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Lamborghini’s first venture in the SUV market

By FaezClutchless on 03 May 2012

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Many would have already read reports of Lamborghini’s return to the SUV market segment with its Urus Concept. Some would say that it is a step back into an all too familiar territory for the Italian luxury car maker. The company released an SUV almost three decades ago which is the LM002, dubbed the “Rambo Lambo.”

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However did you know that the LM002 is not the first time Lamborghini SUV? The LM002 was in fact derived from an earlier prototype model called the Lamborghini Cheetah which was developed during the mid 1970s. Want to know more?

The Lamborghini Cheetah was the company’s first attempt at an off-road vehicle. It was built on contract with Mobility Technology International (MTI). MTI was then contracted by the United States military to design and produce a new all terrain vehicle. The Cheetah was built in San Jose, California and after the initial construction, the vehicle was sent to Sant’Agata in Bologna for Lamborghini to apply the finishing touches.

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A 5.9-litre waterproof Chrysler engine that churns out 180hp was used for the Cheetah (hardly cheetah-like). The engine was rear mounted and it was mated to a three-speed automatic transmission. The body was made out of fibreglass and there was enough room for four fully equipped soldiers including the driver.

The base design of the Cheetah was largely copied from another company’s prototype developed for the US military in 1970; which was FMC Corporation’s XR311. When Lamborghini and MTI showcased the Cheetah at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show, FMC took legal action against the two companies.

Promotional video of the Lamborghini Cheetah

The mounting of the engine in the rear gave the Cheetah very poor handling characteristics and the engine used was not powerful enough for the car which had a kerb weight of 2042 kilograms. The United States military did test the Cheetah and allegedly destroyed the only prototype. The remains of the Cheetah were never returned to Lamborghini and MTI. Eventually, the contract was given to AM General with its similar looking Humvee.

The failure of the Cheetah, plus with Lamborghini’s financial problems at that time resulted in the cancellation of the agreement between BMW and Lamborghini to develop the M1 sports car. Later on, with a similar design, Lamborghini developed the LM002 but with a more powerful engine (the Countach’s 5.2-litre V12) at the front.

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Written by FaezClutchless
Some say that his blood is actually RON98 petrol and some say that his right foot weighs over 20kg. But all that we know about Faez is that he loves to drive and is a JDM enthusiast.

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Seansene May 03 2012 11:16 AM
Um, a little credit to Wikipedia would be nice.
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