The Lamborghini LM002 was born into in a world where the “utility” part of Sport Utility Vehicle was still the focus, and luxury (let alone a status-symbol badge on the hood) wasn’t even part of the discussion about what off-road capable vehicles needed. Times have changed; luxe SUVs and crossovers are dominant, and you’re hard-pressed to find a true no-nonsense off-road brawler.
For that, we can at least partially
blame thank the Lambo LM002, which we get a closer look at in this episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
As Leno points out in the video, the LM002 is an evolution of the Lamborghini Cheetah, a project farmed out to Lamborghini by Mobility Technology International, who were themselves contracted by the US military to develop a new all-terrain vehicle. Despite its intimidating stature, the Cheetah never saw any real military use — mainly due to its poor handling and anemic rear-mounted Chrysler powerplant.
However, it did apparently see some legal trouble related to the Humvee prototype, another part of the car’s convoluted origin story. After that was settled, Lambo tried again with the LM001 and (for whatever reason) sourced 360-cubic inches of rear-mounted AMC power. This lateral move resulted in the same problems present in the first prototype — lack of power and subpar handling.
Finally, Lambo stepped up to the plate and stuffed the 5.2-liter V12 from the Countach under the hood, this time mouted in the front of an all-new chassis. The result was the LM002.
The car shown here is a well-maintained example of what the LM002 truly represents: outrageous luxury. Don’t let the Kevlar-reinforced tires fool you; outside of the desert playgrounds of crazy-rich oil sheiks, these things saw about as much off-road use as a Porsche Cayenne or Bentley Bentayga will. The well-appointed interior hints at more civilized intent with its leather and wood trimmings.
So next time you look at a hyper-luxe SUV, think of its forefather. Sure, Range Rovers were always relatively well-appointed, but they certainly weren’t as off-the-wall luxurious as this Countach-powered mall-terrain-vehicle.