The builder of the world's best known supercar came from humble beginnings. Ferruccio Lamborghini was born to a farming family in 1918 in a small rural village in northern Italy. Growing up near the factories of Ferrari and Maserati, he was infected with an enthusiasm for cars of all types, but particularly fast cars. Realizing they could never make a farmer out of him, his parents sent him to a technical high school where he excelled. During World War II, he enlisted in the Italian Army and worked in the transport pool maintaining vehicles.
After the war there was a shortage of tractors for agriculture. Ferruccio began searching the salvage yards for engines and other parts that could be used to build tractors. He began assembling these parts into tractors and sold them to local farmers. His endeavor prospered and in 1949 he founded the Lamborghini Trattrice Company and began manufacturing tractors. In ten years he was very wealthy, with diversified factories producing not only tractors but also air conditioning units and fuel oil burners. However, fast cars were his passion!
In the early 1960's he began designing cars which were more exotic than the Ferrari or Maserati. He hired the best engineers and designers from Ferrari. The result was the beginning of the ultimate supercars.
Supercars are judged in three areas - design, engine, and performance. In 1971, the Countach was the first supercar unleashed on the world and production began in 1974. It was considered the best in all three areas.
The wedge-shape design was radically exotic. The engine was transversely mounted in the center of the car. The frame was an advanced tubular-space frame chassis covered by aluminum panels. The doors opened upward and the car had a futuristic look.
The 12 cylinder, 4 liter engine was increased to 5.2 liters with 4 valves per cylinder in 1986. It produced 455 horsepower. The engine was a masterpiece of engineering. Power was transferred to the rear axle by a five-speed manual transmission.
The performance was unmatched by any road car in 1974. And even today the Countach ranks as one of the world’s fastest production cars. With proper gearing, the 5000 Quattrovalvole model can exceed 200 mph! Zero to 60 mph times are reported in the four-second range.
The 5000 Quattrovalvole was introduced in 1986 and was produced until 1988. During this time only 610 were built. The anniversary model was produced from 1988 to 1990 with a total of 650 units being built. The Countach was replaced in 1990 by the all new Diablo.
The 5000 Quattrovalvole is considered the most desirable model of the Countach due to its engineering refinements and increased power as well as its low production numbers. With careful research, good low-mileage examples can be found in the $100,000 to $125,000 price range. These cars are considered good investments since only 610 were built and some have been destroyed.