The unique 1971 LP 500 which previewed the production car was destroyed in a crash test, but it lives on in this official recreation
Lamborghini did the unthinkable at the 1971 Geneva Motor Show, unveiling a supercar that looked just as dramatic – if not more so – than the celebrated Miura. This was the LP 500 Countach, and it’s quite unlike the production car that followed.
The styling was very different, and it wasn’t built in the same way, using only a partial space frame rather than a full one. The LP500 was the starting point for a supercar legend that spanned two and a half decades, making it one of the most important cars in Lamborghini’s history. You might think, then, that it’s proudly displayed at the company’s museum in Sant Agata Bolognese, but sadly that’s not the case. It was destroyed.
Following its moment under the spotlights in Switzerland, the LP 500 was used for Countach development, trying out V12 engines of various sizes before undergoing a crash test at the MIRA proving grounds in the UK. That was in March 1974, and no one seems to know what happened to the remains after that.
Thanks to an unnamed collector and their millions, not to mention many thousands of hours of work from Lamborghini’s ‘Polo Storico’ in-house restoration team, LP 500 lives again. Well, spiritually – the car you see here is a ground-up recreation of that car.
It’s been a long time coming, with the client making the request way back in late 2017. Around 25,000 hours of work followed, a chunk of which involved collecting documents, drawings and photos to ensure the brand, spanking-new LP 500 is as close to the original as possible. It took 2,000 hours alone to settle on the shape of the car.
It’s built from a mixture of original Lamborghini spare parts, restored components from the period, and a lot of stuff that was rebuilt from scratch. One component more than any other illustrates the attention to detail, and that’s the tyres.
Lamborghini worked together with Pirelli to recreate the long discontinued Cinturato CN12 boots the LP 500 once wore. Using the original plans dug out of the archives at the Fondazione Pirelli (Pirelli Foundation), the Italian company manufactured a set of the 245/60/14 front/265/60/14 rear tyres with the old tread pattern but with a 2020s-spec compound and structure.
The car has been entered into the concepts category at this weekend’s Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este in Cernobbio, Italy, coinciding with Lamborghini’s 50th-anniversary celebrations for the Countach. It’s unclear how many public outings it’ll get after this, but we’re hoping it won’t just be tucked away in a collection, never to be seen again. Given the fate of the original, that’d be a damn shame.