Luxury automaker Lamborghini has always been known all over the world for its high-end, high-performing vehicles. A symbol of status, wealth, and even power, the Lamborghini represents the best-of-the-best in the automobile world. And while you may associate the brand Lamborghini with sleek, quick cars, that’s not the only thing Lamborghini has designed. Here’s how the first Lamborghini truck almost made it into the U.S. military fleet.
How Lamborghini attempted to win over the U.S. military
Back in the 1970s, Lamborghini was much like other automakers. Due to a global recession and oil crisis, Lamborghini was struggling to stay afloat. In order to keep making money, Lamborghini decided to start taking on contracts.
And one subcontract, in particular, could turn it all around: a subcontract for the American military. The U.S. military was looking for new, better vehicles and Lamborghini decided to take on the challenge of designing its first military truck.
The military-focused Lamborghini truck first debuted in 1977, but was a “failure from the start,” according to We Are the Mighty. Dubbed the Cheetah, this Lamborghini truck/SUV hybrid was redesigned and made into three different and expensive prototypes.
But even after three attempts, the U.S. military simply wasn’t interested in putting its soldiers into a Lamborghini Cheetah. The contract instead, went to Humvee. Not only did the American military decline the contract, but the lack in a return on its investment even put Lamborghini “out of business for a while.” Why was the Lamborghini Cheetah such a failure?
The design of the Cheetah Lamborghini truck
The Cheetah was an ultimate, off-road vehicle that could carry machine guns and haul anti-tank missiles. The Lamborghini Cheetah military truck was designed with a large, rear-mounted engine that disrupted the vehicle’s weight distribution and therefore, the truck’s handling.
Though it could reach over 100 mph, the eight-cylinder engine seemed to lack power. According to The Drive, Lamborghini went with a sheet-steel construction for the Cheetah’s final design, along with a waterproof engine compartment, and low-pressure tires for harsher riding elements.
And unbeknownst to Lamborghini, another Army subcontractor had already produced an almost identical design. Adding insult to injury, Lamborghini was sued by FMC for infringing on its own design of a similar vehicle produced in 1969. According to AutoTrader, this meant that Lamborghini’s military truck dreams were at a stand-still.
Plans continue on for a Lamborghini truck
The brand never gave up on the idea of a Lamborghini truck and continued to explore different avenues for its design. Only a few short years later, Lamborghini debuted the LM001 at the 1981 Geneva Auto Show, with the LM standing for “Lamborghini Militaria.”
Showing Lamborghini’s continued desire to built a light tactical military vehicle, the LM001 was delivered as both a military and consumer product. But the LM001 shared many of the same performance problems as its predecessor. After quickly giving up on that design, the LM001 was reinvigorated in 1982 with a front-mounted engine, and transformed into LMA001.
The latest attempt at a Lamborghini truck/SUV is the LM002, which received a souped-up, far superior, 12-cylinder engine. As the lovechild of the LMA001, the LM002 entered limited production with a high sticker price of $120,000.
Though Lamborghini failed to find any military buyers for the LM002, nicknamed “Rambo Lambo,” it did offer civilian versions with over-the-top, luxurious interiors. Less than 330 LM002s were made. According to Business Insider, the “Rambo Lambo” became popular with high-powered buyers all over the world, including Sylvester Stallone, Mike Tyson, Tina Turner, and even kingpin Pablo Escobar.
Lamborghini didn’t stop there either, making two more truck prototypes between the years 1987 and 1993. The LM003 and LM004, however, never made it to the production phase.