It’s one of only a few Lamborghinis whose name can’t be traced to bulls

Lamborghini is known for naming its cars after famous bulls in history. The Miura, for example, is named after a Spanish fighting bull that was bred from the Miura Cattle Ranch Feruccio Lamborghini’s friend, Don Eduardo Miura. There’s also the Islero, which was named after a specific Miura bull that killed matador Manolete back in 1947. Then there’s the Murcielago, which is, quite arguably, the most famous bull in history, thanks in part to the myth that has grown from it surviving 28 sword strokes in a bullfight that took place all the way back in 1897. Of all the Lamborghinis that have made hit the road, only a handful carried names that weren’t connected to bulls. One of those models is the Lamborghini Countach, regarded as the first Lamborghini to break free from the automaker’s bull-naming tradition. So if the Countach’s name isn’t related to bulls or bullfighting, how did Lamborghini come up with the name? Well, we now have the answer, one brought to us by no less than the head of the Countach’s design team, Marcello Gandini.

What's in a Name? The Origin of the "Countach" Name Comes To Light
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One of his most frequent exclamations was ‘countach,’ which literally means “plague” or “contagion.” It is actually used more to express amazement or even admiration, like ‘goodness.’

Some of you probably already know the story, but for those who aren’t aware of the Countach’s naming history, it apparently originated from, of all things, a joke. Here’s how Marcello Gandini remembers it:

“When we made cars for the car shows, we worked at night, and we were all tired, so we would joke around to keep our morale up. There was a profiler working with us who made the locks. He was two meters tall with two enormous hands, and he performed all the little jobs. He spoke almost only Piedmontese, didn’t even speak Italian. Piedmontese is much different from Italian and sounds like French. One of his most frequent exclamations was ‘countach,’ which literally means “plague” or “contagion.” It is actually used more to express amazement or even admiration, like ‘goodness.’ He had this habit. When we were working at night, to keep our morale up, there was a jousting spirit, so I said we could call it Countach, just as a joke, to say an exaggerated quip, without any conviction. There nearby was Bob Wallace, who assembled the mechanics – we always made the cars operational. At that time you could even roll into the car shows with the car running, which was marvelous. So jokingly I asked Bob Wallace how it sounded to an Anglo-Saxon ear. He said it in his own way, strangely. It worked. We immediately came up with the writing and stuck it on. But maybe the real suggestion was the idea of one of my co-workers, a young man who said let’s call it that. That is how the name was coined. This is the only true story behind this word.”

What's in a Name? The Origin of the "Countach" Name Comes To Light
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The Lamborghini Countach owes its name to what Gandini describes as a tall man with “two enormous hands and spoke only Piedmontese.”

There you have it, folks. One of Lamborghini’s most important models traces its roots from a word that means “plague or contagion.” Those who thought it was named after a bull or a bullfighting event like so many other Lambos got it wrong. There are no bulls attached to the Lamborghini Countach, just a story about men working late into the night and trying to find something — anything, really — to keep their wits together.

That source of entertainment, as it turned out, came from the unlikeliest of sources. It seems fitting that it does, too, because it actually adds to the legend of the Lamborghini Countach. Before anybody forgets, this is the supercar that ushered Lamborghini into the modern exotic car landscape. This is the same supercar that made Lamborghini a household name on bedroom walls in the 1980s, including on mine.

For all of its acclaim and status, it turns out that the Lamborghini Countach owes its name to what Gandini describes as a tall man with “two enormous hands and spoke only Piedmontese.”

Further reading

What's in a Name? The Origin of the "Countach" Name Comes To Light
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Read our full review on the 1973 - 1990 Lamborghini Countach.

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Read more Lamborghini news.

Source: Motor 1

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