A Brief History
Lamborghini was clearly ahead of the curve when it came to the SUV trend. Back in 1986 Lamborghini launched the LM002, a forerunner of the high-powered SUVs that we take for granted today.
It all started in 1977 when Lamborghini built a vehicle as a military prototype known as the Cheetah. The Lamborghini Cheetah was never actually tested or even owned by the military, but demonstration runs for military personnel were in fact conducted. Lamborghini was not able to put together a new model lineup based on the Cheetah back, so the Cheetah got sold to another company and slowly got forgotten … but the off-road adventure was far from over for Automobili Lamborghini.
After the Cheetah was sent back to the United States in late 1977 the option of adding an off-road model to the lineup at Lamborghini kept lurking in the back of their heads, and three years later, in 1981 the Geneva Auto Show was the scene for an evolution of the idea in the shape of the LM001.
By the mid-1980s, with the wealthy Swiss Mirman family taking over the company in 1984, the dream continued. Born out of the Lamborghini LM 001 project and the previous Cheetah, the Lamborghini LM 002 was the first real off-road vehicle to be unveiled by Automobili Lamborghini at the Geneva Auto Show in 1982. Its production started in 1986.
Like Nothing Before
There wasn't anything quite like the LM002 when it came out. Lamborghini got rid of the rear-engine layout and opted for a traditional up-front install. The V12 was the same four-valve 5.2-liter unit used in the Countach Quattrovalvole and it was good for 450 horsepower and was mated to a five-speed dogleg manual transmission. That made the LM002 among the most powerful vehicles sold at the time. In total, the LM002 weighed nearly three tons and had specially designed Pirelli Scorpion run-flat tires. The LM 002 was built on a rock-solid aluminum and fiberglass body.
Despite the considerable weight, the performance of the LM002 was on par with the supercars of the day and the interior was more luxurious than you would expect. With its powerful V12 engine and all-wheel drive, the LM 002 could climb a 120% gradient and reached a top speed of 130mph with an acceleration of 0 to 100 in 7.8 seconds. No wind-tunnel testing here, this wall all brute force.
Over the years a few special edition LM002s were built by both the factory and third parties. Most famously, an "estate" version with a full trunk was created for the Sultan of Brunei and it was known as the LM002 Estate. There was also the LM004 with the normal 4.8 liter engine replaced by a more interesting 7.0 liter version.