It was one of the smallest features of the striking Countach LP500 prototype, but it would end up characterising the entire production run of the iconic Countach LP400. I’m of course refering to the “periscope” rear view concept, giving the roof of the LP400 its distinct shape.
Whose idea it was to implement this mirror system is unknown, but the thought was that this system would provide a better rear view than traditional mirrors, allowing the driver to look out from atop the roof instead of through the rear window. Donnelly Corp. in USA delivered the periscope mirror system, which had previously been used in some ESV (Experimental Safety Vehicle) projects. However, during testing, it became obvious that this solution would not be ideal, as it’s high positioning meant the driver would have to take his eyes and focus off the road to use it. The height of the mirror system also entailed a small bulge had to be added to the roof line of the Countach LP500, a bulge no-one wanted. Consequently, the “periscope” mirror setup was abandoned.
Oddly enough, the “periscope” roof shape, even slightly re-designed to remove the roof’s bulge found on the LP500 prototype, entered production as part of the LP400, now serving no obvious use except perhaps letting more light into the cabin and adding rigidity to the roof structure. The angled shape of the depression in the roof matched very well the angles of the rear section of the Countach, and it can be argued that the use of this roof shape could be justified from a design perspective alone.
Countach LP500 (1971)
Countach LP400 (1973)
This article was first published on lovecars.com.