Find of the Week: 1988 Lamborghini LM002

Our Find of the Week this week is a truck that seemed absurd when new. A monster off-roader from a company that, though it made its name building tractors, should maybe have stuck to cars. But today, its monster V12, absurd tough looks, and off-road capability almost seem ahead of their time. Like the company knew something the rest of us would take 30 years to figure out, and then embrace. It's a Lamborghini LM002. The Rambo Lambo.

The story of the LM002 starts in 1977. After a worldwide economic downturn, Lamborghini's supercar sales had largely dried up. In an attempt to diversify the company, they built a prototype military vehicle, part of a competition to replace the Jeep with something a little more substantial. Called the Cheetah, the prototype used a Chrysler V8 mounted in the rear. It never actually made it to military testing, and only the one prototype was built.

One bankruptcy later, the company tried again. The LM001 was basically a Cheetah again, but with a different, AMC-sourced V8. That didn't fare much better when it was revealed in 1981. Turns out that putting the engine in the rear of a military off-roader wasn't great for handling. The design was also largely a copy of a Ford design, who threatened legal action against Lamborghini and US partner MTI.

Third time's the charm, right? They took the Cheetah and moved the engine to the front – where it should be if you want to seat four people. And since it wasn't headed to a US military test competition, there was no need for a US V8. What engine did they pick? You had best believe they took one out of the Lambo parts bin. A 4.8L V12, borrowed from the Countach.

In 1986, the production model made its debut at the Brussels Auto Show. The V12 had been expanded and was now 5.2L. It put out 450 hp and let the massively heavy LM002 hit 100 km/h in around seven seconds.

While the engine was exotic, the off-road origins meant that this was a surprisingly capable SUV. Three locking differentials for the all-wheel drive system, and a proper transfer case. Special Pirelli tires were run-flat and could float on sand. To a certain extent. It still weighs more than 3,000 kg. It was also extremely luxurious inside, with leather on just about every surface and wood on the rest.

It offered a 169 L fuel tank to feed that massive engine, but what it didn't have was an enclosed cargo area. Drive it hard, and that tank can be emptied with an almost disturbing speed. Expect 30 L/100 km. Or worse. But that's missing the point of this thing.

It was one of the most powerful vehicles you could buy in 1986. But, not surprisingly, it was priced accordingly. In 1988, this was a US $120,000 SUV. That's about four times the price of a Chevrolet Corvette the same year. Or 1.5 times the price of a new Range Rover. But when it came to exclusivity and boldness, nothing could come close.

Just over 300 of the vehicles were produced, so this is an exceedingly rare vehicle. While some were actually sold and used for military service, most went to the rich and famous. This was definitely a style statement at the time. And still is today.

This one, for sale in Gatineau, PQ, might not be a bright red example, but this more restrained beige seems to better suit the LM002's lines. With just 2,252 km on the odometer, it doesn't seem to have been driven much. Which is pretty typical for these SUVs. It's as much about having it as it is about actually driving it.

When new, Lamborghini offered both sand-only tires and a set of tires that was more suited to pavement. The seller says this one has the sand tires. The less commonly picked option.

If you want to go out and show the Urus who's boss, this might be one of the best ways to do it. Arnold may be forever linked with the Hummer, but this one is the Stallone option. And definitely the cooler option.

The Rambo Lambo 1/9/2019 1:19:22 PM