'Cannonball Run' Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S turns 45


 

Meet the car that turned its single film role into a million bedroom and dorm room posters: the 1979 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S from the 1981 movie “The Cannonball Run.” Back when Lamborghini was making around 50 cars per year and there were only about five regular TV channels, the only way for most people to see a Lamborghini was in a bookstore. And even if you were familiar with the car, you’d never seen one that looked or sounded like this, with 12 exhaust pipes and a rack full of carburetors.

We recommend checking out the opening scene as an historical artifact if nothing else, a totem that not only hypnotized hordes of young boys into being car enthusiasts (this one included), but that inspired the cult of modern amateur Cannonballers continues to this day (a dying cult, thankfully):

Lamborghini celebrated the 45th anniversary of the hero car by reuniting the actresses who drove it for the first time since they worked on the film: Adrienne Barbeau (seated) who played Marcie Thatcher, and Tara Buckman who played Jill Rivers. Barbeau said, “I had never realized how successful the movie was until when people started to ask me for my autograph,” and that she still gets requests to sign Countach model cars. Buckman added, “It’s impossible for me, too, to remember how many times I signed a photo or a model car of the Countach!”

According to the automaker, the Nero over Senape (black over mustard) coupe left the lines in Sant’Agata for a dealership in Rome, where it got put on a boat for a buyer in Florida. Cannonball director Hal Needham apparently knew the buyer, which is how the Countach ended up being borrowed for the film. To make sure that even those familiar with Lamborghinis at the time knew they were watching something meant to be special, the props department added the front wing and two more headlights, three CB-looking antennas, a dozen exhaust pipes, and in the cockpit, a mobile phone and a set of fake gauges in front of the passenger’s seat (since removed).   

The original buyer left the coupe in movie spec, minus the phone and fake gauges. Florida resident Jeff Ippoliti said he saw the car in 2007, and after 18 months of negotiations, bought it in 2009. While he’s owned it, the Library of Congress added the Countach to the National Historic Vehicle Register in 2021 for the movie’s 40th anniversary, the 30th car to earn such recognition.

The film has so far not made it into the National Film Registry, however.



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