When the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 debuted earlier this year, reactions were... mixed. Some called it a cynical cash grab, others called it “no way to honor the original.” Now Marcello Gandini, designer of the original LP500 Countach concept, has made his opinion of the revival known — and it’s not exactly kind.
The trouble between Gandini and the Countach LPI 800-4 began with a video interview celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original LP500's debut. Gandini talked with Lamborghini design chief Mitja Borkert about the process behind the original car’s design, the story behind its name, and the ethos of making something wholly unlike any previous Lamborghini — a bit ironic, no?
In the interview, Borkert said the LPI 800-4 was what the Countach “could potentially look like in 2021.” He never told Gandini that it was a concept for a future model, especially one officially bearing the Countach name. Gandini, now having seen the debut of the limited-production car, believes the video may make viewers think he was involved in the LPI 800-4 project — a project he wants no association with. He said as much in a press release:
The press release is contained in screenshots in the linked tweet, transcribed here:
Marcello Gandini distances himself from the commercial operations of the Countach LPI 800-4 (“New Countach”)
Turin, 22nd October 2021 —With reference to the recent communication by Automobili Lamborghini regarding the launch of the Countach LPI 800-4, the so-called new Countach, Marcello Gandini distances himself from the project and states that in no way was he ever made aware of this project by Automobili Lamborghini itself. The external public, seeing and reading what has been communicated by Automobili Lamborghini and consequently by the media during recent weeks, may be led into believing that Marcello Gandini was a part of, or was involved with, or the project may have had his blessing. It is therefore appropriate to clarify the facts and reiterate that he did not participate in, nor was he aware of the project in any way.
During Spring 2021, the Lamborghini press office requested a video interview with Marcello Gandini, with the agreed subject of a discussion with Mitja Borkert on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Countach and, as always, it was kindly granted. During the interview, carried out on 15 June 2021 (Link to video on Lamborghini website), Borkert presents to Marcello Gandini a reduced scale model defined as his “personal tribute to Maestro Gandini”, made for himself and as a basis of a celebratory model to be presented at Pebble Beach in August on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Countach.
Neither earlier, nor during the interview was it stated that the car was scheduled for limited series production. With the elegance and kindness that have always distinguished Marcello Gandini, when Mitja Borkert presented the scale model during the interview, the former did smile and acknowledge as would be customary to do so.
The press reports that followed, although, made clear that the interview was not an end in itself as a celebration of the Countach’s 50th anniversary but marked the beginnings of series production and sale of its remake, and seeing the use made of the abovementioned interview, it is important to rectify facts. This rectification is also made necessary in response to the countless requests for clarification received by Marcello Gandini from members of the press and professionals of car design industry in recent weeks.
Thus, Marcello Gandini would like to reaffirm that he had no role in this operation, and as the author and creator of the original design from 1971, would like to clarify that the makeover does not reflect his spirit and his vision. A spirit of innovation and breaking the mould which is in his opinion totally absent in this new design: “I have built my identity as a designer, especially when working on supercars for Lamborghini, on a unique concept: each new model I would work on would be an innovation, a breaker, something completely different from the previous one. Courage, the ability to create a break without sticking to the success of the previous car, the confidence in not wanting to give in to habit were the very essence of my work”, explains Marcello Gandini. “It is clear that markets and marketing itself has changed a lot since then, but as far as I am concerned, to repeat a model of the past, represents in my opinion the negation of the founding principles of my DNA,” he adds.
Marcello Gandini clarifies that he has not participated in and does not approve the project, that he didn’t give his placet. Any assumption that this new Countach is coming out (even if only by way of assent) from Marcello Gandini is untrue.
Cordially, Marcello Gandini
Strong words from Gandini. It’s interesting that much of the video interview focused on Gandini wanting to break the mold set by previous Lamborghini models (he specifically mentions the Miura), but it ends with a car that would become the first-ever reuse of a Lamborghini nameplate.
Gandini doesn’t mention any specific issues he has with the design of the new car, simply the reuse of a nameplate that was made iconic through its novelty. Nothing before really looked like the Countach, save for the Lancia Stratos, and that unique wedge shape has influenced every Lamborghini since. The objections aren’t to the car, they’re to the spirit of the thing — mining the past for ideas more revolutionary than they can design in the present.