Journal: Choosing Between a Lamborghini Countach and a Replica

Choosing Between a Lamborghini Countach and a Replica

By Yoav Gilad
January 29, 2014

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…

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Mark Wright
Mark Wright(@mark_wright)
2 years ago

I reckon go for the Ferrari 330 P4 replica. Such a beautiful car. And almost looks fake in an ethereal and sublime way.

Bernard Holzberg
Bernard Holzberg(@slow-m)
7 years ago


Some replicas are better than the real thing. Take the Basement Countach, as an example. You may find it endearing. It gives nothing away to one built at Sant’Agata, in looks, performance, and most certainly build quality or rarity. If you’ve ever seen the “inner fenders” being removed from a Countach, your respect for Ferruccio and his brand can’t help but be diminished. There, on the floor, right alongside your esteem, will be many little, tar covered scraps of thin gauge sheet aluminum, and the frame members to which they’d been attached, will be riddled with holes, where the pop rivets have been drilled out. Surely, you can guess what this scenario will look like, if the car lived in any but the driest climate.

Where the Bailey cars are concerned, it’s always confused me, when a genius produces a beautiful, competent chassis, and then clothes it in someone else’s skin. Why not give a freelance designer the opportunity to give us all something new to marvel at? In all likelihood, it has to do with a built-in market.

Conversely, the Superformance GT40 is a testament to purity, far beyond the masquerade perpetrated on that formerly lithe Gandini shape. Boxerman mentioned how close these come to the originals. They are a joy to behold. There is a reason why some usually staid and stale vintage race sanctioning bodies let them play, on track, with originals. It’s because they’re that damn close, down to the pin drive wheels, and up to the steel roof. What’s more, these days, the performance that can be pushed out of a reliable Small Block Ford is nothing short of spectacular. Thing well over 500HP for a short deck variant, and add a hundred for its taller sibling. We’ve com e a long way since Gurney Weslake heads.

The same holds true for Kirkham’s offerings. Their cars can be viewed as clones, as they can be specified to be identical to an original. A friend of mine is currently building an FIA Cobra, for a customer, and while there are a great many niggling things he will have to set right, there are a greater number of details to marvel at.

Aside from those options, though, there’s always the possibility of building, or restoring a vintage race car. Additionally, beauties like the Lola T70 “continuation” cars are not currently fetching a premium.

What ever you do get, I hope you enjoy it, and your time carving canyons.


Matthew Haber
Matthew Haber(@mhaber9)
7 years ago

In my humble opinion, I personally like the thought of the Countach,I am a huge Lamborghini fan and nothing screams look at me more than the winged Countach. Now I dont know if you are going into this with the intention to sell it eventually. If you are then I would say go for the replica whatever you want because getting a real Countach only to white knuckle it everywhere would totally devalue it where as if you got a replica, who cares. If you dont care about resale though then just go with your gut feeling. Congrats on the job and the Mrs. and if I may, That might entice you a little more

Tobias Ostapchuk
Tobias Ostapchuk(@squad41)
7 years ago

Yoav, either purchase would be excellent fun. Remember when it comes to collecting, the original will always be just that… An original. Of course if you’re looking to enjoy something, perhaps one of the Bailey Replicas would be good. You should contact Steve Mastroianni at Auto Turismo Sport in New Milford, Connecticut. He has vast experience with Italian supercars (Especially Ferrari and Lamborghini), and he also is working as a partner with Bailey Cars NA. The last time I was in his shop, he had two Bailey P4 replicas, a Lola T70 replica, and a GT40. He might be a good point of reference.

Andreas Lavesson
Andreas Lavesson(@andreas)
7 years ago

First of all, I’d like to point out that I’ve never had a replica myself and therefor is only imagining what it’d be like. I understand these Bailey replicas are made out of fiberglass? They are probably good cars (given you buy the 330 P4 with a real Ferrari V12) and there’s nothing wrong with fiberglass.

However, personally I’m quite conflicted. While on the one hand you get to drive legendary cars that are quite frankly unobtainable, I always find myself wavering when thinking of replicas. It would be awesome in a sense, but there would still be a hint of dissatisfaction knowing I’ve got a “cheap replica” (no offense). There are obviously the “handcrafted aluminium replicas” such as the Norwood P4 or Holman Moody GT Mark II, but they are at least twice the money you’re looking to spend, when bought used.

I would possibly consider buying a Kirkham Cobra 289 for the money. In my opinion it’s either that or go for the Countach (although I’d buy the 512BB instead).

Marc Hirsch
Marc Hirsch(@march)
7 years ago

One other car a crave like a deep fried Snickers bar is a BAC Mono, not sure if they are street legal in the US.

Marc Hirsch
Marc Hirsch(@march)
7 years ago

My only reservations with replicas is that you will own something that has to be explained. Most won’t get it and those that do will think kit car. $175,000 one at that. On other hand, my relationship with my cars is deeply personal and I choose them for reasons that others do not understand. Not that I am recommending a ‘crowd pleaser’, but there can be an erosional effect of sorts… The link below is for a Stratos replica as reviewed by Sutcliffe from Autocar; it made me want one pretty dang bad.

Jon Warshawsky
Jon Warshawsky(@bullfighter)
7 years ago

If you like the Countach, get a Countach. It sounds like this is your dream car. Until you get the real deal (not a replica), you won’t really have scratched that itch. If values stay strong on classic/vintage sports cars, you’ll probably get every penny back if/when you sell.

E.g., people have been faking 911 2.7 RS’s for a while, but now that real ones are pushing $500K I’m guessing the guys who went the “replica/tribute” route five years ago are second guessing themselves.

Whatever you do, go authentic.

Dustin Rittle
Dustin Rittle(@mosler)
7 years ago

Im actually fine with seeing a replica or owning one as long as the replica is staying true to the original design and personality of the car its replicating. I personally was never really a big fan of the Countach but i do like what it represents in terms of supercars back in the day. First off it was superfast..highly expensive and it looks like something from outerspace. Seeing one of those beast drive by you back in the day must have been one hell of a sight and im sure it made your ears tingle a bit too 😀

7 years ago

I think you are confusing a few issues on the replica recreation front. All baily edwards cars are replicas in that they look like or close to a period car, but are really modern takes on an old style. Then you have cars more akin to a tool room copy or a recreation. Think SPF GT40, which is licensed and pretty much an origional GT40, just a new build. Another example is a pur sang bugatti T35 from Argentina.

A replica is just that, something without cachet or provenance, but it may be a fun depreciating aset to drive. A recreation probably wont depreciate much and has a provenance and a certain respect. But here your choices are limited to certain cobras and SPF Gt40’s, arguably some T70’s a Caterham and that is about it.

As to a Countach, had one, its pure art to look at, but to drive its a bit of an unfinshed concept car. Side vision is horrible and rear vision zero. They handle great below 140ish, very much like a go kart on the road, but the front end starts gettong light above 140-150. In refinement they are more old camaro than porche . A Countach will undoubtably appreciate and I can see it being worth 50\% more in 10 years if not more. This is a good thing because an older Italian exotic is going to average not less than 5k per year in maintance and some years can be a bigger hit, that is if you want it to drive properly. These are very much occasion cars, you know to dive in the right mood on the right road on the right day.

I still have a boxer, its less hard car than a CT, in the flesh not like a 308 at all, plus for what its worth, its a handbuilt ferrai 12. The boxer is refined where the CT is crude. The motor smoother and it feels to pack a bigger hit, especialy in the midrange, a ct may be stronger on top. You can almost use a boxer as adaily if you dont mind being so low and the long warmup. Like the Ct its going to be 5k per year in maintanance.
The handling is not as sharp or direct as a CT, but you can get close with new wheels and modern rubber, you can see out of it and really work through traffic, but its no as dramatic as a CT.

The drawbacks to a CT and a boxer above and beyond those mentioned are that any older car is going to need sorting to really run properly, no matter how nice you think it is, and you need someone who understands that model to do it, plus patience. The other drawback is modern roads and legislation do not have an open mind towards cars traveling at takeoff velocity, whcih is where a ot of the driving fun is on these machines, and neither are really good or particularily durable on track.

In my case I am completing the build of aSPF GT40 primarily for track, but also a bit of street use. Plus with a SPF and the right motor you can vintage race. It cost far far less to run, built propely does not need sorting, is robust, has the looks and can be driven hard on street and track, but it is more of a race car on the road than a road car.

The ferrari stays, but its a special occasion car, and for road rallies. The GT40 is going to do the heavy lifiting. I suppose if you had to have one, its where do your priorities lay, and what is your tolerance for sorting.

One last option to considder is a euro 308 GT4 another sublime gandini shape and a GT40 for track and heavy lifting.

Sounds like you want a CT though, it will certainly keep value, if you dont go to the track and have some great roads close by to excecise it, hard to go wrong.

Vianney Lalain
Vianney Lalain(@vianney)
7 years ago

There is also the Ferrari Daytona by McBurnie that you could consider. Singular style of the seventies.
This is still a rare and not easy to find car i guess. But for a replica, it looks quite good to my mind and is powered with a Corvette engine so it shouldn’t be boring to drive!

Alec DeJovani
Alec DeJovani(@250berlinetta)
7 years ago

With replicated cars, the goal is to find the ideal balance between replica and brand purity. Is it acceptable for example to buy a P4 replica that has replicated bodywork but a real Ferrari V12 power train? I personally think so. After all, most restored cars are replicas to some degree. That said, it is hard to choose between the car I described and say an original Countach. If a Bailey replica is faithful enough to the brand (whether it’s Ford or Ferrari) in your mind, I would say go with that. Otherwise, go with the Lamborghini…and it’s not like you’re really settling either.

7 years ago

Maybe the question (regarding GT40) should include Ford GT.

7 years ago
Reply to  Yoav Gilad

My god, I just looked it up on eBay, I didn’t know GT was so expensive! I seem to recall that there was a short moment in which nobody wanted them, and price plummeted. Not any more, apparently!!

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange(@365daytonafan)
7 years ago

Firstly congratulations on your wedding, hopefully your wife is as understanding of old cars as mine is 😉

For Countachs, colour aside you may want to make a trip to Amelia Island to look at this Personally though I would look at Ferrari Boxers, particularly the 512BB with Carbs. Achingly pretty and unlike the Countach the Boxer has a competition heritage, at Le Mans if not as successfully as the GT40. There’s an injected model in the same auction