Car of the Week: This Rare and Outrageous 1991 ‘Rambo Lambo’ Is Heading to Auction

RM Sotheby’s will present its newest boutique car auction in downtown Miami on December 10, featuring 60 lots of Italian, German and British cars from the 1970s through 1990s. One that looms large—literally—is a 1991 example of Lamborghini’s LM002, a model whose popularity has paralleled the upward trajectory of the “youngtimer” collector market, while also being fueled by the wholesale embrace of modern SUVs by the general public.

Lamborghini’s LM002 was as prescient a concept as it was extreme, built in the formative years of the SUV market and forecasting long in advance the many super-high-performance versions in the category today, among the most capable of which is Lamborghini’s own Urus Performante.

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A red 1991 Lamborghini LM002.
The 1991 Lamborghini LM002 crossing the block at the RM Sotheby’s auction in Miami on December 10.

While it might be easy to dismiss Lamborghini’s LM002 as an answer to a question that nobody asked, the reality is that the giant Italian off-roader evolved within a line of vehicles originally intended for military application. The LM series (for Lamborghini Militaria) was developed to enter the so-called “Jeep” market for the armed forces. The LM002 was preceded by two prototypes, the first of which was made in 1977 and codenamed Cheetah. It used a 5.9-liter Chrysler V-8 engine mounted in the rear, but proved to be ill-handling and underpowered, thus Lamborghini lost the contract to AM General’s Humvee.

The 5.2-liter V-12 engine inside a 1991 Lamborghini LM002.
The all-wheel-drive LM002 is powered by a 5.2-liter V-12 engine.

The single LM001 prototype that followed in 1981 used a rear-mounted, 5.9-liter AMC V-8. Unfortunately, it demonstrated similarly poor handling as a result of the engine’s placement. The LMA002, a prototype built in 1982, got things right, mounting Lamborghini’s own Countach V-12 mill in the front. Anticipation of a contract with the Saudi military for between 500 and 1,000 units looked promising for the struggling manufacturer, but the contract failed to materialize. As a result, only the single LMA002 was made, the prototype eventually becoming the first LM002, unveiled at the Brussels Auto Show in 1986. It soon became known as the “Rambo Lambo” as actor Sylvester Stallone, who was riding the popularity of the Rambo action-film franchise at the time, was reported to have purchased one when they first became available.

The interior of a 1991 Lamborghini LM002.
The vehicle on offer, with its luxurious leather interior, has 5,549 miles on its odometer.

Constructed on a tubular-steel frame with riveted aluminum body panels, the all-wheel-drive LM002 is powered by a 5.2-liter V-12 engine mated to a five-speed manual transmission. Just short of 16 feet long, 6.5 feet wide and more than 6 feet tall, the big brute weighs almost three tons. Of course, its Countach engine is what made the model unlike any truck, along with its luxurious leather interior with heating and air conditioning, a stereo integrated into the roof console and a host of other amenities.

The back of a red 1991 Lamborghini LM002.
Lamborghini’s LM002 was as prescient a concept as it was extreme.

Pirelli was commissioned by Lamborghini to develop run-flat tires for serious off-road use, and the model was equipped with a 45-gallon fuel tank to satiate its thirsty power plant. In the scheme of things, the LM002 could be counted a success, with 328 examples produced between 1986 and 1993. We’re eager to see what it takes to corner this original red bull when it snorts up to the auction block in December, especially as it’s being offered without reserve.

Click here to see more photos of this 1991 Lamborghini LM002.

A red 1991 Lamborghini LM002.
The 1991 Lamborghini LM002 being auctioned by RM Sotheby’s in Miami.

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