The designer of the groundbreaking 1974 Lamborghini Countach, Marcello Gandini, has issued a remarkable statement to the press regarding the recently released Countach LPI 800-4. In it, he repeatedly affirms that he had nothing to do with the revived Countach that Lamborghini revealed at Monterey Car Week on the occasion of the model’s 50th anniversary.
Gandini alleges that Lamborghini may have misled the public into thinking he had something to do with the Sián reskin, and he wants to make it clear that he had nothing to do with it.
“The external public, seeing and reading what has been communicated by Automobili Lamborghini and consequently by the media during recent weeks, may be led into believing that Marcello Gandini was a part of, or was involved with, or the project may have had his blessing. It is therefore appropriate to clarify the facts and reiterate that he did not participate in, nor was he aware of the project in any way.”
Rarely has a designer of Gandini’s stature and repute so publicly refuted a company they’ve worked for. Though Gandini penned cars from the humble Renault 5 to the masterful E12 BMW 5 Series to the incredible Lancia Stratos, it is Lamborghini — where he was responsible for the legendary Miura, Espada, Marzal and Countach, among others — that Gandini is historically most closely associated with.
Some of the confusion Gandini references stems from a video published by Lamborghini earlier this year. In it, Gandini talks about his design philosophy (which, ironically, includes breaking new ground with every design) and current Lamborghini head of design Mitja Borkert presents Gandini with a scale model of the then-upcoming Countach LPI 800-4. The latter believes that his presence in the video equates to tacit approval of the new design.
“Neither earlier, nor during the interview was it stated that the car was scheduled for limited series production. With the elegance and kindness that have always distinguished Marcello Gandini, when Mitja Borkert presented the scale model during the interview, the former did smile and acknowledge as would be customary to do so.”
Gandini believed that the model was the end of it, but after Lamborghini pulled the wraps off of the LPI 800-4, he says he received “countless requests for clarification” from press and colleagues in the auto design field. He decided to issue the statement to make clear he had nothing to do with the remake. Furthermore, he wants the public to know that he’s against the idea altogether. And though he doesn’t criticize the design itself, he skewers the notion of a remake.
“Thus, Marcello Gandini would like to reaffirm that he had no role in this operation, and as the author and creator of the original design from 1971, would like to clarify that the makeover does not reflect his spirit and his vision. A spirit of innovation and breaking the mould which is in his opinion totally absent in this new design: ‘I have built my identity as a designer, especially when working on supercars for Lamborghini, on a unique concept: each new model I would work on would be an innovation, a breaker, something completely different from the previous one. Courage, the ability to create a break without sticking to the success of the previous car, the confidence in not wanting to give in to habit were the very essence of my work’, explains Marcello Gandini. ‘It is clear that markets and marketing itself has changed a lot since then, but as far as I am concerned, to repeat a model of the past, represents in my opinion the negation of the founding principles of my DNA.'”
For its part, Lamborghini has issued its own response to Gandini, which Top Gear published. The company explains that the Countach LPI 800-4 was the work of designers at their Centro Stile and R&D department.
“The Company has never attributed any role to Marcello Gandini in the realisation of the Countach LPI 800-4. Instead, Automobili Lamborghini have invited Mr Gandini to take part in an interview that took place in June 2021. This was a conversation with the designer and Head of Centro Stile Lamborghini about the comparison between the old model and the new one.”
It’s understandable that Gandini wants to protect his legacy and name, but it also seems obvious that Lamborghini never meant to mislead the public about his involvement. However, it must be said that all 112 units have already been sold out, so someone out there does appreciate them.
All in all, it’s a regrettable misunderstanding that has marred what should otherwise be a golden anniversary celebration of one of the most famous and beloved cars of all time. Perhaps we should just ignore it and revel in the Countach LP500 concept rebirth instead.