Lamborghini Cheetah

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Lamborghini Cheetah
ManufacturerMobility Technology International
AssemblyCalifornia
ClassPrototype
Platform4 wheel drive
Engine(s)Chrysler 5.9 liter V8
Wheelbase118 in (300 cm)
Length179 in (455 cm)
Width60 in (152 cm)
Curb weightNet (including fuel) 4500 lb (2042 kg)

The Lamborghini Cheetah was Lamborghini's first attempt at an off-road vehicle. It was built on contract from Mobility Technology International, which in turn was contracted by the US military to design and build a new all-terrain vehicle. The basis of the design came from MTI, and was largely a copy of FMC's XR311 prototype developed for the military in 1970. This resulted in legal action from FMC against MTI and Lamborghini in 1977 when the Cheetah was presented at the Geneva Auto Show. The XR311 and Cheetah could be considered progenitors of the current Humvee.

The Cheetah was built in San José, California. After initial construction, the prototype was sent to Sant'Agata so Lamborghini could put on the finishing touches. They decided to go with a large, waterproofed 180 bhp (134 kW) 5.9L Chrysler engine, rear mounted, with a 3 speed automatic transmission. The body was fiberglass, and inside there was enough room for four fully equipped soldiers as well as the driver.

The mounting of the engine in the rear gave the Cheetah very poor handling characteristics, and the engine choice was not powerful enough to be adequate for the heavy vehicle (2042 kg/4500 lb), resulting in overall poor performance.

The US military tested the Cheetah and allegedly destroyed the only prototype. The "damaged" remains were never returned to Lamborghini or MTI.[1]

In the end, the military contract was awarded to AM General and their similar looking HMMWV.

The relative failure of the Cheetah project, and Lamborghini financial problems lead to the cancellation of a contract from BMW to develop their M1.

Lamborghini eventually developed the Lamborghini LM002 — a similar design, but with a 12-cylinder motor from the Lamborghini Countach mounted in the front.

Options (partial list)

  • Top and Door Kit
  • Turbocharger Kit
  • Electric Winch Kit
  • Police Vehicle Kit
  • Armored (Kevlar) Top Kit
  • Armored (small arms) Fuel Tank and Radiator
  • Weapon Mounting Kit

Replicas

Survivor: The Survivor, a fiberglass kit car (dune buggy) distributed by BMB Automotive in 1979, was heavily influenced by the Cheetah's distinctive profile and stance. Very few were made and the original mold was destroyed in a 2003 California forest fire.

Tamiya Corporation: created a 1/12th scale remote controlled model introduced in 1978. Tamiya was known for its realistic vehicles.

Bburago: introduced a 1/24th scale die cast model.

Glasslite: released an action figure, as well as a number of accessories for the MacGyver TV show. The package included several vehicles. However, according to the description, the only ones scaled for the 3 3/4-inch figure are the Lamborghini Cheetah and the Ferrari Testarossa.[2]

Hasbro: based their GI Joe vehicle called the V.A.M.P. (Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle) off the Cheetah vehicle.[3]

References

See also