Rambo Lambo – The Lamborghini LM002

Back before he became a luxury high performance car maker Lamborghini made agricultural tractors. So it comes as no real surprise that even though Lamborghini had moved successfully from tractor production to making some of the most desirable exotic cars on earth that they would try to diversify their product line. Their effort was to try the lucrative market for military vehicles and so, with the intention of building something rather better than a Land Rover or any of the other vehicles that soldiers get moved around in.

Lamborghini were approached by US Military contractor MTI to build a High Mobility Combat Vehicle (HMCV) and they built the Lamborghini Cheetah prototype in 1977 which was very close in design to another vehicle, the FMC XR311, resulting in legal action. Lamborghini’s engineers went back to the drawing board and created a second prototype which was called the LM001.

The LM001, like the 1977 Cheetah, featured a rear mounted American V8 engine and Lamborghini realized that the layout was not ideal for the sort of vehicle they were trying to create: it may have worked for Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, but it wasn’t working for them. The decision was made to shift the engine to the front and instead of using an American V8 engine to install a 5.2 litre Lamborghini V12 as used in the Countach. As development of this new LM002 progressed Lamborghini decided to also offer the 7.2 itre Lamborghini L804 marine V12 as used in Class 1 offshore powerboats as an option.

With development of the LM002 progressing well Lamborghini found there was a dearth of military buyers for the LM002, the Americans having settled on the Humvee instead. Not to be deterred Lamborghini did what they are good at, and stripped out the spartan military interior and replaced it with a beautiful and luxurious Italian leather one. Air-conditioning was integrated as was a ceiling mounted stereo sound system. Lamborghini also contracted with Pirelli to create special tyres for the LM002; a run flat all purpose type, and a specialist sand tyre.


The change of concept of the car from high performance military vehicle to high performance luxury vehicle mean’t that Lamborghini were aiming this luxury LM002 at rich middle-eastern customers, and also at well heeled Americans.

The car made its debut at the 1986 Brussels Auto Show and it was named the “Rambo Lambo” by the motoring press. The LM002 remained in production until 1993 with a total of 328 being made: it remains one of the most high performance off-road vehicles ever made having a standing to 60 mph time of just 7.7 seconds. It is also one of the most luxurious off-road vehicles ever made.

The Lamborghini LM002 LM/American

The car you see here is one of the rare LM/American examples, just 48 were built, from a total production run of 301 LM002s. When it was delivered new in Florida in 1990 it had an MSRP of $158,000 – that’s over $300,000 in today’s money.

It has recently been through a comprehensive $325,000 five year restoration, bringing the car back to its former glory, keeping its original color scheme of Nero over a new black interior. The Lamborghini Countach V12 was rebuilt, a new exhaust system was fitted, with a full new interior, and a full set of new Pirelli Scorpion LM002 tires – not easy to find.

It’s due to be sold by RM Sotheby’s on the 6th of December in New York with an estimated hammer price of between $400,000 and $500,000 – and it’s difficult to imagine it’ll still be possible to pick them up for that kind of money for much longer given their rarity and historic significance.

If you’d like to read more about the LM002 or register to bid you can click here to visit RM Sotheby’s.

Images: William Walker © Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

Published by Ben Branch -