-hungry eyes in the room at Bond St.
As for the rest of the sale, results were a little more mixed. Bonhams’ event was relatively small with fewer than 30 cars, and although six of them sold at bids over their high estimates, eight cars failed to sell, despite over half of the auction being no-reserve.
Is the Bond St. sale part of the “cooling off” we’ve seen in recent weeks? Will we see similar results in the new year? We’ll have to wait until the mega-auctions in January to find out.
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It doesn’t look too “scruffy” to me!
In the late 80s my brother and I were valets at a yacht club in the NE USA. We drove these Lambos all the time. They were SO cool to see and even cooler to be seen in, but even when we were 18-20 years old, you could tell from valeting other exotic rides, these cars sucked. You couldn’t see anything out of them, the steering was suspect, and there were plenty of other cars that were conspicuously faster. Plus, getting in and out of the thing was a process. The drop off point for the folks arriving was about 3/4 of a mile from where we would park the cars. If you were lucky, one of the exotics cars would have an owner who was going out on the water. We would put the lambos and ferraris up front, and then when the owner went out, we would move the cars to the lot. Of course we waited for the boats to leave – you could hear a lambo across the water a long way when you stood on it. Then we would be told that the owner would be back at say 6pm, so at 5:15 we would repeat the process, bring the car back, put it up front, and it would be no issues. Some guys would check the odometer, but 1.5 miles doesn’t really catch your eye lol
Me thinking I’ll someday have a really special car that’s depreciated… forever, just thinking… and working normal jobs. Meanwhile, some 25 year old that bought crypto and posts instagram pictures has a Lambo or two. Maybe I could get a lucrative overseas energy consultancy job… doesn’t seem like you need much experience… not sure I know the right big guy though.
Back in the later 1980s I was fortunate to have found a Countach for sale at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, IL. The car happened to have belonged to Walter Peyton. It was a White/Red car selling for a mere 42,000! It was a beautiful car but I immediately the noticed the frigidity of the fiberglass body parts. I was allowed to sit in the but wouldn’t have bought it even if I had the money because getting in and out of the car took a lot of physical effort. The Countach is truly a one-of-a-kind car but it definitely isn’t the average man’s concept of a sports car!
Not a perfect example from what is mentioned but still not in bad condition wither. These cars are just going to do well regardless of condition.
Awesome cars, sure a turbo 5.0 foxbody is way faster, but these are just oh so cool. I like the ‘big guy’ comment above too. Clever.
At 560K that is a STEAL! Yeah go find another! The article doesn’t say the exact year and whether it is a series 1 2 or 3, they have different production runs which can effect their value. Many Lambo experts feel the series 2 is the most desirable. I have a series 2 and it is just a few serial numbers away from the Cannonball Run car owned by Ron Rice, founder of Hawaiin Tropic. Ron was my neighbor when I lived in Ormond Beach, Florida. He had an oceanfront mansion and I lived down the sidestreet.
I never thought I’d see “scruffy’ and ‘Lambo’ in the same title.
I remember many years ago watching an auction where a Countach came up and went for a fraction of this price. The commentator said at the time “it really takes a special buyer for the Countach……..and THERE HE IS” as the camera zoomed in on a gentleman with an open shirt, very hairy chest and scraggly hair with a large gold chain necklace……perfect and hilarious at the time.
I followed the link to the auction. Not much verbiage but a ton of pictures and it does not look scruffy especially for a 40 year old car. It is a 1981 and it had the Chasis number and it us a series 2 of which only 105 where produced. Even though it is in UK it is left hand drive. It did not give mileage. Maybe it is high mileage which held price back as I would have expected it to go for a LOT more.