Showing posts with label 1970s Supercars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1970s Supercars. Show all posts

Lamborghini Countach

Lamborghini Countach 1970s Italian classic supercar

The Lamborghini Countach was styled by Bertone - Italian masters of automotive design. In its first incarnation, the Countach flew to a top speed of 186mph. That was exceptionally quick in the Seventies. Its engine - a classic Lamborghini V12 - produced 375bhp. Again - in the 1970s - that was a gargantuan stat. The models that followed output still more power.

Handling-wise, too, the Countach was well up to snuff. Mid-engined as it was, its gearbox was at the front - nestled snugly beneath the banana seats. Weight distribution was optimised. As a consequence, the Countach's cornering capabilities soared. A 5-speed set-up only added to the fun!

Countach is a Piedmontese exclamation/expletive. In its mildest form, it means 'wow' - though it can have fruitier connotations! Certainly, the first definition was more than apt. Later versions of the Countach, though, somewhat over-egged the stylistic pudding. Pointless spoilers - and over-sized wheel-arches and ducts - bordered on the kitsch. To be fair, by the time such models hit the showrooms, the firm's founders were no longer at the helm. Financially, it found itself in choppy waters. Latter-day faux pas notwithstanding, it was largely down to the Countach that Lamborghini stayed afloat. When it made its début - in '74 - the Countach stunned show-goers. Lamborghini's rivals were left reeling. In a way - over the course of its run - the Countach summed up the Seventies. Insomuch as it was a decade which could veer wildly between masterpiece and parody!

De Tomaso Pantera

De Tomaso Pantera 1970s Italian classic supercar

Elvis Presley shot his De Tomaso Pantera - when it would not start! 'Pantera' is Italian for panther. To be fair to Presley, he was far from the only owner to lose patience with the car. The Pantera did have a bit of a 'rep'. Build quality - or the lack of it - was a topic which came up a lot. Mainly, in terms of rust and overheating. Then again, 10,000 Panteras were built. They must have had their good points, surely?

Ghia is one of the most illustrious names in coachbuilding. The firm was owned by Alejandro De Tomaso. He was an Argentinian business magnate, who had moved to Italy - home to the design icon. So revered was Ghia that Ford of North America sought to acquire it. De Tomaso did a deal with them. He sold them the rights to Ghia - in return for their distribution of the new Pantera. Ford, of course, had a huge US dealership network. Fittingly, the Pantera was powered by a 5.8-litre Ford V8. The automotive giant signed up to the deal. Not the wisest move, as it turned out. At first, things looked good. In short order, Ford shifted 4,000 units. But then the rot set in. Literally, in some cases! Before long, the Pantera became a liability. Ford were snowed under by customer complaints. By '74, they had had enough. Time was called on any more imports.

But - as indicated by the number of cars made - it was not all bad. The Pantera's top speed, for example, was a more than acceptable 160mph. Handling was excellent - in part on account of its mid-mounted engine. And should anything go wrong with that engine, breakers' yards were full of Ford V8s. As for the car's styling - it was certainly striking! De Tomaso was a maverick. Before the Pantera, he had overseen the Vallelunga and Mangusta. They, too, were one-of-a-kind cars. Later in his career, De Tomaso took over the reins at Maserati and Innocenti. The Pantera stayed in production for 25 years. That suggests that - for all its flaws - the De Tomaso Pantera had a good side. As for Elvis taking a potshot at his ... he was probably just having a bad day!

Lamborghini Miura

Lamborghini Miura 1970s Italian classic supercar

The Lamborghini Miura is considered the world's first supercar. It was conceived - in '65 - by Lamborghini's trio of star engineers. Gian Paulo Dallara, Paulo Stanzani and Bob Wallace wanted a road/race hybrid - equally at home in either environment. Developing the new car after hours, the prototype was dubbed the P400. Boss Ferruccio Lamborghini, though, took time to be convinced. He saw the future in terms of elegant GT cars - rather than the more performance-based products of Ferrari. Eventually, however, he conceded that the P400 may have marketing miles. Somewhat against his better judgement, he gave the Miura the green light.

Aesthetically, the Miura had strong credentials. It was drafted by Nuccio Bertone's legendary design house. A young Marcello Gandini headed up the team. Even at that early stage in his career, he was the pick of Bertone's stylists. The Miura's supercar lines flew freely from his pen. It mesmerised onlookers at the '66 Geneva Show. Named after a Spanish fighting bull, the Miura's muscular beauty demanded respect.

The Lambo's 4-litre V12 pushed out 350bhp. Top speed was 170mph. The mid-engined configuration was installed transversely - behind the two seats. That reduced the wheelbase - and optimised the centre of gravity. All grist to the mill of high-speed handling. The set-up subsequently became the gold standard for sports cars and supercars. The original P400 was released in '66. It was duly followed by the P400S - and finally, by the P400SV. Unsurprisingly, all three were a resounding success in the showrooms. Production stopped in '73. Just 764 cars had been built. The Lamborghini Miura, then, was powerful - but user-friendly. Glamorous - but refined. Well, apart from the S model's false eye-lashes. He had taken persuading, but - finally - Ferruccio had called it right!