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Lamborghini LM002 “Rambo Lambo” to cross the block at Fort Lauderdale

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Photos by Erik Fuller courtesy of Auctions America.

Looking for the perfect vehicle to turn heads at your community’s Earth Day Festival next month? We found it: a bright red, 6,800-pound, V-12-powered, four-wheel-drive that will get you to the tree plantings and litter cleanup sites on less than a gallon of gas — provided, of course, that your destination isn’t more than eight miles away. (Yes, it gets eight MPG.)

Off-road enthusiasts of the 1980s and 1990s know it as the Lamborghini LM002 or the “Rambo Lambo,” as it was nicknamed. Compared to today’s production super off-roaders like the 450-hp, twin-turbo, 2017 F-150 Raptor, the LM002 doesn’t seem quite as wild as it did 25 years ago — or big for that matter.

But when the truck’s prototype took its first bow at the 1982 Geneva Auto Show, the “Rambo Lambo,” seemed just as outrageous as its more famous stablemate the Countach.

The production LM002 can trace its lineage back to 1976 when an American defense contractor Mobility Technology International partnered with Lamborghini to build military vehicles using midmounted American V-8s. The plan unraveled in court when a rival company sued over the design of the MTI/Lamborghini Cheetah prototype and the project was scrapped.

After Jean Claude and Patrick Mimran purchased Lamborghini in 1980 (for just $3 million) the LM001 military vehicle prototype surfaced, looking vaguely like the Cheetah but powered by an AMC V-8. When the first LM002 was built in 1982, it was powered by a front-mounted Lamborghini V-12.

The body was a boxy-looking affair made of fiberglass and aluminum panels hung on a tubular steel space frame. There would be no clubby solid axles under this desert stormer; instead, it rode on independent front and rear suspension with double wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shocks and variable torque distribution to each wheel. The steering used a heavy-duty rack-and-pinion setup for a nimble feel and, with a 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution, this truck would have none of the evil handling characteristics that Jeep CJ enthusiasts claim to be fond of. Pirelli was commissioned to make special tires to fit the LM002’s 17×11-inch steel wheels. The resulting 345/R60/17 Kevlar-reinforced meats were appropriately named “Scorpion.”

Under its hood, the LM002 packed the howling 450-hp, 5.2-liter (5,167-cc), four-valve “Quattrovalvole” DOHC V-12 used in the Countach with a reduced compression ratio to allow it to run comfortably on pump fuel. Early trucks breathed through Weber carburetors, while later versions used a more off-road friendly fuel-injection system.

The transmission in our feature truck is a ZF five-speed manual coupled to a ZF two-speed transfer case, and the final drive ratio is a gutsy 4.11:1. Still, it’s said that the LM002 can hit 130 MPH at full song. With a 73-gallon fuel tank, the Lambo has a comfortable cruising range, even at the eight MPG that Car and Driver’s Brock Yates recorded in the magazine’s October 1987 issue.

The LM002 didn’t find a lot of takers among military customers around the world, but just over 300 of these 6,680-pound bulls were built and sold. They were lavishly equipped with leather upholstered bucket seats, Nardi steering wheels, wood dash trim, carpeted floors, air conditioning and a top-of-the-line sound system.

When introduced in the U.S. in 1987, the LM002 stickered for about $120,000, which priced it about in line with the Countach. Though they’re rare, many of the 300-plus LM002s built are still out there (except for Uday Hussein’s, which was reportedly blown up by the U.S. military).

This one is scheduled to cross the block Saturday, April 1, at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale sale, March 31-April 2. It has just over 10,000 miles (17,250 kilometers) showing on the odometer and the auction house has set the presale estimate at $250,000-$300,000.

We last spotted this truck at Mecum’s Monterey sale in August 2015 where it sold for $240,000 and was sporting a front-mounted Warn winch. Incidentally, if you’d like to hear one of these V-12s sing, as well as some witty quips about the LM002’s history, design and performance, you can watch Jay Leno’s November 2015 review of a similar Rambo Lambo on his YouTube channel.