Happy birthday! The Lamborghini Countach LP 500 turns 50 this year

The Lamborghini Countach LP 500 was the star of the Geneva Motor Show 50 years ago.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

Under the spotlights of the 1971 Geneva Auto Show, with actual film cameras with flash bulbs capturing every moment, the Lamborghini Countach LP 500 struck a post for the first time, dressed in yellow, inside the Carrozzeria Bertone event space just down from the debut of the Lamborghini Miura SV.

It was just 10 o'clock in the morning in Switzerland when the cover came off, but the enthusiasm surrounding the prototype's appearance was so high, the Italian sports car company knew what they had to do. They needed to get some to customers. And quick.

In the weeks after its arrival, the Countach LP 500 was featured in all the international automotive magazines. The Countach project, codenamed LP112, was headed up by engineer Paolo Stanzani, who had been with Lamborghini since 1963, and in 1968 was named General Manager and Technical Director, responsible for the mechanical part of the Countach.

Lamborghini Countach LP 500

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini

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The body of the car was styled by Marcello Gandini, Design Director of Carrozzeria Bertone. At the time, scissor doors were a hallmark of Lamborghini's 12-cylinder models so it was decided to use them on the Countach as well.

However, the LP 500 was substantially different than the Countach that would go into production in 1974. The homologated model would have its chassis changed out for one that was easier to fabricate and protect against corrosion.

After Lamborghini's chief test driver Bob Wallace used the car for road testing, it was determined that the 12-cylinder 4971cc power plant. that was in the prototype was no good and that a different engine was required. A 3.9-liter engine was originally sold in the Countach with a 4.8-liter and a 5.2-liter eventually making their way under the hood.

Production or prototype, the car was unique for its time, and certainly a different take on Italian sports car design than the Miura that debuted at the same time.

Lamborghini models are feature unique names with none of the alphanumeric nomenclature that has become so commonplace today. Its origin story begins in the Piedmont region of Italy. The region - located in the center or a triangle from Milan, Italy to Grenoble, Switzerland to Genoa, Italy - is where the car was hidden during its final days of development.

A small shed traditionally used for agricultural machinery on a farm near Grugliasco, Italy was the home of the car. This allowed Lamborghini to avoid any work stoppages related to labor unrest that was happening in the country at the time.

Marcello Gandini, the designer of the Countach, explained the origin of the name in a story for Lamborghini's website entitled "Not Just Bulls: the Creator Tells Us the Story Behind the Name Countach":

"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, contagion, and 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."

From 1974 to 1990, 1,999 Countachs in five different series were produced, representing a model that, in addition to ending up displayed on the bedroom walls of an entire generation and being used in dozens of films, allowed Lamborghini to survive the most difficult years of its history, setting itself up for the success it has today.

What ever happened to the Countach LP 500? The car's life was cut short. In 1974 it was scrapped.

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The 2021 Lamborghini Sián Roadster is a smile maker.

Photo courtesy of Automobili Lamborghini

If you're not rich enough to have an automaker completely craft you a one-off from scratch, the next best thing is to take full advantage of the company's vehicle customization options. There's usually a special devision that takes care of this. At Aston Martin, it's Q. Bentley has Mulliner and Porsche offers up their Manufaktur department.

Lambroghini's Ad Personam customization program offers five key areas where customers can make the vehicle they order unique. Specialists assist customers at every step of the process, taking into consideration their demands as craftspeople create the vehicle that's ordered.

The choice of 348 unique colors.

Lamborghini Ad Personam paint colors

Lamborghinis are offered in a wide variety of colors.

Photo courtesy of Lamborghini Automobili

Though not every color is available in every region of the world, there are 348 total options offered to customers. Americans tend to be the most demanding, requesting 20 percent of the custom colors that Ad Personam offers up, followed by customers in Asia Pacifica and EMEA region.

Take the car to the next level with diamond dust paint.

All that glitters isn't always gold. Sometimes it's diamonds. Ad Personam offers Lamborghinis with a new transparent paint that includes micro crystals in the form of diamond dust. This dust undergoes a unique processing technique and is applied to the bodywork of the supercar, giving it an iridescent sheen that changes color according to reflections of the light at that moment.

Add a unique work of art.

Lamborghini's talented upholstery department has seen it all. In addition to the typical orders, they're able to take special requests for unique decorations and embroidery, from the seat logo, hand-stitched rather than hot-embossed, to the initials embroidered inside the passenger compartment.

Some of the most creative options requested by buyers include creating branches and peach blossoms, portraits of the customer or their beloved pet, designs in street art style with the bull, and "splash-effect" color (like in the Aventador S by Skyler Grey), to images of the skyline of their favorite city.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.

This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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