Story and photos by Guy Anderson
As you have presumably or at least hopefully read in Part 3 of the Desert Countach, we picked up the ex-Sheikh’s Lambo after it had been thoroughly trashed by over eager cargo workers at the airport.
After driving to N.Y. with the slowest-ever Longchamps to pick up the Countach at the airport, we headed for a gas station to fuel them up since the Countach was sitting dead on empty. We found a gas station just a few blocks from the cargo gate. The Countach was starting to warm up after driving her to take on fuel in both tanks. As the engine oil warmed so came the smoke. The car was now looking more like a freight train smoking up the countryside rather than this gorgeous exotic Italian sports car. Surprisingly, the car ran exceptionally well considering the Smoky-Joe this car had become. I recalled what I had been told by the cargo worker:
The young cargo worker told us that the workers had been racing the Lamborghini down the runway all night long. “They started at midnight and ran that car until 4:00 or 5:00 AM to see if they could get it past 200 mph.”
Barry tried to get my attention but I was still in the Countach. I opened up the door and he yelled, “I can’t say until you turn off that mosquito fogger.” Barry looked past me to the rear of the car and just laughed even more. “That turd smokes even when it’s not running,” he said. I turned around and saw the smoke still rising from the rear of the car and broke out laughing. The problem was we were in the city with groups of people yelling at us on the side of the road, some good, some not so good, but this is New York. With that, off we went, smoking up the Big Apple.
I was following Barry while he was driving the Longchamp as we then approached a tunnel. Barry went in first, I then proceeded. By this time, the car was up to full operating temperature and really smoking. When I was fully into the tunnel, the smoke behind me had other drivers turning on their lights and some finally had to stop since they no longer could see to continue. Then the New Yorkers starting honking and some stood on their horns.
The Countach exited the tunnel and a man stood in the middle of the road with a dark blue uniform on, he was waving me over to the shoulder. He appeared to look like a police man or maybe an agent of the tunnel authority, so I complied. I received a verbal thrashing from the gentleman for clogging up his tunnel. The uniformed officer told me I was polluting his city and was a hazard to all the drivers of N.Y. By this time, Barry came up and we both described how it was the cargo workers at J.F.K. who created this mess by drag racing my Lamborghini down the 14,000 ft. runway in the middle of the night.
We all then noticed there was no traffic coming out of the tunnel. The officer said it would take a few minutes to clear the air so the drivers can see in order to continue through the tunnel. The officer told me he had a good mind to have the car towed but since we were leaving his city he said “Go!… get the hell out of here with that thing. I never want to see you guys here in my city again!” Well!
In New Jersey we stopped at a parkway plaza for refreshments and several cans of oil. The Countach was getting amazing mileage since the fuel gauge was still on full. The Longchamp really looked beautiful while driving next to the Countach. The car sounded wonderful with the bellow of the exhaust that is so soothing to listen to. The two cars were running nicely but we were stopping every 100 miles to add in some more oil.
It was somewhere in Delaware, I was driving the Lamborghini at 60 -70 miles per hour and the all of a sudden the dreaded sound of nothing. The engine sputtered a time or two and then stalled at speed. It sounded a lot like the engine ran out of gas, but the fuel gauge still remained full. I knew the fuel gauge worked since it was on empty in N.Y. prior to our fill-up and I was watching it register as the fuel was being pumped in. I pulled over to investigate.
Finally, after looking under the car, I noticed the cross-over tube that linked the two gas tanks was crushed. It looked like the car was lifted by a fork lift and that resulted in the tube being damaged. The main tank with the fuel gauge could not cross fuel over to the auxiliary feeder tank. The main tank houses the fuel sender and therefore was completely full while the secondary feeder tank was run until it drained. This is most unusual because the cross-over tube is supposed to be routed where it would not be exposed to being crushed. Now we know what the problem is, we just needed a gas can with some gas.
The Longchamp was being very useful as a fuel delivery vehicle. After getting underway with a couple of gallons in the Countach, Barry and I returned to the gas station to fill up both cars and add a few quarts of oil into the Countach. Lucky for me, this Lamborghini carried almost 12 courts of oil in the sump, oil cooler and lines. Without that capacity we would be forever getting back to Georgia with the Countach oil stops alone.
On the road again with fuel and oil the engine was humming on the Countach. Traveling
At speeds of 70 and above it appeared the oil cloud behind the Lamborghini wasn’t so bad. Both Barry and I were looking for a good place to have some early dinner. I noticed in my rear view mirror a single headlight approaching from behind the Lamborghini.
I was hoping the rider noticed the smoke before getting close enough to be sprinkled by the galaxy of black spots the oil will spray onto him and his helmet. He avoided it and It looked like he wanted to challenge the Countach. My passenger window was full open at only 2 inches and when the cycle racer dive bombed me, the screech of the 4 cylinder woke up my ear drums. It was not what I had in mind for that moment but I just let it go.
The sport bike then slowed down and got right up next to my passenger door and downshifted 2 gears with another screaming pass. Now it was getting a little bit aggravating but it was more dangerous for the cycle rider than for me sitting in the car. I attempted to roll up the passenger window but it is too far to reach while driving the wide-body Countach. There was nothing left to do but pour on the coals.
The cyclist has released his throttle to stage another pass when I down shifted from 5th to 3rd. I eased on the gas to do a high speed run and he tried to keep up. I was now in fourth and running the long legged Countach up around 130 MPH with the biker trying to stay with me.
The Lamborghini was in familiar territory and then I gave her the go ahead by gunning the throttle. The car splattered the sport bike rider with a film of oil just like in a James Bond movie. He was a persistent rider up until he heard the Countach grab 5th gear at these speeds. Finally, the bike rider released the throttle to get back to more civilized speeds. Just about that time Barry did a fly by and the wind from the Longchamp shook the Kawasaki just enough to shake up the oil-slicked biker.
Barry and I decided to stop for some dinner around the outskirts of Washington D.C. That is where we talked about looking for a room somewhere in Virginia prior to getting onto I-85 from I-95. It was a lot of fun talking about the biker since both Barry and I own and raced bikes for years. It’s just the type of thing we would do if either of us happened to see a Countach blasting down the interstate with a De Tomaso Longchamp GTS.
They may not know what it is, but they can say they saw one
Every time we stop for food, oil or fuel the people gathered around the cars in amazement. None of the spectators saw these types of cars up close and wanted to know all about them. What kind of engine? What kind of horse power? Where is the engine on that one? Where do you put the fuel? How do you get into that one? What is the MPG for the cars? Is that leather? How much do they cost? Where are you taking them? Where can I get a job like that? And so on, and so on. On the road, fellow travelers became so curious they pulled up to the front to see what the grill emblem says. Completely baffled, some drivers would coast back to the rear of the car and were seen stretching over the steering wheel, desperately trying to read the script. Once the script is read the drivers go on with their journey. They may not know what it is, but they can say they saw one.
During one of our fuel/oil stops in North Carolina I suggested that Barry drive the Countach and I will take the wheel of the De Tomaso. I got no resistance on that one. Headed south with Barry driving the Countach was nothing short of remarkable. The people around the car would just drive down the road studying the lines of the Countach.
After a while appeared this big black Cadillac driving down I-85 with the Countach side by side. Inside of the Cadillac was a huge man with a foot-long cigar hanging out of his mouth. I noticed he looked like an Italian opera singer, or what looked to be depicted on TV as an Italian opera singer. He was staring at the Countach then he made his way towards the Longchamp and studied that car as well. I looked over at him with his big cigar, his stern facial features, along with the steering wheel firmly stuck against his stomach. He was like a statue up until he gave us the nod. No words need be exchanged by the ‘Big Italian Gentleman’ since all he had to do was give us the nod. The nod of approval just says it all without uttering a word.
So then what happened?
De Tomaso Longchamp
The Longchamp was purchased by my friend the “Bear”. He had the car painted in a candy apple paint by a gentleman who was a farmer in central Georgia. That farmer could not make a decent living selling crops so along with his brother he decided to start a paint and body shop. I think the Lamborghini Countach and Longchamp, along with other exotics, had an intense impact on him and his brother. The “WANT” became so intense, they decided to use the family farm to cultivate and sell Marijuana. This activity resulted in the purchase of several exotic cars to include their dream car, the Lamborghini Countach, although not the black on feature here.
However, driving Lamborghinis in a small rural ‘hick’ town on a farmers salary will get you noticed. These were some of the nicest guys you could ever meet but not the brightest stars in the sky. They offered to take us turkey hunting and to fish the ponds on the property when we picked up the painted Longchamp.
The way I found out about the farmer’s other business was when a former acquaintance of mine who invented and sold the designer drug called Ecstasy, gave me a call from prison. It turns out that he ended up in a cell in Texas with the weed farmer. They were talking about cars and my name came up – imagine that. So, the Ecstasy dealer called me collect to tell me that his bunk mate was the weed farmer who had painted the Longchamps.
I was driving on the same trip from N.Y. on I-85 south to Atlanta and the Countach was spotted by a friend/customer who saw the car driving south while he was driving north to race at Road Atlanta. That next Monday, I was called by the customer inquiring if I might know who had a black Countach that was smoking like a freight train. Oh, did I.
I explained to that customer that the car was from the Middle-East and was a recent arrival. The Lamborghini Countach S had suffered a hole in the piston from the cargo workers antics.The customer told me that he had a race mechanic named “Monk” who could fix anything. He made an offer for the car in ‘as is condition’ that met my obligation and I told him to come and get the car.
I saw the car completed and it was beautiful. The shop had stripped off the silver paint on the wheels and polished the magnesium wheels to highlight the shimmering black. The car was beautiful and ran great.