In 1977, Lamborghini unveiled the Cheetah at the Geneva Auto Show which was intended for US Military use and was the first off-road vehicle that Lamborghini had produced. This car would in years to come be the first of a line which would inspire the LM002 and later the Lamborghini Urus. It would also land them in a legal battle as they had essentially just copied the FMC XR311 seen below.
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The Cheetah was designed with a large waterproof 5.9 Liter Chrysler V8 and given it was a Lamborghini they put the engine in the only place which made sense, in the rear. The engine only produced 180 bhp and given the weight of the engine, the chassis and the fiberglass body, the vehicle was under powered and handled poorly because of the engine position. The project was a flop and the military contract was given to AM motors and their Humvee vehicle. The failed contract and financial issues caused a knock on effect of BMW scrapping a contract with Lamborghini and develop a car in house which would become the BMW M1.
The BMW M1 which Lamborghini was initially commissioned to design and build but instead was developed in house by BMW
After they had determined that mounting the V8 over the rear of the vehicle they continued development of their next prototype SUV the LMA002. This time they decided to take the engine from the Countach and place it at the front, the new V12 SUV also gained an entirely newly developed chassis. After much testing, it was creatively named the LM002 and unveiled at the 1986 Brussels Auto Show and they continued trying to get military contracts around the world for the vehicle. At the time the Mimran brothers owned the company and were trying to bring it back from its previous bankruptcy, as such a military contract would have been ideal. This never happened in the end.
The civilian version of the LM002, dubbed the Rambo Lambo, were fitted with a full on luxury package including leather trim, a powerful sound system and of course tinted windows. Their plan was to sell them to the wealthy Saudi Arabians as this kind of vehicle was a hard sell in the US at the time which was going through another oil crisis.
They went to Pirelli and commissioned tires purpose designed for the vehicle which had a run flat thread, meaning they could run even when virtually flat, and survive the desert heat even under full load and at speed. They also fitted it with a 169-liter fuel tank so it could handle longer journeys unimpeded.
It was extremely quick for an SUV of this type at the time, it had a top speed of 118 mph and a 0-60 of 7.7 seconds, which was twice as fast as the nearest Range Rover at the time.
All in all, 328 were produced and two in particular have an interesting history. One was converted into an estate with a higher roof for the Sultan of Brunei and another was taken from Uday Hussain in Iraq and used to test the effects of a car bomb in 2004. It was also featured in the fourth Fast and Furious film of the same name.
Estate version for the Sultan of Brune
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