The iconic Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S that featured in the blockbusting movie ‘The Cannonball Run’ is now included on the National Historic Vehicle Register of the U.S. Library of Congress and will be on display to the public inside a glass case on the National Mall in Washington D.C.
While the Countach needs little introduction with its sharp angles and idiosyncratic wedge shape, the definitive ‘Supercar’ never really achieved the dizzy selling heights of its stylish predecessor, the Miura. Nonetheless, it was a trail-blazing stallion that ripped up the previously definitive sports-car rule book.
This particular 1979 Lamborghini Countach LP 400 S, chassis number 1121112, is best known for its iconic status in the 1981 comedy film The Cannonball Run. Exactly 40 years after the film’s release the stylish Italian has made history by being included on the National Historic Vehicle Register of the United States Library of Congress, managed by Hagerty Driver’s Foundation and is now on the elite shortlist of just 30 cars to date considered of national importance for the United States.
When The Cannonball Run hit the screens back in June 1981 with a plot based on the real-life secret race that had taken place for several years between the east and west coasts of the United States, few foresaw the enormous success it would have and its importance in the history of American culture.
Back in the days when 55 mph (88 km/h) was in effect the dream of any kind of speed, even just slightly higher, was severely frowned upon by the police. During the same years, a group of passionate motorists decided to challenge the system by racing across the continent in the least amount of time from downtown Manhattan in New York to a marina on the Pacific Ocean at Redondo Beach in California.
Hollywood screenwriters were quick to recognise the significance of the movie, choosing the most representative cars of the era driven by a star-studded cast including the likes of Roger Moore, Burt Reynolds, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior, and the effervescent Farrah Fawcett.
The undisputed heavyweight, and in the film the winner of the race, was the 1979 Countach LP 400 S, black with mustard yellow interior, chassis #1121112. Right from the three-plus minutes of the opening scene dedicated entirely to the Countach, shot in the desert east of Las Vegas and using the sound of the V12 and its six carburetors as the soundtrack, the Countach was one of the biggest stars of the movie and had the audience dreaming.
The car was delivered new to Lamborghini’s distributor in Rome at the time, SEA Auto, and was immediately exported to the United States and sold in Florida. In 1980, the owner, a friend of the film’s director Hal Needham, loaned it to him for filming. The Countach was modified for the movie with the addition of a front spoiler, twin spotlights, three antennas, and 12 exhaust pipes. It was noticed on the set by Ron Rice, founder of the sunscreen brand Hawaiian Tropic that was famous for its motorsport sponsorships, who fell in love with it and bought it on the spot. He kept it till 2004 when it was sold to attorney and Lamborghini aficionado Jeff Ippoliti of Florida, who still owns it.
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