I was the kid with the poster over his bed: "Body by Lamborghini. High Fidelity by Alpine." Farrah's nipple was nice, but it was the curves of that red Countach I spent endless solitary hours tracing with my eyes. The car was pure pornography to me as an adolescent. Its name was one I dared not utter in front of my Italian mother, lest it mean something as dirty as it sounded, but saying it aloud with my friends, complete with squinty eyes and Don Corleone hand gestures, felt sinfully good. I fantasized about sliding beneath its scissors-style door and blasting off but, like many things I fantasized about back then, never thought I'd actually get the opportunity to do.
Twenty-odd years later, my luck's about to change. Parked in the garage of owner Tony Ierardi's Auto Italia shop in Naples, Florida, is a white-on-white 1981 Countach LP400S. It's been forty years since designer Marcello Gandini's lemon-yellow prototype debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, and the Countach -- the young Bertone stylist's follow-up to his Lamborghini Miura -- still makes everything else on four wheels look like the box it came in.
Despite a sixteen-year production run, there aren't many Countachs in the world. Finding a car in the States -- and an owner willing to let a mere mortal drive it -- was no small feat. Fortunately, Countach (and Lamborghini) owners tend to keep tabs on one another and their cars, and most happen to be members of Lamborghini Club America. So the club's president, Andrew Romanowski, generously offered to make some calls. Enter Ierardi, whose shop is dedicated to meticulous restorations and service of vintage Italian metal -- particularly Lambos. He's probably the country's foremost authority on the Countach, one of those guys who can cite the differences among all the 2000-ish Countachs built between April 1974 and July 1990.
I circle the car, peering into and under it, running my fingers over its aluminum skin and across the outsize wing on its tail (a $5000 factory option). I'm uneasy about the clutch, which I've heard is titanically heavy. Ditto the shifter, brakes, and steering. I'm worried that I won't fit inside-and that Iwon't be able to see out even if I do. Apparently, all this concern shows on my face. Ierardi saunters over. "It's just a car," he says as he hands me the key -- easy words from a guy who's owned five.