Lamborghini CountachEnlarge Photo
As a teenager, my walls were decorated with iconic symbols of speed. Fine examples of motor sculpture from Lotus Esprits to Ford GTs, the usual assembly of Porsche 911s, the iconic Porsche 959.
But none held more fascination than the gorgeous deep red Lamborghini Countach 5000 Quattrovalvole. Photographed in side profile with the magnificent rear deck spoiler, blacked-out windows and the five-hole wide alloy rims. The image was enhanced by the voluptuous naked blonde stretched from popup headlight to top of windshield, her left leg positioned decorously, her whole body in perfect contrast to the brutal shape of the Countach beneath.
Indeed, beauty and the beast.
But the Lamborghini was more than just the singular embodiment of passion. It was brilliance, from the 5.2-liter V-12, to the exotic scissor doors, the recumbent driving position, and the gaping black intakes forward of the rear wheel arches, one to calm the massive brakes, the other to feed the voracious appetite of the V-12 inches from the driver's head.
In time I finally got to drive this beast, wrestling the industrial-strength steering while extending calf and thigh muscles to engage the clutch. Knowing I was inches from passing pavement and inches from the cacophony of twelve exuberant Italian pistons all helping the realization that there is no better fun with your clothes on.
So it was in 1985, the Sydney Motor Show promised no other than this car. With great excitement, the day became closer, made more thrilling by the agreement of the love-du-jour to accompany me on this excursion. She, like the Countach, was a great beauty, though with more curved surface.
The Sydney Show ground hosted the affair and impatiently I made my way through family sedans, pickups and other vehicular paraphernalia till the car lay before us. Deep blue in color with the wing shadowing the rear deck (and cutting off all rear vision from the ridiculously small rear window). The engine cover open to reveal the 450-bhp, 5.2-liter, four-overhead-cam alloy block engine with the six Weber downdraft carburetors.
This European-specification car (the American cars were given Bosch K-tronic fuel injection) the carburetors were mounted on top of the engine, making the engine bay more elegant for their inclusion. The massive 12-inch rear rubber only just maintains a ground clearance for the car of around five inches, making speed humps and driveways a challenge.
Standing in front of it, time stopped. The pop-up headlights arrogantly suggested that lesser vehicles clear the road ahead. The sharp raked nose and flared front wheel arches were good not just for simply slipping through the air ahead but rather ripping and tearing at it like a savage beast. The slight rise of the passenger cabin, a contrast to the angular exterior, was clad in soft cream leather, rows of switchery and highlights in chrome.
That previously mentioned rear end was where the business end of transportation at 200 mph was accomplished. Extraordinary.
Delicately wiping a trail of drool from the corner of my mouth, girlfriend of the day did the only thing possible. She kissed me. Kissed me in a way the blue low-slung machine in front of me never could. The world rocked back on its axis and grudgingly resumed spinning. The sound of the crowds came back into focus, the Lamborghini tunnel vision receded. She smiled, took me by the hand and led me away.
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