The Good Oil: Cannonball Run Lambo is officially ‘historic’
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The Lamborghini Countach is arguably the world’s most famous poster-car, but what’s the world’s most famous Countach? The 1979 LP 400 S that starred in the 1981 movie The Cannonball Run must surely be a candidate now: exactly 40 years after the film’s release, it’s been added to the National Historic Vehicle Register of the United States Library of Congress – one of just 30 cars on the list.
That’s some highbrow stuff for a pretty lowbrow movie. But it is a movie of massive cultural significance, and based on a real event. In 1974 a strict 55mph (88km/h) speed limit was imposed in the US; an illegal coast-to-coast road race sprang up in protest, the aim being to get from downtown Manhattan in New York to Redonda Beach in California (about 4700km) in the shortest possible time. It did, and still does, attract all manner of exotic cars.
The movie was a more cartoonish version of the race, starring the big names of the time: Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Junior and Farrah Fawcett. American motoring journalist Brock Yates, who instigated the real-world run, wrote the screenplay and had a cameo as the race organiser.
The movie’s entire three-and-half minute opening sequence was devoted to the Countach, in black with mustard yellow interior, chassis #1121112. It belonged to a friend of the movie’s director, ex-stuntman and BFF of Burt Reynolds, Hal Needham.
The Countach was modified for the movie with a front spoiler, twin spotlights, three antennas and 12 exhaust pipes. Makes perfect sense.
It was noticed on the set by Ron Rice, founder of the sunscreen brand Hawaiian Tropic that was famous for its motorsport sponsorships, who bought it on the spot. He kept it until 2004, when it was sold to attorney and Lamborghini aficionado Jeff Ippoliti of Florida, who still owns it.