Back when the Lamborghini LM002 was introduced in the mid-eighties
there was no real competition. Sure there were Range Rovers
and similarly luxurious 4x4's but there were none which were
quite as ostentatious, expensive and unusual as the LM002. Nowadays
a large proportion of luxury car manufacturers produce 4x4 models
including Porsche, BMW, Audi and Cadillac, and soon Spyker will
have their own 4x4.
When the LM002 was conceived it was initially designed to suit
military applications. Lamborghini developed the LM002 under
contract from an American company called Mobility Technology
International (MTI). It was hoped that the model could be sold
in bulk to various armies as a way of quickly increasing Lamborghini's
bank balance, while at the same time offering Lamborghini a
chance to further develop its road cars.
The Lamborghini LM002 was first shown in concept form way back
in 1977, at the Geneva Motor Show. At its unveiling it was called
the Cheetah. It was a doorless, four seat vehicle which was
powered by a 5.9 litre Chrysler V8 which produced 183 hp. Unfortunately
for Lamborghini the Cheetah's design was obviously lifted from
Ford's XR-311 due to some rather underhanded corporate espionage
from MTI. Ford were so incensed by the Cheetah's copycat design
they even threatened to sue Lamborghini if they took the program
any further - so they didn't, which didn't matter much anyway
because the US military went with GM's Humvee anyway.
In 1978 Lamborghini went into receivership, largely due to the
Cheetah and MTI debacle. For several years Lamborghini battled
on under the receivers, then in 1981 the company was bought
by Patrick and Jean-Claude Mimran. After buying Lamborghini
the brothers found out how much the company had poured into
the development of the Lamborghini off-road project, and decided
the company should continue, albeit with a bit of a redesign.
The first prototype was called the LM001, the name stood for
Lamborghini Militaria No.1. This vehicle was powered by a mid-rear
mounted AMC engine which spewed out 180 horsepower. The next
major development came just a year later when Lamborghini revealed
the LMA002. The 'A' stood for 'anterior', which translates to
'front' to describe the engines new mounting location. With
the LMA002 Lamborghini also gave up on the idea of producing
a vehicle to suit the US Army, this meant they could now use
an Italian drivetrain. You can almost imagine it... Luigi what's
this? A 4.8 litre V12 from the Countach you say, with 332 horsepower?
Yes that'll work.
After the LMA002 came a couple other prototypes but the definitive
model was the LM002. This came fitted with a 5.2 litre Quattrovale
V12 which churned out a mighty 450 horsepower. Despite its massive
bulk the LM002 could reach 60 mph in just 7.7 seconds, on its
way to a 130 mph top speed.
Despite all the effort, and the better part of a decade that
had gone into developing the Lamborghini LM002 as a military
vehicle, it was only bought by a handful of countries - mainly
Saudi Arabia and Libya. Most LM002's were bought by obscenely
rich private buyers.
During the few years it was on sale it's price tag was nearly
three times that of a fully equipped Range Rover, and it matched
the Countach for price. In total only 301 LM002's were made
by the time production ceased in 1990.