The Lamborghini Story

told through the cars they built

Rambo Lambo (LM002)


What's this? A truck made by Lamborghini? The company that makes super sports cars with incredible performance? Yes this was a serious attempt by the company to break into the military vehicle market.

Lamborghini's first attempt at a vehicle with off-road performance was called the Cheetah and it was introduced in 1977. It was not a success.

This had a 5.9 litre Chrysler engine mounted at the rear driving through a three speed automatic transmission. Power output was 180 brake horsepower and the bodywork was made of fibreglass. Whether or not anyone asked any soldiers if they would like to go into combat within a fibreglass bodied vehicle has not been disclosed. Putting such a big heavy engine in the rear gave it poor handling and large though it was the engine simply wasn't powerful enough to give a decent performance. The United States military glanced at it and said 'thanks, but no thanks'.

This was not terribly good news for Lamborghini as their financial situation was pretty woeful but they carried on with the project, hoping to make a vehicle which would sell to the general public.

New money came in from investors and a prototype off-road vehicle labelled the LM001 was put together with a 5.9 litre V8 engine supplied by AMC but again the handling was pretty awful as a result of the engine being in the rear.

Finally Lamborghini saw the light and put a Countach V12 in the front, as well as greatly modifying the chassis. At last the vehicle handled like an off-roader, rather than a motorised banana. Launched at the Brussels Auto Show in 1986, and aimed at both the military and civilian markets, this car quickly gained the nickname 'Rambo-Lambo'.

The civilian version had a luxurious specification which included tinted, powered windows; air con; leather seating and a top of the range stereo system. Military options included runflat tyres, specially designed for this vehicle by Pirelli, that could withstand high temperatures and driving over sand at high speed.

There have been reports that a total of just 328 Rambo Lambos were produced, 100 of which were bought by Libyan boss Colonel Gaddafi for his military personnel. Another one had been owned by Uday Hussain, the eldest son of Iraqui president Sadam Hussain. American forces blew it up to test the effects of a car bomb. Not something that is likely to be bragged about in Lamborghini's future advertising material.