I’m gonna be honest here: I wasn’t planning on writing about the LM001. There’s not much information about it, not even outlandish stories. Even its whereabouts are unknown, presumed to be destroyed. You’ll only find information about it as part of Cheetah or LM002 posts. And it’s always the same pictures used on the articles that it’s mentioned. Then there’s the fact that I prefer the aforementioned Cheetah and LM002 over the LM001. But I decided to give this rig a shot.
As you may have deduced, the LM001 is the first of the LM-series. ‘LM’ either stood for ‘Lamborghini Militare’ or worse ‘Lamborghini Mimran’, after Patrick and Jean-Claude Mimran, aka the Mimran Bros. Given that the company has given their machines names after breeds of fighting bulls, a sword and even an Italian exclamation remark, I thought this was a let-down. But let’s face it; it doesn’t evoke speed and agility in its design language. ‘Camel’ would’ve worked best. Lamborghini Camel… Great, now I want to listen to English Progressive Rock.
The LM001’s predecessor, the Cheetah, is gone (so to speak. The original could be chilling in a farm in North America for all we know). The Mimran Bros. are now at the helm of Lamborghini. They decide that after a couple of years since the departure of the Cheetah, they’d give it another shot at a military contract. It would still be rear-engined. Heck, it would still be sand-colored.
Due to the little information available, one can only speculate that Lamborghini built the LM001 without outside help, applying all that they’ve learned with the MTI partnership on the Cheetah. This was most likely when the rig was first sent to Italy for final detail work. Some say they went as far as to reverse-engineer the rig, which sounds a little underhanded but this theory cannot be discarded.
Before all this, the only off-roaders the company has dealt with were tractors. The LM001 definitely looks like a military vehicle and not a dune buggy on steroids (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Renowned automotive engineer Giulio Alfieri did his best in taming the rear-engined handling demons.
This time an AMC 5.2L/360ci V8 gave power, still with an anemic horsepower output, though. According to Joe Sackey –writer of The Lamborghini Miura Bible– the engine was chosen because according to Stefano Pasini (another Lamborghini historian), the Mimran Bros. had stake at Renault at the time and since Renault was in cahoots with AMC, they were able to get an AMC engine for their rig. Why didn’t Lamborghini just use one of their 3.0L V8s –which while small, packed around 249HP- is beyond me. Torque? They could’ve tuned the 3.0L for torque, raising it from around 200 ft-lb/torque. Maybe they didn’t want to bother with that. Far from the muscle-car era of 384 ft-lb/torque claim (depending on configuration), the AMC 360 was making 220 ft-lb/ torque by the time the LM001 was built.
One thing to think about: Lamborghini had such little involvement on the Cheetah that they went and copied one of its flaws –the rear engine configuration. It’s either that or they lost the Cheetah’s spec sheets or engineering notes. Because of the rig’s handling characteristics and the engine performance, the LM001 still performed poorly. The lessons learned meant that for next off-roader endeavor, Lamborghini would put the engine in the front to help with handling. And in the horsepower category? Nothing that a Countach V-12 couldn’t fix. One source made it sound like Lamborghini was gonna put the V-12 in the LM001 regardless of which end it was gonna be installed. I sort of believe that Lamborghini would be capable of doing that.
Opening pic (the only one I’ve seen like it): http://jp455.blogspot.com/