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This December, Lamborghini will launch an all-new SUV called the Urus and while many may think it is the company’s first-ever SUV, it is not. 25 years ago, Lamborghini produced the LM002 and though it was not referred to as a ‘SUV’ then, it was nevertheless such a vehicle by today’s definition.

The LM002 was an extraordinary automobile and Lamborghini even believes it can be regarded as ‘the father of luxury SUVs’. An original product, the LM002 started as a project to develop a high-performance off-road vehicle for military use at the end of the 1970s. It was then called the ’Cheetah’.

The LM002 project started with the Cheetah in the 1970s, intended for military use. The prototype Cheetah is shown in the foreground with the LM002 behind it.
The LM002 project started with the Cheetah in the 1970s, intended for military use. The prototype Cheetah is shown in the foreground with the LM002 behind it.

However, the project did not go far and it was only in 1981 that a Lamborghini engineer by the name of Giulio Alfieri resurrected the project. It resulted in the LM001, an innovative concept with a rear-mounted engine, followed by the LMA prototype with a front-mounted powertrain. The final production model of the LM002 was presented at the Brussels Auto Show in 1986. This model consolidated the final design with a massive 5167 cc V12 450 bhp engine from the Countach Quattrovalvole.

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The V12 engine was similar to the one used in the Countach Quattrovalvole, and the LM002 had on-road capabilities that were comparable to the supercar too
The V12 engine was similar to the one used in the Countach Quattrovalvole, and the LM002 had on-road capabilities that were comparable to the supercar too

Lamborghini LM002

With its aluminium and fiberglass body and with 4-wheel drive transmission and 3 self-locking differentials, the SUV could take on gradients of 120%. As it could reach speeds of more than 200 km/h, the LM002 was equipped with specially-developed tyres by Pirelli which had ‘floating’ capabilities across soft surfaces such as sand, and were highly durable in hot conditions.

The production of the bodies started in a company near Bilbao, Spain. Then the semi-assembled parts were shipped to the Lamborghini factory for completion with addition of the powertrain, and other mechanical parts. As with Lamborghinis today, customers could personalise the interior as they wished.

Lamborghini LM002

Lamborghini LM002

Lamborghini LM002

The LM002 attracted significant attention when launched because it was a vehicle unlike any other. Its performance matched that of its super sportscar stablemates with significant off-road capabilities and an imposing design and presence. A total of 300 units were produced from 1986 to 1992, one of which sits in the Lamborghini museum today.

Lamborghini's second SUV will be the Urus, to make its global debut on December 4 this year
Lamborghini’s second SUV will be the Urus, to make its global debut on December 4 this year

Lamborghini says that, like the LM002, the Urus will create a new super SUV class of its own, with exceptional power and torque, distinctive design and a very significant presence. It will possess exceptional road-going dynamics, performance and luxury and like the LM002, exceptional capabilities on off-road terrain (including sand) as well. Definitely one which will be a must-have for customers in the Middle East.

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