Lamborghini, like virtually every luxury-car brand, is busy right now cooking up a new SUV. But unlike most, it actually has some 4×4 history to draw on. In 1986, Lambo launched the LM002, a Countach-powered off-roader that perfectly symbolizes its era. In anticipation of the upcoming Urus’s debut, Lamborghini just sent us a whole bunch of pictures of an LM002 recently restored by its Polo Storico division. Here’sthe history of the original Rambo Lambo.
Though it was launched in 1986, the LM002’s story started nearly ten years earlier. In 1977, Lamborghini built a military vehicle prototype for US defense contractor Mobility Technology International.
Called the Cheetah, this prototype featured a permanent four-wheel drive system and, bizarrely, a rear-mounted Chrysler V8. As a result, its handling was wayward at best, but one prototype was completed and tested around the world.
The Cheetah project was subsequently cancelled, and the whole debacle was so expensive, it contributed to Lamborghini’s 1978 bankruptcy.
But! Lamborghini wasn’t done with the idea of a rear-engine off-roader. In 1981, the automaker debuted this, the LM001, an evolution of the Cheetah featuring an AMC V8. It still suffered from poor handling, so the idea was eventually scrapped.
By the mid-1980s, Lamborghini was in much better fortunes. The wealthy Swiss Mirman family took over the company in 1984, and in 1986 the LM002 made its debut at the Brussels Motor Show.
Lamborghini ditched the rear-engine layout, replaced it with something equally outlandish – the V12 engine from the Countach.
That V12 was the same four-valve 5.2-liter unit used in the Countach Quattrovalvole. It produced 450 horsepower at 6800 rpm and was mated to a five-speed manual transmission. That made the LM002 among the most powerful vehicles sold at the time. Madness.
In total, the LM002 weighed nearly three tons and had specially designed Pirelli Scorpion run-flat tires.
The LM002 utilized a steel tubular space frame with body panels made from aluminum and fiberglass. The body was built in Spain and was shipped to Lamborghini’s Sant’Agata Bolognese factory for assembly.
Despite being a rough-and-ready off-roader with four-wheel drive and three locking differentials, the LM002 was quite luxurious. Its interior featured all the leather you could hope for.
Lamborghini’s wealthy customers presumably demanded such luxuries. Sylvester Stallone famously owned an LM002, giving it its nickname, the “Rambo Lambo.”
Lamborghini history site Lambocars reports that Tina Turner, Malcolm Forbes, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Tyson, and Keke Rosberg all owned LM002s at some point.
Lamborghini says just 300 LM002s were built between 1986 and 1992. An “estate” version with a full trunk was created for the Sultan of Brunei.
Today, Lamborghini is designing an all-new SUV, the Urus, set to be released later this year. It’ll be based on the same platform that underpins the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, and it’ll use a 650-hp twin-turbo V8 developed in-house.
Surely the Urus will be much quicker than the LM002, but we just hope it captures some of its predecessor’s absurdity. The LM002 was a gloriously over-the-top product of its time, and Lamborghini would be wise to draw on its spirit.