Remember When Lamborghini Made an SUV?

Back in the 1980s, Lamborghini went mad and built an off-roader with the V12 engine from the Countach. It was glorious.

Lamborghini, like virtually every luxury-car brand, is busy right now cooking up a new SUV. But unlike most, it actually has some 4x4 history to draw on. In 1986, Lambo launched the LM002, a Countach-powered off-roader that perfectly symbolizes its era. In anticipation of the upcoming Urus's debut, Lamborghini just sent us a whole bunch of pictures of an LM002 recently restored by its Polo Storico division. Here's the history of the original Rambo Lambo.

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Though it was launched in 1986, the LM002's story started nearly ten years earlier. In 1977, Lamborghini built for US defense contractor Mobility Technology International.

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Called the Cheetah, this prototype featured a permanent four-wheel drive system and, bizarrely, a rear-mounted Chrysler V8. As a result, its handling was wayward at best, but one prototype was completed and tested around the world.

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There was even a disco-tastic commercial, produced for prospective customers. Unfortunately, the US government wasn't interested as the Cheetah wasn't built here.

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The Cheetah project was subsequently cancelled, and the whole debacle was so expensive, it contributed to Lamborghini's 1978 bankruptcy.

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But! Lamborghini wasn't done with the idea of a rear-engine off-roader. In 1981, the automaker debuted this, the LM001, an evolution of the Cheetah featuring an AMC V8. It still suffered from poor handling, so the idea was eventually scrapped.

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By the mid-1980s, Lamborghini was in much better fortunes. The wealthy Swiss Mirman family took over the company in 1984, and in 1986 the LM002 made its debut at the Brussels Motor Show.

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Lamborghini ditched the rear-engine layout, replaced it with something equally outlandish—the V12 engine from the Countach.

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That V12 was the same four-valve 5.2-liter unit used in the Countach Quattrovalvole. It produced 450 horsepower at 6800 rpm and was mated to a five-speed manual transmission. That made the LM002 among the most powerful vehicles sold at the time. Madness.

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The Countach shown here, a 25th Anniversary model, used a further development of this V12. Can you imagine a better two-car garage than this?

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In total, the LM002 weighed nearly three tons and had specially designed Pirelli Scorpion run-flat tires.

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The LM002 utilized a steel tubular space frame with body panels made from aluminum and fiberglass. The body was built in Spain and was shipped to Lamborghini's Sant'Agata Bolognese factory for assembly.

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Despite being a rough-and-ready off-roader with four-wheel drive and three locking differentials, the LM002 was quite luxurious. Its interior featured all the leather you could hope for.

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Lamborghini's wealthy customers presumably demanded such luxuries. Sylvester Stallone famously owned an LM002, giving it its nickname, the "Rambo Lambo."

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Lamborghini history site that Tina Turner, Malcolm Forbes, Eddie Van Halen, Mike Tyson, and Keke Rosberg all owned LM002s at some point.

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Lamborghini says just 300 LM002s were built between 1986 and 1992. An "estate" version with a full trunk was created for the Sultan of Brunei.

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Today, Lamborghini is designing an all-new SUV, the Urus, set to be released later this year. It'll be based on the same platform that underpins the Audi Q7 and Bentley Bentayga, and it'll use a 650-hp twin-turbo V8 developed in-house.

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Surely the Urus will be much quicker than the LM002, but we just hope it captures some of its predecessor's absurdity. The LM002 was a gloriously over-the-top product of its time, and Lamborghini would be wise to draw on its spirit.

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