A.K.A The V12 ‘Rambo Lambo’, it was Lamborghini’s true first SUV
Many wrongly believe the Lamborghini Urus to be the Italian company’s first SUV. It was, in fact, the LM002 which was certainly a lot weirder and whackier than the Urus we know today.
Released in 1986, the LM002 was certainly a shock to those in the industry as it sat rather juxtaposed with the tiny and much more fragile Countach. It almost looked as though Lamborghini were regressing back towards their tractor manufacturing days!
In fact, the LM002 was the product of a failed military project where 10 years prior, MIT had commissioned Lamborghini to design a high-performance off-road vehicle for military application. It was to be called the ‘Cheetah’ and although the project failed and never saw the light of day, the workings were not wasted as in-house Lamborghini engineer Giulio Alfieri took plans and used it for the concept SUV named LM001.
Only one LM001 prototype was produced due to the engineers finding that their new SUV had incredibly poor handling whilst accelerating, largely due to the rear-engine configuration, which was, of course, changed in the LM002. Another notable difference was that the LM001 housed an AMC-built V8 rather than the V12 from the Countach.
So, what exactly makes the Rambo Lambo so exceptionally strange? Well, did you know that the tyres on the LM002 are custom? This may not come as much of a shock if you’re familiar with how they look as they’re extremely wide and large in circumference.
Pirelli Scorpion tyres, as they were named, were available in two tread types; one for mixed-use and one for sand-only usage, both of which were run-flats! Just when you think how badly this thing must already handle due to the weight of it and then they add run-flat tyres onto it!
The Lamborghini LM002 was not only available with the Countach’s 5.2-litre petrol engine producing around 450 hp but for the over-zealous, a 7.2-litre V12 powerboat engine was also available making this near-3-tonne SUV even heavier.
The LM002 attracted all the kinds of people you think it would, including Sylvester Stallone (obviously, hence the ‘Rambo Lambo’ name), Mike Tyson, Pablo Escobar and Colonel Gaddafi. Oh, and Tina Turner!
Another unusual fact about the LM002 is that a one-off estate version was made for, you guessed it, the Sultan of Brunei. It featured a raised roof and an enclosed rear section that could now seat 5 people in the back and was modified by a body shop owned by Salvatore Diomante based in Turin, Italy.
All in all, the LM002 isn’t just weird because a supercar company decided to make a hulking off-roader, bearing in mind that this was the 80s before SUVs were the done thing, but it’s also a car with a very strange origin. In the end, Lamborghini’s ‘Cheetah’ lost its military potential with the Humvee winning the US contract instead. It’s still interesting to think, however, of a world where the LM002-like Cheetah was known around the world as America’s military car of choice.
Let us know what you think about the Rambo Lambo in the comments!
If you enjoyed this, you may also like: ‘The Naran Hypercar: 0-60 In 2.3 Seconds’
For more articles like this, receive our weekly e-newsletter, including partner deals and all things motoring, register your email below.