The Countach and all subsequent V-12 Lamborghinis use a strange layout, where the gearbox sits ahead of a mid-mounted engine, with a driveshaft running back through the oil sump getting power to the rear wheels. For servicing, the whole thing comes out vertically through the engine bay as one unit, as the design of the tubular-frame chassis prevents it from being dropped out from underneath.
Car collector Harry Metcalfe of the excellent Harry’s Garage YouTube channel is having some alarming noises on his Countach addressed, and that means the whole drivetrain had to come out. He shot video of the process, and it’s quite extraordinary.
For one thing, it requires an enormous engine hoist. Metcalfe’s mechanic, Iain Tyrrell, says his was previously used by the Royal Navy to raise up sunken nuclear submarines. If you think that seems like overkill for a car, even an iconic supercar, it isn’t. The engine and transmission assembly of a Countach is so long, you need all the height.
Lamborghini clearly wasn’t thinking about ease of maintenance when designing the Countach because the engine and transmission have to come out together every time you need a new clutch. If you plan on using your Countach, budget wisely.
Though it is bizarre, the Countach’s gearbox-ahead-of-engine layout does make sense. Having a gearbox behind the engine, as is typical of most mid-engine cars, would make the car very long, so flipping it around makes for a nice neat package. And unlike Ferrari, which with the Berlinetta Boxer and Testarossa, mounting the transmission under the engine also wasn’t feasible as Ferrari used a flat-12, while Lamborghini obviously had a taller V-12. The predecessor to the Countach, the Miura, had a transverse V-12 with a Mini-inspired shared casting for the block and gearbox, but that had more than its fair share of problems, too.
Such is life for the Countach owner. It’s not an easy car to service, but when you consider how this drivetrain defines the design of the car, you have to conclude that it doesn’t matter.
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