If you’re a product of the 1980’s there’s no way you don’t remember the movie ‘The Cannonball Run.’ The film’s opening scene starts with an iconic Lamborghini Countach being chased by a second-gen Trans-Am police car. While the film is fantastic, the Countach captivated the audience, impacting car lovers for decades. It was not uncommon at this time to find posters of the famous V-12 powered supercar on the walls of kids and teens alike.
Ironically, we watched this movie again a few weeks back, reliving our childhood and talking about how cool the Lambo is still today. Due to our line of work, when we see a vehicle, a thought always comes to mind, “would you LS-swap that?” Knowing the history of the Countach’s mighty V-12, when this question arose, knowing how much of a nightmare the powerplant tends to be for dependability and maintenance, we would definitely perform an engine swap to the right car. Acknowledging that, I would probably never own one, I didn’t put much thought into it. However, I was forced to revisit my thoughts a couple of days later while perusing the depths of an LS-swap Facebook page.
When we first saw the post, I thought that the owner had obviously posted in the wrong group. The black 1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000QV owned by Dave Selph looked immaculate, and there were no shots of the engine bay. So, we reached out to Dave to get the details on this 1980’s legend.
Like most of us, Selph is a car guy and has been all of his life. He’s owned a ton of cars and trucks, including hotrods, muscle cars, 4×4’s, and GMC Syclone, among several others. After he watched The Cannonball Run in the theaters, it immediately became his dream car. He even had a Countach poster on his wall as a kid.
In 2009 Selph had an opportunity to purchase a Countach 5000S, but he passed because he would need to sell a couple of cars, one of which was a rock crawler that his kids enjoyed. A couple of years ago, he decided it was finally time to pull the trigger on a Lambo, but there was a problem. The Countach’s had skyrocketed in price, pushing them into the $400,000-$500,000 range. So he started looking for the next best thing, a Countach replica.
Some of the Lamborghini replicas on the market start with a Pontiac Fiero chassis. As you can imagine, these cars are not great. Selph said, “In the replica world, the range of quality, accuracy, performance, and price range from inferior quality body kits on a non-stretched Pontiac Fiero chassis with the stock drivetrain for around $10,000 to high-quality tube chassis accurate replicas with V8-V12 engines for $100,000. There are very few of the latter in the US.”
After searching for a couple of years, Selph spotted a beautiful replica in Canada, but due to emissions, he couldn’t figure out a way to get the car through US Customs. When he had just about given up on his dream, he found one. The owner of a 1990 Armstrong custom tube chassis Countach with an Easton body listed it for sale. Selph said, “It was a replica of a 1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000QV with a tube chassis, coil overs, sway bars, correct dimensions, with several recent upgrades. It was originally an LT1, but he was getting ready to perform a 5.3 LS swap.” The two agreed on a price, and while the owner continued the LS swap, Selph sold a few cars to finance the Countach, including his GMC Syclone, that now resides in Norway.
In late December 2019, Selph made the trip to Oklahoma, and purchased the car from his now good friend Dustin and trailered it back to Illinois.
The engine, at the moment, is a basic 5.3-liter iron block with cathedral Heads. An LS1 intake and oil pan were used on the swap along with a polished throttle body, headers, Spec clutch, Getrag 5-speed, and a Walbro fuel pump. Selph said, “I’ve been tweaking and upgrading things on the car since I brought it home and will continue to do so. At some point, I would like to add a supercharger to the LS to step up the game.”
The car is certainly stunning with the black paint and iconic 8.5 x15-inch front and massive 12×15-inch rear gold Phone Dial wheels wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero tires. “I wasn’t fully prepared for the amount of attention the car gathers,” Selph explained. “There is no comparison to any car that I’ve ever owned. The public views it as a rock star. Everyone always has their phones out while driving, often nearly running into me or running off the road while taking pictures or videos. Anywhere that I stop to fill up with fuel or take photos, it instantly draws a crowd. You can’t be in a hurry when you stop somewhere in this car. I often tell the parents that their kids can sit in it and get a picture. Hopefully, that sparks a little bit of interest in the kids to turn them into future car enthusiasts.”
So what’s it like to drive a 1987 Lamborghini Countach 5000QV replica? Selph said, “It’s undoubtedly the most uncomfortable car I’ve ever driven and has the worst visibility. However, It handles great, and every time that I drive it, that smile on my face is worth it. After all, I’m driving my dream car that was once just a poster on the wall.”