The Rambo Lambo

Written by Chloe Harwood

Today, Lamborghini is known for ultra-high-performance, hand-built sports cars, frequently owned by the rich and famous. In 1986, though, a very different vehicle was built by Lamborghini: a military SUV.  Called the LM002, It was dubbed “Lamborghini truck” or the “Rambo Lambo”, as Sylvester Stallone famously owned one. Needless to say, there is story behind the project.

Ten years previous

Though it was launched in 1986, the LM002’s story began nearly ten years earlier. Its development started at the end of the 1970’s, when the American company MIT commissioned Lamborghini to design a high performance off-road vehicle for military use. Due to a number of reasons, the design project was shelved a few years later but Lamborghini engineer Giulio Alfieri resurrected it in 1981. Dubed the LM 002, Lamborghini presented the final production model of it at the Brussels Auto Show in 1986.

And it was powerful

According to Warren Henry Lamborghini (Miami, FL), the LM002 featured the V12 engine from the Countach Quattrovalvole that provided a 5.2-liter capacity and 450 hp at 6,800 rpm. That made the LM002 among the most powerful vehicles sold at the time, certainly the most powerful SUV. The engine was mated to a five-speed manual ZF transmission, which in turn drove the car’s all-wheel drive system. By the way, LM002 was also available with a 7.2-liter V12 Lamborghini marine engine for customers who had to have even more power.

And fast too

In an aluminum and fiberglass body, with four-wheel drive transmission, transfer case and three self-locking differentials, the SUV could reach speeds of more than 120 MPH and crack 60 MPH in less than eight seconds. Looking great on sophisticated city streets, the LM002 was equally at home in dirt, gravel and snow. In total, the LM002 weighed nearly three tons and was equipped with specially-developed Pirelli Scorpion run-flat tires, allowing ‘floating’ capabilities across soft surfaces such as sand, and highly durable in hot conditions.

Fine Italian construction

The production of the bodies started in a company near Bilbao, Spain. Then the semi-assembled parts were shipped to Sant’Agata Bolognese for completion with the powertrain, mechanical parts, finishing, testing and delivery.

Despite being a rough-and-ready off-roader with an interested military looking at it, the LM002 interior was quite luxurious. Its featured all the leather Lamborghini’s wealthy customers could hope for – leather trim, power windows, AC and a roof-mounted stereo unit.

A six year life span

The production lasted from 1986 to 1992, some of them were used also for some rally programs. In 1988, Lamborghini requested a team of engineers to modified LM002 with the intention to prepare it for participating in the Paris Dakar Rally. Weight was significantly reduced, engine power boosted to 600 hp (450 kW), the car got a full roll cage, Plexiglas windows and GPS equipment. However, the project was shelved and this prototype never competed at the toughest of all rally raids.

The Lamborghini LM002 was limited to only 300 cars and its prices have been rocketing in recent years – today Rambo Lambos sell for $300,000 – 400,000 in the US.

About the author

Chloe Harwood