Friday, January 4, 2008

The Lamborghini Countach, part 7

In 1975, Walter Wolf, a wealthy Canadian businessman and owner of the Wolf F1 Racing team in the 1970s, purchased an LP400; however, he was not satisfied with the LP400's engine and asked Dallara, the chief engineer of Lamborghini at that time and the founder of the Italian F1 racing team Scuderia Italia in the early 1990s, to create a special high-power version of Countach. It was the "code NO 1120148" Walter Wolf special with the original "5" engine from the Countach prototype which produced 447 hp / 7900 rpm and reached a supposed maximum speed of 315 km/h (195.7 mph). This model also featured the upgraded wheels, Pirelli P7 tires, large fender flares, and front and rear spoilers of the LP400S model. It was painted in red, with black fender flares, and was designated "LP500S" like the standard Countach model from the 1980s, and was the stepping stone that led to this later production model. This first Walter Wolf car is currently located in Japan. Two other Wolf Countaches were produced, one painted blue, NO 1120202 (currently in Germany) and one navy blue, NO 1121210. (This machine was owned by Mr. Wolf for a long time, but was eventually sold.)

In 1984 Rod Ladret of Ladret Design Studio located in Alberta Canada began producing and marketing a replica of the Countach. The form for the kit was sculpted from plaster and then a fiberglass mold was made of the form. The kits and cars Ladret design Studio built included a tube frame chassis with an American V8 power plant. Ladret Design Studio built 141 of these replicas and the industrial clients who purchased his fiberglass forms have built several thousand over the past two decades. As of 2007 there are still several companies building kits based on Ladret's forms built in 1984. In 1993 Ladret ceased manufacturing the Countach replica and moved on to other projects.

From around 1985 until the late 1990s several companies replicated the Countach to various degrees of success. In 1985, Gary Thompson and Pete Jackson hired a real Countach from an up-market Manchester car hire company and took a glass fiber mold of it. This mold resulted in a number of UK-based manufacturers producing their own Countach replicas. A few were able to produce remarkably good replicas, including Paul Lawrenson of Prova Cars, Sienna Cars, Phil Cheetham of Mirage replicas, and Brightwheel replicas. Ultimately, none of these companies survived.

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