Marcello Gandini is the creator of the original Lamborghini Countach. The Italian has only harsh criticism for the new edition Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 and the manufacturer.
When Lamborghini presented the new edition of the sports car wedge in mid-August with the V12 hybrid bolide Countach LPI 800-4 (see photo show at the top of this article), the biggest words were just meaningful enough. "The Countach is one of the most important icons of the automobile," said brand boss Stephan Winkelmann at the time. He embodies "our philosophy of redrawing boundaries, achieving the unexpected and extraordinary and, above all, being the 'stuff dreams are made of'." The Lamborghini President and CEO can be quoted as follows about the new edition: "It shows how the legendary Countach of the 70s and 80s could have developed into an elite super sports model of this decade."
Marcello Gandini, the designer of the legendary original Countach, for which the LP 500 show car paved the way in 1971 - i.e. exactly 50 years ago - seems to see things completely differently. At least the Italian, who is now 83 years old, felt compelled to correct a few things regarding the Countach LPI 800-4 in an open letter. In it, Gandini not only distances himself from the new model, but also counters the impression that he was involved in it. He feels compelled to "clarify and repeat that he was not involved in the project and had no knowledge of it." And further: "The assumption that it is a new Countach that comes from Marcello Gandini (even if it is only as approval) is untrue." You can't verbally distance yourself any further.
"Not his spirit and his point of view"
But not only that. Gandini explains in his statement that "the remake does not correspond to his spirit and his point of view". "I built my identity as a designer, particularly in the field of supercars that I designed for Lamborghini, on a unique concept: each new model had to be completely different from the previous one. Courage and the ability to cope with the success of the previous car breaking, the certainty of not wanting to give in to the habit, were the essence of my work." It is clear that the markets and marketing have changed significantly since then. "But to repeat a model from the past is, in my opinion, a betrayal of the core principles of my DNA as a car designer."
Gandini seems to be particularly upset about a video shot on June 15, 2021 and released by the Lamborghini press department during the presentation of the Countach LPI 800-4. In it he talks to the current head of design at the sports car brand, Mitja Borkert, about his own creation and its reincarnation, which Lamborghini is launching for the Countach anniversary.The Italian doesn't seem too enthusiastic about this during the - original quote - "chat hour". When Borkert explains his ideas using drawings and a model, Gandini nods cautiously and only cautiously pulls the corners of his mouth up. "Marcello Gandini smiled in his usual elegant and polite manner and accepted the model presented by Borkert during the conversation," it says on this in Gandini's letter.
Series car instead of "personal homage"
The design grand seigneur would probably have let it go if Lamborghini hadn't now mass-produced the Countach LPI 800-4. "Neither before nor during the interview was it mentioned that the vehicle was intended for limited series production." Gandini probably believed that the model shown by Borkert was a "personal homage to Maestro Gandini" that he had made for himself and as the basis for an anniversary model that was presented in Pebble Beach in August to mark the 50th anniversary of the Maestro Gandini LP 500 show cars should be unveiled.
By the way, the lines of the new Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 are generally not well received by the designer guild. Many car designers have already spoken critically about the new edition. Ex-BMW, Ferrari and McLaren designer Frank Stephenson, who says in a video that Lamborghini is abusing the great reputation of the original Countach as a "milk cow", was particularly clear. However, customers seem to have a different opinion: the small series of 112 copies is already sold out – despite the unit price of a good two million euros.
Has a deserving ex-Lamborghini employee with a strong reputation really been used for PR purposes without knowing it and under false pretenses? Or does a vain designer feel that he is not involved enough or that his honor has been tarnished, which is why he sees his legacy at risk? The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, especially since the fact that the Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4 has long been sold out should obviate any further discussion. But it's about one of the sports car icons in automotive history. A car whose poster has hung or still hangs in countless children's rooms and garages leaves hardly any fan cold. Which is why Gandini's statements about the LPI 800-4 are something more than "just" pure design criticism.