Choosing Between a Lamborghini Countach and a Replica
Photography by Otis Blank, Johnny Shears, and Josh Clason for Petrolicious
I’m a lucky guy; I’ll be the first to admit it. I’ve had ups and downs like everyone but the past few months have involved very large, positive changes in my life: I began working at my dream job (you may have noticed), soon I’ll be moving into a new place, and most importantly, getting married to the woman I love.
Additionally, perhaps because weddings aren’t expensive enough, I’m looking to spend another significant amount of money. No, I’m not going to bore you with details of Chiavari chairs (if you’re getting married soon or recently did, you know what I’m taking about). You’ll be pleased to know that I’m looking to add another car to my stable.
With the exception of my first car, I’ve always bought my rides based on how much I like their styling, performance, and overall value. For instance, in my garage right now is a 1996 Dodge Viper GTS. But when I bought it (2008), I compared it to the Porsche 993 Turbo and Ferrari 355.
The Porsche’s performance was certainly on par (if not better, damn all wheel drive!) but 911s are nearly as common as Honda Civics in Los Angeles and the engine is in the wrong place (but what do I know?). And while the Ferrari is uncommon, its performance wasn’t quite as strong as the Viper’s and it cost double what the Viper did. Except for the fact that the Viper is terrifying, I’m glad I bought it, and today, I’d still do the same.
So for my new (classic) car it still needs to be a combination of performance, traffic-stopping style and value. The first option is a Lamborghini Countach. I have a friend who has been looking at first generation Ferrari Testarossas for a while and I’d love to convince him to race me cross-country in those two cars. Regardless, there is nothing in the automotive world as striking as the Countach. Nothing. And this is really what I love about it—the car is a rolling motor-show.
Growing up, I had an Alpine stereo poster above my bed that featured a later Lamborghini, shot from the rear so that the massive rear wing was the most prominent feature. The car was blood red and had the Alpine logo on the spoiler. I still have that poster. In all honesty, I’d love to find a first generation ‘Periscopio’, the purest of all the Countaches but I can’t afford it. So I’m looking for a 1985-6 Downdraft model (nicknamed for its carburetors, because it’s not fuel-injected). And it must be white, preferably with a white interior. I’m still not sure if I’d prefer silver or gold OZ rims. But it MUST have a spoiler. You know, so it won’t take off.
I know that twenty-fifth anniversary models are more common, but I don’t care for the strakes on the intakes. Recently, however, other cars have also caught my gaze. But I’m a little embarrassed to admit that they’re not as pure as the Countach Downdraft that I lust for. One is the Ford GT40, which is a perfectly incredible car. Unfortunately, I can’t afford (unless a benevolent reader would like to gift me a couple million dollars) an original GT40 so I’d have to buy a replica (licensed, of course). And frankly, while very exotic looking, I’m not sure how I feel about driving a replica of something. I mean, I’d never buy a Fiero-based Countach replica.
For me, the difference in perception has to do with the level of finish and the way certain replicas are constructed (original plans, the manner the chassis is fabricated, etc). A home-cut, shade-tree budget build is sacrilege, a custom-fabricated chassis much more acceptable. The fact that I can’t even hope to afford an original GT40 at this point in my life also has something to do with my thinking. But we’re not here to debate the merits of replicas. We’ve already covered that and know that given different circumstances we’d all opt for the original. I’ve also been eying Bailey’s Ferrari 330 P4 replica.
Bailey is based in South Africa and builds replicas of some of the most amazing Le Mans cars: the Ferrari 330 P4 and Porsche 917. They also build a Lola T70 and Ford GT40 replica, if you’re interested. More to the point, the Ferrari replica is significantly cheaper than the thirty or forty million dollars you’ll have to spend if you somehow manage to convince a current owner to sell.
Additionally, they’re built to race AND street-legal in most states! But still, it isn’t the real thing. And with all the prestige and value being heaped on cars that are completely original these days (yes, it’s a trend that will eventually pass, as did the hyper-restored cars of the 1990s) it seems that replicas are a bad idea. But maybe they just represent a good value? After all how many people can own, never mind afford, a car that there are only two or three copies of?
So those are the cars that I’m considering, assuming my fiancée doesn’t want to spring for Chiavari chairs at the reception: a Lamborghini and a couple of knock-off Le Mans cars. I’m leaning towards the Countach, however I can’t help but wonder how incredible it would be to drive a Le Mans winning racecar down Tuna Canyon Rd. What would you choose? Feel free to suggest others…