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by Jennifer Harrington
Lamborghini’s attempt at an all-road vehicle in the 1980s started off with an AMC engine and ended up with the same powerplant as the Countach. The LM (“Lamborghini Militari”) weighed more than 6,000 lbs., had a 40-foot turning radius, and a top speed of 115-130 mph. It was built in hopes of being used in the U.S. military and had a flat-panel body for easy armoring. It was the first four-wheel-drive vehicle by Lamborghini.
The original LM was the LM001; it never made it to production. The prototype was first showcased at the 1981 Geneva Auto Show and was a redesigned version of the 1977 Lamborghini Cheetah project, a controversial off-road vehicle. Under its hood was a 360-cubic-inch AMC V8 that put out 180 horsepower and was mated to a Chrysler 727 automatic transmission. However, the engine was mounted in the rear, causing very poor handling characteristics. The project ceased.
At the 1982 Geneva Auto Show, the LMA002 was presented with its front-mounted, dual-overhead cam engine, similar to that of the Countach’s V12, and a five-speed transmission with a transfer case. Since the engine was moved to the front, the entire chassis needed to be redesigned; engineers settled on a multi-tubular steel space frame.
With the newly made room in the rear, the LMA002 could hold 10 passengers and was about 1,100 lbs. heavier than the LM001 it replaced. Four-wheel drive was also not permanent as the driver was able to power just the rear wheels. The LMA002 prototype was soon given a serial number and became the first production LM002.
The production model of the LM002 was introduced at the 1986 Brussels Auto Show. It was powered by a 5.2-liter version of the Countach Quattrovalvole’s V12 engine with six dual-barrel Weber carburetors and four valves per cylinder. It put out 450 bhp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The monster could go from zero to 60 in 7.7 seconds.
The LM002 used specially developed 17-inch Pirelli Scorpion run-flat tires that came in mixed-use and sand-only-use versions. For stopping power, it had dual-caliper disc brakes in the front and drums in the rear. The LM002 had a 77-gallon gas tank (and got a mere six mpg) and aluminum and fiberglass body panels.
The first LM002 was sold to Morocco’s king, and many more of them were sold in the Middle East. When the vehicle made its way to the U.S. in 1987, it had a price tag of more than $120,000.
It had narrow, leather bucket seats, and the rest of the interior was trimmed in wood and leather. A luxury package for was available, which included power windows, air conditioning, and a stereo on the roof console. Salvatore Diomante, the owner of a Turin-based auto shop, raised the LM002’s roof and enclosed the back and created the “Estate” version.
In 1987, the LM002 ran in the Pharoahs Rally and also competed in the 1988 Paris-Dakar Rally.
301 LM002s were produced between 1986 and 1992 (the initial estimate was 500 units). A military version of the LM002 was never produced.
The LM001 suspension had front and rear oscillating arms, torsion bars, and telescopic shocks; the LMA002 had independent, front and rear oscillating arms, torsion bars, and telescopic shocks; and the LM002 added coil springs. All three had steel wheels.
The LM003 lived a fairly short life. The project was built to comply with the U.S. military’s requirements and used a 219-cubic-inch (3,590-cc) turbocharged diesel engine from VM of Cento, Italy, and a five-speed gearbox. However, the engine only put out 150 bhp at 4,200 rpm, making the vehicle too underpowered for the vehicle’s weight. The LM003 project was abandoned.
The LM004 was also a failed project. It had a 7.0-liter marine V12 engine that put out 420 horsepower.
Chrysler 1904-2018 •
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