Countach

Author
Discussion

carspath

753 posts

139 months

Saturday 1st August 2020
quotequote all
The pre production Countachs (not the prototype LP500 Countach ) that preceded the production LP400 cars - had a CD of 0. 42 .
Pretty dire even for the early 1970s .
That extreme wedge profile was very misleading .

The Countach,s aerodynamics was honed in the wind tunnel at Turin Polytechnic , and on the road using wool tufts and high speed photography .

I have dedicated a whole chapter to aerodynamics in my forthcoming Countach book for 2 reasons :

1) Aerodynamics is so fundamental to any car , more so in a car with the Countach,s high speed potential . And yet authors don’t discuss this critical subject enough .

2) The Countach was pretty much cutting edge for a road car in 1971/2 , in being the subject of any serious aerodynamic study at all . Getting wind tunnel time then was difficult and expensive , just as it is now .

Edited by carspath on Saturday 1st August 16:49

cgt2

1,698 posts

150 months

Saturday 1st August 2020
quotequote all
carspath said:
The pre production Countachs (not the prototype LP500 Countach ) that preceded the production LP400 cars - had a CD of 0. 42 .
Pretty dire even for the early 1970s .
That extreme wedge profile was very misleading .

The Countach,s aerodynamics was honed in the wind tunnel at Turin Polytechnic , and on the road using wool tufts and high speed photography .

I have dedicated a whole chapter to aerodynamics in my forthcoming Countach book for 2 reasons :

1) Aerodynamics is so fundamental to any car , more so in a car with the Countach,s high speed potential . And yet authors don’t discuss this critical subject enough .

2) The Countach was pretty much cutting edge for a road car in 1971/2 , in being the subject of any serious aerodynamic study at all . Getting wind tunnel time then was difficult and expensive , just as it is now .

Edited by carspath on Saturday 1st August 16:49
Look forward to buying a copy

orangeLP400

343 posts

165 months

Saturday 1st August 2020
quotequote all
carspath said:
The pre production Countachs (not the prototype LP500 Countach ) that preceded the production LP400 cars - had a CD of 0. 42 .
Pretty dire even for the early 1970s .
That extreme wedge profile was very misleading .

The Countach,s aerodynamics was honed in the wind tunnel at Turin Polytechnic , and on the road using wool tufts and high speed photography .

I have dedicated a whole chapter to aerodynamics in my forthcoming Countach book for 2 reasons :

1) Aerodynamics is so fundamental to any car , more so in a car with the Countach,s high speed potential . And yet authors don’t discuss this critical subject enough .

2) The Countach was pretty much cutting edge for a road car in 1971/2 , in being the subject of any serious aerodynamic study at all . Getting wind tunnel time then was difficult and expensive , just as it is now .

Edited by carspath on Saturday 1st August 16:49
Yes this may be true although who put the Countach in a wind tunnel to come up with this figure?

And secondly it is all relative, so a bullet, and the bullet train can have the same CD. But one will need a lot more power to travel at the same speed as the wind resistance will be massively greater.

Being so low roof wise, and especially the narrow tyres on an LP400 , the car presents a smallish obstical to the air.

It's easier to push even a brick through the air than the most areodynamic SUV.

I agree , in that I am sure the car is not great on the areodynamic stakes as it was styled to look good and ergonomics and aerodynamics were not the issue . The tests done perhaps pertained more to down force and cooling than he CD.

But it is precisely because the areodynamics were to some extent ignored that we got the amazing car we all love. If it had been more aeroynamic it may have looked different and been ignored.

In short, the impact it has had over decades make the CD matter interesting but incidental to the story.


cgt2

1,698 posts

150 months

Saturday 1st August 2020
quotequote all
Indeed, I do remember Horacio conducted quite extensive wind tunnel testing for the Evoluzione, particularly around the front splitter and side intakes.

carspath

753 posts

139 months

Saturday 1st August 2020
quotequote all
Stephen ( orange LP400 ) - great to hear from you again on this forum
In answer to your questions :


Stanzani and to a lesser extent Gandini under the auspices of Lamborghini utilized the Turin Polytechnic wind tunnel .


The CdA is the key real life numeric that differentiates between your bullet and your brick .
The ''A '' is the frontal area that the car presents to the oncoming airstream .
Again , despite its shallow raked windscreen , the Countach does badly here - at least for a 1970's car .
As you appear to suggest , the cars that followed on from the LP400 had poorer CdA figures .


Cooling issues plagued the Countach from the onset - you know that more than i do - and forced Stanzani and Bob Wallace to modify Gandini's masterpiece .
Reclusive Gandini , whom most expected to throw a fit at his smooth , sleek LP500 being transmuted into the vented , ducted and elephant-eared LP400 , apparently accepted these unavoidable and necessary additions without any complaint at all .


Totally agree that the Countach's appearance was, and remains , its killer attraction .
As an 8 year old , it was all that attracted me to this car .
To this day , no other car is as attractive to my eyes .


Re downforce , Stanzani was never after downforce .
Rather he was chasing after its alter ego - a lack of lift .
Front end lift was a major issue with the Miura , and one of the key design objectives for its successor was to eliminate , or at least substantially reduce this .

The front bonnet of the Countach prototype was recessed to achieve this objective , but it actually overcompensated in eliminating the sort of front end lift seen in the Miura , and a non-recessed bonnet was used in the later cars .



Interestingly , neither Stanzani nor Gandini were trained aerodynamicists , but the project leader for the Countach's nemesis , the Testarossa , was an aerodynamicist first and foremost .
The Redhead had much better aerodynamics than the LP500S , and Alfieri had to find a lot of extra power to compensate for this , and he did so by adopting a 4 valve per cylinder engine design .




cgt2 : thanks for the vote of confidence . It's an ongoing job , which was temporarily derailed by this blasted virus , but is now back on course and about 85% complete . Pagani was so intimately involved with both the Evoluzione and the Anniversary , and of course also designed the side strakes on the 88 1/2 .

In 2012 , I met him at his old factory , and asked him to sign a copy of the Dron Countach book on the page that featured a full colour photograph of Chassis 12399 .
He immediately honed in on the side strakes of this 88 1/2 and said , through his interpreter , that he had designed these strakes .


Edited by carspath on Saturday 1st August 23:07

Martin350

3,491 posts

157 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
carspath said:
in my forthcoming Countach book
Please let us know when this is available.
I have many Countach books and another wouldn't hurt! smile

supersport

3,179 posts

189 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
I am also looking forward to it.

Really enjoyed the Murci book and just started the x-bow book.

orangeLP400

343 posts

165 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all

Carspath you are quite right of course and I must stop typing on a little tablet with one finger while watching TV especially Chasing Classic Cars with Wayne, as the programme is just up my street and gets most of my attention , unless he is going on about muscle cars.

But to clarify, I do recall the Countach being wind tested but it was a wooden scale model so I think I am allowed to be a little suspect.

It has a poor CD as you say. It is an aerodynamicist's( with a model of a tear drop on his desk), brutalist nightmare! And I am sure the ears and ducts do not help.

But oh, does it not look like it cuts through the air like a sharp blade? my point was it looks aerodynamic!

As for the Testarossa, I owned one for a year or so and it was often parked next to the Countach so I had the opportunity to compare them. It always seemed bigger and fatter than the Countach and awkward in shape although mine really drove well. I do struggle to see why it has a low CD but what do I know? I sold it because it just did not speak to me but I shouldn't have as it shot up in value soon afterwards.

Looking forward to your book.

paulguitar

10,081 posts

75 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
I've been enjoying reading through this thread. I remember being obsessed with the Countach as a kid, and I also remember my first real-life sighting. It's burned into my memory as if it happened yesterday. It was at Silverstone, British GP day in 1988, and I saw two white Countaches parked next to each other, one with rear wing and one without. I almost fell over, I was so excited!


I had this photo framed in my bedroom back then:



Ian.C

24 posts

141 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
In response to the aerodynamics, I feel it is important to assess within the context of the day.
Bertone and Lamborghini had considered and tested the aerodynamic performance and based on written reports considered it satisfactory.
Bertone produced a scale model used for wind tunnel testing and Stanzani and others I am sure gave much thought to the issue.
The car had to sell firstly on its styling and thereafter on top speed.
The top speed of the LP 400 was near 180mph (Auto Motor under Sport recorded 179mph ) so pretty adequate by standards of the day.
The drag factor became more of an issue when the S arrived as with increased drag and frontal area including wider tyres and wing the car struggled to achieve 150 mph.
When Chrysler took over and the 200mph barrier had to be achieved, the drag coefficient had to then to be optimised.
Out of interest the E type S1 fhc was tested in the MIRA wind tunnel in 1982 and I believe recorded a figure of 0.489.

carspath

753 posts

139 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
Martin 350 and supersport -- thank you very much for the encouragement .
It is a labour of love, and not always easy , especially as Covid-19 has wrecked so much havoc with the publishing industry .
The most enjoyable thing has been meeting the dying breed of Italian gentlemen who were directly involved with the Countach - Stanzani , Marchesi and Dallara .
And they all had one thing in common - a gentle generosity of spirit , and politeness .
Ditto Tonino Lamborghini , who has written a whole chapter for the book .
It was great to see this same spirit continuing in Tonino's son , Ferruccio .




I spent some time at Dallara's R&D facility just outside Parma for the KTM X-BOW book , and the work ethic there was incredible .
Dallara at 80+ still works a 10 hour day , 6 days a week .
His Academy was about to be opened about a month after our visit , and i briefly flirted with the idea of taking some time off to do a course there .
Well that flirtation lasted all of about 30 seconds as the minimum requirement was a PhD or equivalent in aerodynamics or mechanical engineering .
Even Cambridge does not have such a concentration of PhDs per unit area , i think .


Stephen ( orange LP400 ) - we all seem to browse through and type on PH while doing something else - in my case often late at night after or while being entertained by a bottle !
You are of course entirely right - a full scale Countach was never put in a wind tunnel - at least not by Lamborghini during its development phase .

Gandini gives 2 reasons for this : firstly the majority of the design work on the Countach shape took place over a 12 week period , and there was simply no more time available to spend on aerodynamic study . Secondly , the wind tunnel at Turin Polytechnic was too small for a full size car .

The photos that i have seen are of a white scale model that closely resembles the LP500 prototype undergoing an ink spot test in the Turin wind tunnel .

The oft quoted Cd figure of 0.42 needs to be taken with a huge pinch of salt .
The white scale model looks unlike any production Countach .
I regard it purely as a comparison point , and in the book I have quoted the Cd figures for other cars so that the reader can get an idea of how well or poorly the Countach does in this regard relative to other supercars .

Wallace and Stanzani were convinced that they had an aerodynamic winner on their hands almost immediately after their first drive in the LP500 prototype .
Not because it was aerodynamically efficient in terms of low drag , but because it did not exhibit any signs of front or rear end lift in real world high speed testing .
Wallace has been quoted as saying that there was never any rear end lift in any of the early Countach variants to warrant it having a rear wing .
Stanzani was delighted that there was no front end lift as in the Miura .

Wool tuft and high speed photography testing was done on the LP500 prototype and on the pre-production cars

Interesting to know that wind tunnel testing is now going out of fashion in favour of virtual computer simulation testing .
A large part of the KTM X-BOW's development was done in this way ( although conventional testing was also performed ) ,but now quite a few of the major manufacturers , including the VW-Audi-Lambo- etc conglomerate use a virtual simulation package called Powerflow (developed by Exa) which is not only cheaper , but apparently yields quicker and more accurate results than conventional wind tunnel testing .


carspath

753 posts

139 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
Hi Ian.C -- your posting above came through as I was writing up mine .

I totally agree with what you say re period competitors - everything always has to be seen/ considered relative to your contemporaries .


There were 2 key design objectives that were set for the Countach :
1) a top speed of 300km/h
2) eliminating the front end lift that plagued the Miura .


(2) was highly important to Stanzani and Ferruccio , as the Miura had generated bad press for Lamborghini by over exuberant owners crashing their cars OR complaining bitterly in public after scaring themselves silly following a dose of front end lift at speed .

So reducing drag was important for achieving (1) , but getting rid of lift was important for the company's balance sheet !!

yzr500

112 posts

65 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
Back in the day when the Ferrari Testarossa was launched someone asked where's the rear wing ? answer the complete car is a wing !!!! BTW anybody driven an Countach in heavy rain ? scary or what.

Martin350

3,491 posts

157 months

Sunday 2nd August 2020
quotequote all
carspath said:
the Miura had generated bad press for Lamborghini by over exuberant owners crashing their cars OR complaining bitterly in public after scaring themselves silly following a dose of front end lift at speed .
I once read about a French motoring journalist going to the factory and picking up a Miura to test.

He reported that, at something like 150 mph, he passed under a flyover on the Autoroute, the front wheels came off the ground and he returned to the factory vowing never to drive another Lamborghini.

Whether true, an exaggeration, or total nonsense, I will never know, but it does remind me of this type of crash which has occurred a few times.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8XxQkXCmsU


Edited by Martin350 on Sunday 2nd August 23:45

rat rod

1,216 posts

27 months

Monday 3rd August 2020
quotequote all
yzr500 said:
Back in the day when the Ferrari Testarossa was launched someone asked where's the rear wing ? answer the complete car is a wing !!!! BTW anybody driven an Countach in heavy rain ? scary or what.
As scary as when your clutch went on your Countach on Christmas eve and being towed by your mate behind his Ford Granada for 12 miles on a 12 foot rope down a dark winding lane ,now that must have been scary,mind you i've never been driven by you in the rain in the Countach,hate to think what you were like on your Ducati's

Edited by rat rod on Monday 3rd August 00:18

raymondqv

63 posts

62 months

Monday 3rd August 2020
quotequote all
yzr500 said:
Back in the day when the Ferrari Testarossa was launched someone asked where's the rear wing ? answer the complete car is a wing !!!! BTW anybody driven an Countach in heavy rain ? scary or what.
Several times and not scary at all when your tires have enough profile height!

Ferruccio

1,434 posts

81 months

Monday 3rd August 2020
quotequote all
yzr500 said:
Back in the day when the Ferrari Testarossa was launched someone asked where's the rear wing ? answer the complete car is a wing !!!! BTW anybody driven an Countach in heavy rain ? scary or what.
Do you say that because of the screen fogging up?

footsoldier

1,871 posts

154 months

Monday 3rd August 2020
quotequote all
First time I drove a Countach was when I picked mine up from Mike Pullen.
Drove it from Sussex to Edinburgh, in heavy rain, in the dark, to Edinburgh... yellow lights, LHD, token wiper - memorable trip!

raymondqv

63 posts

62 months

Monday 3rd August 2020
quotequote all
You picked it up at Mike Pullen and the wiper was broken, that sounds strange...

PushedDover

3,038 posts

15 months

Monday 3rd August 2020
quotequote all
footsoldier said:
First time I drove a Countach was when I picked mine up from Mike Pullen.
Drove it from Sussex to Edinburgh, in heavy rain, in the dark, to Edinburgh... yellow lights, LHD, token wiper - memorable trip!
I am sure - and did you enjoy it ? A great journey to learn foibles....