The Lamborghini LM002 was first shown to the world at the Geneva Auto Show in 1982, but it wouldn’t become available to buy until 1986. It quickly earned the “Rambo Lambo” nickname, though Lamborghini themselves have never used it.

The LM002 would be the world’s first production “super SUV,” a market segment now occupied by vehicles like the Mercedes-AMG G 65, Ferrari Purosangue, Bentley Bentayga, Aston Martin DBX, Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Range Rover, and of course, the Lamborghini Urus.

Fast Facts – The Lamborghini LM002

  • The Lamborghini LM002 entered production 1986, it originated from Lamborghini’s Militaria project aimed at producing military vehicles. This project followed two unsuccessful prototypes, the Lamborghini Cheetah and LM001, which were never mass-produced. The LM002 was powered by a V12 engine from the Lamborghini Countach and featured an all-new tubular steel chassis with an angular aluminum and fiberglass body designed by Giulio Alfieri.
  • The LM002 was notable for its capabilities in deep sand, making it popular in the Middle East. It included independent double-wishbone suspension, four-wheel disc brakes, a quad-cam 5.2 liter V12 engine producing 444 bhp, and a luxurious interior with ample wood grain and leather. The vehicle, weighing 2,700 kgs, could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph in 7.8 seconds and reach a top speed of over 130 mph, making it one of the quickest SUVs of its time (if not the quickest outright).
  • Dubbed the “Rambo Lambo” by the public (a name not officially used by Lamborghini), the LM002 quickly became popular among celebrities and the wealthy, with notable owners including Sylvester Stallone, Tina Turner, and Mike Tyson. Despite its popularity and hundreds of orders, production ceased in 1991 due to the high cost of manufacturing. Lamborghini did not produce another SUV until the Urus was introduced 27 years later.
  • The 1988 Lamborghini LM002 shown in the article is finished in Acapulco Blue with a Grigio leather interior and has only 17,273 kilometers on the odometer. Initially sold in Sweden and later displayed in Italy’s Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum, it passed through several owners and is now being auctioned by RM Sotheby’s with a price guide of £225,000 – £275,000 ($285,000 – $350,000 USD).

The Lamborghini Militaria Project

The model name “LM002” stands for “Lamborghini Militaria #2,” as it would be the second vehicle in this series after the earlier Lamborghini LM001 that never made it past the prototype stage. There had actually been one even earlier prototype, called the Lamborghini Cheetah, but this vehicle also never made it past the prototype stage.

Lamborghini Cheetah Prototype

Image DescriptionThis is the Lamborghini Cheetah, it was the first vehicle produced by Lamborghini Militaria, though it was actually built under contract by in the United States by Mobility Technology International (MTI). Image courtesy of Lamborghini Militaria.

Lamborghini Militaria had been established in the 1970s to create a new wing of the Italian automaker focussed on producing military vehicles, and hopefully winning some lucrative military contracts.

Lamborghini Marine had been established around the same time to make marinized V12 engines for high-speed racing boats, these projects may have contributed to Lamborghini’s financial woes in the late 1970s, with the company entering bankruptcy in 1978. It was later rescued by new investors.

The first Lamborghini Militaria vehicle, the Cheetah, had actually been developed in the United States by Mobility Technology International (MTI) in 1977, taking quite a bit of inspiration from the FMC XR311 prototype. The Cheetah had a rear-mounted Chrysler V8 engine, an automatic transmission, a steel chassis, and a fiberglass body. It was never adopted by any military, and never entered production.

The Lamborghini LM001 was built in 1981, it was a prototype off-road vehicle designed and built by Lamborghini, and it looked much like a cross between the earlier Cheetah and the forthcoming LM002. Still with a rear mounted American V8, this time from AMC, the off-road handling of the LM001 was deemed poor, and thus a new front-engined vehicle was developed to replace it.

The Arrival Of The Lamborghini LM002

The first front-engined Lamborghini Militaria vehicle would be the Lamborghini LM002, it would be powered by a version of the Lamborghini Countach V12, and it would reach production with an eventual 301 examples built.

Lamborghini LM001 Prototype

Image DescriptionThis is the Lamborghini LM001, it was built by Lamborghini Militaria in Italy, and it includes many styling cues that would make it onto the later LM002. Perhaps the single largest change was the switch from a rear-mounted American V8 to a front-mounted Lamborghini Countach V12. Image courtesy of Lamborghini Militaria.

An all new tubular steel chassis was developed for the LM002, and it was given an angular body designed by Giulio Alfieri, and made from aluminum and fiberglass. In the words of Lamborghini, “aerodynamics and lightweight principles were put aside in order to build a real off-road giant, able to “intimidate the enemy.””

The LM002 was one of the most advanced four wheel drives in the world at the time of its release, with independent double-wishbone suspension front and back, four wheel disc brakes, a luxuriously appointed interior with ample wood grain and leather, and perhaps most importantly there was a quad cam 5.2 liter V12 under the hood producing 444 bhp.

With a curb weight of 2,700 kgs (5,952 lbs) and a height, length, and width of 1,850 mm (72.8″)  x 4,790 mm (188.6″) x 2,000 mm (78.7″), the LM002 was no shrinking violet. Despite this heft, the vehicle could do the 0-62 mph dash in just 7.8 seconds and from there on to a top speed of 210 km/h or 130+ mph.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, celebrities and other wealthy people stepped forward in their droves to buy their own LM002. Fittingly, Rambo himself, Sylvester Stallone, had one, as did Tina Turner, Formula 1 World Champion Keke Rosberg, the Sultan of Brunei, Mike Tyson, and Eddie Van Halen among many others.

In 1991 Lamborghini disappointed many by announcing that the LM002 would be leaving production permanently. They are said to have had hundreds of orders yet to be filled for the car, perhaps as many as 800+, however the high cost of production meant that it just wasn’t economically viable to build.

After the LM002 Lamborghini wouldn’t produce another SUV until 27 years later, when the Lamborghini Urus debuted to fill the hole in the Lamborghini model line up that had been created by its forefather all the way back in 1986.

The 1988 Lamborghini LM002 Shown Here

The 1988 Lamborghini LM002 you see here is finished in Acapulco Blue over a Grigio leather interior, and it has just 17,273 kilometers (10,732 miles) on the odometer since new.

Lamborghini LM002 3

Image DescriptionDespite the rugged, military look of the LM002, the interior is beautifully appointed with leather upholstery, wood trim, power steering, power windows, a stereo, air conditioning, and more, making it one of the best-equipped 4x4s of its time.

This vehicle was delivered new to its first owner in Sweden, it later made it way back to Italy where it was displayed at the Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum in Bologna. Later the car was registered in the Netherlands, then the UK where it received a service by DK Engineering in 2015 that cost £10,177.

It’s now due to roll across the auction block with RM Sotheby’s on the 12th of June with a price guide of £225,000 – £275,000 or approximately $285,000 – $350,000 USD. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can visit the listing here.

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Images: Neil Fraser ©2024 Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Published by Ben Branch -