PH Zeroes: Rambo Lambo
Way before any other sports car manufacturers were building SUVs Lamborghini came up with the LM002. Tony Middlehurst explains why it shouldn't have bothered...
What’s the ugliest car in the world? Today’s motoring dungheap is clearly topped by the SsangYong Rodius, but who would have thought that back in the mid-1980s the undisputed king of ming would wear a Lamborghini badge?
The LM002’s pole position at the coalface of foul was all the more shocking because of the identity of its maker. How could the firm that brought us the sublime Miura, Urraco and Espada have come up with this?
Built in the little-known breezeblock style, the LM002 wasn’t so much penned as crayonned by (presumably) a one-eyed work experience bod with a warped six-inch ruler. The flat aluminium body panels were easy to armour-plate, a useful design attribute as LM002 owners were the sort of people you’d want to take a shot at.Sly Stallone had one. So did Saddam Hussein’s son Uday before his was blown up by the US Army.
The LM002’s engine was nominally a 444bhp 5.2-litre version of the Countach’s V12, with a more powerful 7.2 powerboat version available if you weren’t fully satisfied by the rate at which the six Weber carburettors could drain the 76-gallon tank.
Unique and extraordinarily massive 17-inch Pirelli Scorpion run-flat tyres allowed the 2.7-ton LM002 to batter most small-to-medium deserts into submission. The leathery cabin was luxurious, with an incongruously sporty steering wheel, but the 4x4 manual transmission tunnel was so wide, communication between passengers was best done by post.
This gruesome concept was revealed at the 1981 Geneva Motor Show, but was quickly un-revealed after its first road outing when it displayed all the manners of a Glaswegian pub singer on his third bottle of turps. Some nit had accidentally installed the 5.9-litre V8 AMC motor in the back instead of the front, an easy mistake to make given the LM’s push-me-pull-you styling.
The LM002, launched almost as an apology at the following year’s Geneva show, corrected that minor engineering error by putting the engine up front, an easy mod requiring nothing more than a completely new chassis, new suspension and the addition of power steering, something the stern-heavy 001 never needed, especially when it hit a bump at speed.
Lamborghini went on to build two more LMs. Both were ignominious failures. The LM003 was a shortlived military prototype ‘powered’ by a 5-cylinder 3.6 diesel chucked together by VM Motori, who also used to supply awful engines to Land Rover.
Less than half a dozen LM002s are thought to be left in the UK. Chassis number 300 came up for sale in April this year: with 27,000 miles on the clock it was a fiver under £50k. If you find one for sale, check the roof.
If it’s got an opening flap over the back seats it might be one of the 100 LM002s President Gaddafi ordered for the Libyan army, complete with machine-gun mounting points. And if you buy any LM002, don’t expect to get much joy out of Kwik-Fit when you need a new tyre.