By the time this edition was unveiled to celebrate Lamborghini’s 25th anniversary in 1988, the company was well on its way to launching the Countach’s replacement: the Diablo. That car would be, in effect, a massive modernisation of the entire concept, with – as Valentino admits – one or two compromises, such as the move away from a tubular steel structure.
But the Anniversary was also a reflection of how times were changing for the marque in the boom-time late-’80s. It received a fairly substantial facelift, effected by a brand new bodykit with styling input from Horacio Pagani (a man who’d move on to great things as an independent supercar builder). It has a smoother, friendlier look, with better integrated cooling ducts than before, and the individualistic NACA ducts are now body-colored.
Inside, the Anniversary reflects the buoyant mood of the time. It loses the original car’s appealing ‘deckchairs’, and gains more lavish trim, climate control and electric operation for its laughably small side windows. It also feels much more tightly screwed together than the QV, although that could be down to the lower mileage of our test model (which was supplied by the Lamborghini museum).
The Anniversary initially feels almost Lexus-like after the other cars, and slightly at odds with the Countach’s usually uncompromising nature. Yet, on the road, the smoother-looking Anniversary is almost identical to the QV.
‘There were some minor changes to the rear suspension geometry, due to the fitment of shorter wishbones, but beyond making the car easier to drift there’s little difference,’ Valentino says. Those modifications were necessary due to the tires rubbing on the new fenders, and also resulted in a slightly narrower rear track. But much more important from a technical view is the improved cooling system, which finally laid to rest one of the car’s major Achilles heels: its less-than-perfect hot-weather running.
The Anniversary certainly feels just as physical as the QV to drive on the track, with the same familiar set-in-concrete – if communicative – steering, brakes and clutch. Nonetheless Valentino praises its low-speed ability. ‘There is no jerking when trickling along,’ he says. ‘It’s smooth and there is a lot of clean torque, considering it’s a multi-carburetor, old-school car. I think with the Anniversary we got the best compromise with what we wanted from a Countach.’
Despite its divisive styling (which suffers for being less extreme than the QV’s), there’s something very likeable about the way the Anniversary feels. It has all the poise and ability of its fearsome ancestors, yet it’s just friendly enough that you can sit in it and not feel completely intimidated. Perhaps that would explain why the run-out model sold so well during its two-year stint, which led up to the arrival of the altogether more modern Diablo. The Anniversary represents the end of an era – but, luckily for the engineers at Lamborghini, it’s also the best of the lot to drive.
Engine 5167cc V12, DOHC, 48 valves, six Weber 45DCNF carburetors
Power 455bhp @ 7000rpm Torque 369lb ft @ 5200rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Steering Rack and pinion
Suspension Front: double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic dampers, anti-roll bar. Rear: wishbones, trailing links, coil springs, twinned telescopic dampers.
Brakes Vented discs front and rear
Performance Top speed 180mph. 0-60mph 4.8sec