Throughout the years, the word Countach has been translated as "cool", "awesome" or "wow" by the British press, which is fairly accurate given how its an expletive used to convey a sense of startled astonishment, or wonder. Most people learnt about it from a 2003 episode of Top Gear, in which presenter James May had this to say about the word's origins: "a bit of Italian slang, it translates roughly as “Wooa!”
Problem is, it's not really Italian. It's Piedmontese.
Piedmontese is a Romance language spoken by some 2-3 million people in Piedmont, the northwestern region of Italy. Back in 1971, there was a tall profiler working at Lamborghini from there, alongside Marcello Gandini and Bob Wallace on the yellow show car that became the Countach.
Bertone's concepts were functional, which meant long hours for the team working on them. Following its 1971 debut at the Geneva Motor Show, the Countach took an additional four years to make production ready, during which Ferruccio Lamborghini sold off his company to Georges-Henri Rossetti and René Leimer. Yet its badge got signed off long before the crowd could see where Gandini's design language would evolve from the 1968 Alfa Romeo 33 Carabo.
But why did Lamborghini brake away from the tradition of naming its cars after famous bulls and breeds? , Countach! stated out as a joke. But since it sounded so good in English, they just went with the Piedmontese equivalent of "amazement":
When we made cars for the car shows, we worked at night and we were all tired, so we would joke around to keep our morale up. There was a profiler working with us who made the locks. He was two meters tall with two enormous hands, and he performed all the little jobs. He spoke almost only Piedmontese, didn’t even speak Italian. Piedmontese is much different from Italian and sounds like French. One of his most frequent exclamations was ‘countach’, which literally means plague, contagion, and is actually used more to express amazement or even admiration, like ‘goodness’. He had this habit. When we were working at night, to keep our morale up, there was a jousting spirit, so I said we could call it Countach, just as a joke, to say an exaggerated quip, without any conviction. There nearby was Bob Wallace, who assembled the mechanics – we always made the cars operational. At that time you could even roll into the car shows with the car running, which was marvelous. So jokingly I asked Bob Wallace how it sounded to an Anglo-Saxon ear. He said it in his own way, strangely. It worked. We immediately came up with the writing and stuck it on. But maybe the real suggestion was the idea of one of my co-workers, a young man who said let’s call it that. That is how the name was coined. This is the only true story behind this word.
Crazy? Certainly not. But one could argue that the whole process was very Countach.