The Lamborghini Countach is the quintessential 80s car. Designed by Bertone’s Marcello Gandini, the same mastermind behind the Miura and the Espada, it had the wedge shape and pop-up headlights that helped define that automotive era. The Countach began with the LP400, which packed a 3.9L V12 with 370 hp. The LP400 was superseded by the L400 S, which downgraded the engine to 350 hp but added wider tires, its signature fiberglass wheel arch extensions, and an optional V-shaped rear wing.
Another update came in 1982 in the form of the LP500 S, which increased the engine size to 4.8 L and updated the interior. The 500 S is oftentimes called a 5000 S in some markets, but it is not the same as the LP5000 Quattrovalvole that came after it. Only 321 examples of the 500 S/5000 S were ever built, sealing the rarity of these already highly sought-after cultural icons.
This particular example of a 5000 S, Chassis # ZA9C00500DLA12593, was imported to the US through Rarewala Enterprises in California and sold to its first owner, who was located in Illinois. It originally wore a Blu Acapulco paint job over a Champagne interior. Through comprehensive research and speaking directly with Marcel Wallenburg of the Countach Registry, we do believe that the first and original owner of this car was Walter Payton, of NFL fame.
Payton played for the Chicago Bears for a stunning 13 seasons, racking up numerous accolades and leading them to a super bowl victory in 1986. In 1984 he was given a Countach as a bonus by one of his biggest sponsors, the Kangaroo Shoe company, after breaking an NFL record for rushing yards. He was widely known for his iconic Countach, finished in a dark midnight blue color (Blu Acapulco) and wearing a license plate that read “WP 34”, which he would drive around Chicago, often getting himself in trouble for speeding. The Countach was still a rare sight in the US at this time as any cars that were brought into the country had to undergo a rigorous process to become federalized by companies such as Rarewala Enterprises. According to Marcel Wallenburg, there were only two 5000 S examples produced in Blu Acapulco that were imported into the US. The first was this car, shipped from the factory in July of 1983. The second example was not completed and shipped till early 1984. The first entry on the CARFAX for our car listed here, DLA12593, shows the first owner residing in Arlington Heights, Illinois in November of 1984. Walter Payton famously resided in Arlington Heights, located on the north side of Chicago, and would be seen driving his Countach around the area routinely. In addition, we uncovered a newspaper archive from the Journal Gazette of Mattoon, Illinois, dated Wednesday, October 14, 1987, discussing Payton’s car being up for sale at Lake Forest Sportscars with 19,000 KM and an asking price of $79,000. This coincides with the second CARFAX entry, which shows DLA12593’s second titled owner residing in Addison, Illinois, in December of 1987 and 19,000 registered kilometers. Another excellent supporting fact is that when Payton owned the car, he had aftermarket speakers installed in the door, which are visible in one of the iconic Kangaroo Shoe posters, with the driver-side door up and Payton perched on the sill. Mr. Wallenburg was kind enough to reach out to one of DLA12593’s previous owners, who resided in Germany and owned the car when it still wore its original Champagne interior, to ask if the car had these unique speakers when he owned it. It took a bit of digging to find some old photos, but sure enough, the same unique aftermarket door speakers were present on the car during his ownership. So while we do not have defacto proof, such as an old title with his name and VIN on it, the puzzle pieces do align to the extent that we are extremely confident that DLA12593 is the famous and long lost Walter Payton Countach. For a better breakdown of all the evidence surrounding our conclusion that DLA12593 is the famous Walter Payton Countach, please watch the video above or check out the pdf in our documents section, both of which break down all the evidence.
It appears that Payton possibly traded the Countach for a Ferrari Testarossa at some point in 1987. It looks like the Countach resided in the Illinois area for another 2 years until 1989, when the car made its way to Texas before being exported to Europe, where it spent the next few decades and was repainted red and then white, likely sometime in the late 1990s. About 10 years ago, this Countach, now residing in Germany, underwent a full restoration and repaint. During the restoration process, the U.S. specification side reflectors were filled in. This change can be viewed by looking at the inside of the quarter panel from the trunk area and while it does not detract from the current state of the car, it does provide evidence that in the past this was a U.S. specification car.
The comprehensive restoration involved the removal and complete dismantling of the engine, with every individual component being cleaned and refurbished or replaced before being reinstalled. The body was stripped down to bare metal before the current black paint job was professionally applied. The interior was also reupholstered in black leather to match the new color of the body, with the seats now sporting contrasting blue piping. Every step of the process was photographically documented and bound in a hardcover book that is included with the car.
In May of this year, the engine and gearbox were serviced and certified to be in perfect working order before the car was later sent from Wang, Germany, to Lamborghini of Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark. We imported it back to the US in August, where we treated the undercarriage to a steam cleaning and replaced the battery.
As it sits, this is a low-mileage and well-sorted example of a pre-QV Countach. With a storied past and freshly sorted mechanicals, this is one of the better ones to own and provides a great avenue into Countach ownership. And given the potential provenance of being one of the more famous Countachs in history, having been likely owned by the great Walter Peyton, there is certainly an added value to this already wonderful example.
Upon purchase, the owner will receive two keys and the book detailing this car’s restoration.
Body And Paint
The black paint, while not original to the car, was professionally coated roughly 10 years ago and is in nice condition overall. Throughout the front bumper and hood, there are some minor small chips, as well as a 1-inch long scratch on the top left portion of the hood and a 2-inch long scratch on the lower left portion of the lip. The wide fender arches at the rear of the car have suffered some peppering as well. The body, however, is very straight, and the panel gaps align nice and even as they should.
Glass And Trim
The glass appears to be all original to the car and presents nicely. The trim around the windows in some areas, such as the corners, has suffered a small amount of flaking, but nothing that takes away from the overall appearance of the vehicle.
3 of the 4 wheels are in very good condition showing no signs of rash or scuffs. The driver-side rear wheel has a few knicks that are documented in our photo set.
There are some scratches and knicks around the front end and a good bit of peppering on the rear fender arches. A larger scratch is present on the hood as well as on the left side of the front lip.
Seats And Surfaces
The interior presents in fantastic condition, having benefited from being redone during the previous restoration. The leather is soft and high quality to the touch around the sills and dashboard. The steering wheel is showing signs of use with a few small scuffs on the sides, outside of this no major scratches or tears to note. The carpeting is in good condition, and all surfaces fit and look as they should.
Functionality And Accessories
During our testing of the vehicle, it appears that all items in the interior work correctly as they should. The doors open and close with ease, and all switches, buttons, and knobs appear to function properly. The gauges read their requisite functions as they should.
ENGINE BAY AND TRUNK
The engine bay is correct and tidy. All of the hoses and lines are correct and in wonderful condition. The electronics appear to be all newer and in good order. Painted surfaces are smooth and free of blemishes. It appears that it was well attended to during the restoration and has been kept in top shape since. There are no signs of any issues either cosmetic or mechanical.
The front trunk is fitted with the correct spare tire with rubber hold-downs and is in great condition. Painted surfaces appear appropriate, and electronics and wiring look well tended to and in good order. There is a battery cutoff switch located on the crossbar above the spare. A bit of dirt and grime hides in the corners, but nothing that detracts from the otherwise tidy front trunk. The rear trunk is clean and in good order. The carpeting retains good color and texture and fits well. There are no signs of any issues, past or present, here.
The underside appears consistent with the rest of the vehicle. Solid metal throughout, with painted surfaces showing as you would expect, given the mileage. There are no signs of any issues past or present here and overall suspension components etc., appear well looked after and in good order.
The 4.8L V12 springs to life with no hesitation and sounds wonderful with the aftermarket exhaust that it is equipped with. Once up to temperature, it settles into a loud and rumbling but consistent idle. Out on the road it makes fantastic power with no flat spots or stumbles in acceleration.
The shifter slots in the gates smoothly with little resistance and provide direct and tactile shifting feedback. The clutch is heavy in stereotypical Countach fashion, but the catch point and take-up feel appropriate. It holds power easily throughout all the gears and rev range, showing no issues to speak of.
Brakes And Suspension
The brakes bring the car to a stop in a controlled manner with no issues to note. The suspension is smooth but taut, with no odd noises or behavior.
The car wears the correct and hard-to-source Pirelli P Zero Assimetrico tires on all four corners. The sizing is, of course, staggered, with rears being 345/35/ZR15 and the fronts 255/50/ZR15. DOT date codes for the tires read late 2011 for production, but the tires are in excellent condition, with ample tread, solid sidewalls, and plenty of life left in them.