REVIEW: T.R.L. Models Lamborghini LM002 •

REVIEW: T.R.L. Models Lamborghini LM002

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I have been a fan of Lamborghini from back in the Eighties. That is a long time ago, and back in those days, the Countach was still the flagship, together with the Baby Bull that was called the Jalpa and something really different … the massive LM002.

The Countach and the Jalpa might have had some competition back in the 1980’s, but the mammoth LM002 had nothing even come close. We are talking about a massive, V12-powered, 455hp, four wheel drive off-road vehicle that was initially developed with military use in mind. In fact, a lot of controversy has been going around about the name LM002. Some say it stood for Lamborghini Militare, while other insist it is an abbreviation for Lamborghini Mimran, named after the owner of Automobili Lamborghini SpA back then, Patrick Mimran.

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How about some impressive figures on the Lamborghini LM002: only 301 were built between 1986 and 1992, being 4900mm long, 2000mm wide and a whopping 1850mm high, the LM002 puts 2700kg on the scales, and still reaches a top speed of 210 km/h (130 Mph).

Under the hood, the first LM002 series received the massive 5.2 Liter V12 engine derived from the Countach. Later on, the fuel-injected model, that would also be used in the Diablo, found a place under the hood, which showed various ‘bulbs’ to house air filters. Remember, this car was meant to be driven in some seriously bad environments, like dry desert sand, but also be able to use less than perfect fuel. You could hardly call the LM002 economical: fuel consumption was a whopping 30 Liter per 100 Km.

In the end, most of these Lamborghini LM002s went to Middle Eastern owners, but some made their way into the United States and various countries in Europe. These days they have become a rare sight, the last series of LM002 production were special edition ‘LM American’ models. Using a fuel-injected engine, these final LM002s received chromed bumpers, side skirts, and beautiful OZ Racing alloy wheels. In 1992, the last year the LM002 was produced, only 12 units left the doors in Sant’Agata.

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So it is safe to say that the Lamborghini LM002 isn’t the best known model made in Sant’Agata. Cars like the Miura, Countach, Diablo, Murciélago and Aventador make most people stand in awe. The LM002 will have them covering their ears instead. Thinking of Lamborghini as an exotic car builder just doesn’t line up with a square style off-road vehicle. Still, the LM002 is a real Lamborghini – loud, fast, expensive. And with four leather seats inside, it offers some serious luxury too. Naturally, at a price.

Until now, there were none of the well-known, high end scale model car builders offering a large 1/18 scale model of this mammoth. However, there is one resin builder putting it on the market these days. I admit it is a sealed resin model, and I’m not a real fan of those, but this is the only large scale Lamborghini LM002 on the market, so after some hesitation, I went ahead and reluctantly ordered one from a Chinese seller on eBay, fearing the usual long wait and high import taxes.

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The Lamborghini LM002 is very big; 185cm tall, in fact. At first, two different shades were available, white and red. I went for the red, because it was the only one to feature the optional OZ Wheels on it, with the white 1/18 LM002 sporting the standard steel wheels instead. You have to admit, a red body paired with a tan interior does look really nice too. Not willing to pay full price, I made the seller an offer, and rather unexpectedly he accepted. I paid him and started waiting.

I usually don’t buy models from outside of Europe anymore due to the high cost for customs and taxes, but with the LM002 I had no choice, as it isn’t available in Europe. I asked the seller for a tracking number – twice – never received an answer to my e-mails, but still he updated the listing with a number after about a week that didn’t work, so I started worrying a little, to be honest.

After waiting for about three weeks, I was just about ready to put in a claim when a DHL van came up my driveway with a rather heavy box holding this bright red Lamborghini LM002 1/18 scale model. I was impressed with the weight of this model. In fact, it sure is a lot heavier than the resin MR models I own. I would call that a good thing.

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I was trembling a little opening the box. Having been shipped all the way from China, anything could have happened during transport. Wheels could have broken off, windows  damaged. All kinds of nightmarish scenarios kept going through my mind. Keep in mind, this isn’t a cheap model and sending it back for a replacement would have been expensive, but it turned out alright.

The seller really packed it very well for me. In fact, he made sure the model couldn’t move inside the box by using additional straps, which pushed down the aerial on the roof.  No worries, since it is a metal piece and I could straighten it very carefully. One other issue on my specific model was the rear side window on the left side. It caved in, so I had to glue it back in place, which isn’t as easy as it sounds, since the windows are made of very, very thin plastic.

This Lamborghini LM002 comes screwed onto a plinth with four screws, while large black spacers keep the model from moving around inside the classy black box complete with slip case – very high end, in fact. Do note that the exterior rear view mirrors come separate inside a small plastic bag. They fit snugly inside openings on the doors, but I feel you should really glue them in place, because they tend to drop off anyway.

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Even with the doors open, the Countach is dwarfed by the LM002, so how does this resin model look in the end? Is it worth the $200 asking price, or should you wait for some other manufacturer to offer it?

Yes and no! I know that is a very confusing answer, but I will explain it for you. This 1/18 Lamborghini LM002 is the only one available on the market today, and priced at $200, it is expensive, but not like an MR. On the other hand, a nice AUTOart will be at least as pricey, if they ever make it, so this one is worth the price due to being the only one you can buy. Though it does have some flaws, if you ask me.

The first issue for many collectors is the fact this LM002 is a sealed resin model. Nothing opens, and while this is normal for a resin model, and I admit I usually display my models with everything closed anyway, it still would have been nice to admire the very nicely detailed interior, or take a peek at the impressive V12 engine under the hood. Now I knew this was a resin, so I’m not putting this down as a negative, but I know many don’t think so lightly about this.

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The paint on this model is very, very good. The red shade looks correct and offers a very nice, deep shine. However, it is applied in a very thick layer, and this is visible on the door hinges, in fact, and that’s why I’m not going to call the paint finish perfect. Also, some corners show some wear, more specifically the black section at the rear of the roof, where there is some red coming through again.

As this model has orange turn indicator lights up front and red ones at the rear, we can asume this is a representation of a US-spec model. Also, the more rounded ‘bulges’ on the engine cover reveal this model to be a fuel-injected model, a later series edition. The black ‘bumperettes’ at the front and rear are usually finished in a dark grey in real life, but they can be black too, so this isn’t a mistake.

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The disc over the spare wheel is in fact there on the real LM002 too. I also heard people talk about the Raging Bull on the disc over the spare wheel at the back, which again is a Lamborghini mounted item. It might not look very nice, but it is correct. There are LM002s out there with a cover over the entire spare wheel, some with the disc seen on this model, and some with no cover at all. Also, keep in mind there is a cover that fits over the entire rear section of the Lamborghini LM002.

Fortunately, this model shows the rear seating area found on the Lamborghini LM002 very nicely. There is metal plating replicated on the floor, while the small cushions have the same upholstery as the interior just like on the real deal – very impressive.

Two Lamborghini models from the same era, the Countach and the LM002, which takes us into the very nice tan interior found inside this model. I couldn’t open any doors to photograph it, but did manage to take some shots through the windows, and I have to say the interior looks really, really nice. It all seems to be present and nicely detailed, even the dials on the dashboard look right. The gearshift is large and the second lever to ‘disengage’ the front wheels is present too, as are the push buttons and other stuff. Even the stereo, which in the LM002 is mounted inside a roof pod, is scaled down to 1/18!

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The rear wing on the Countach doesn’t even reach the door handle on the LM002, so the attention to detail is very good on this model. One small item worth mentioning can be found on the wheels. Being the optional OZ Racing Wheels units, they should have a Lamborghini script on the hub. That hasn’t been scaled down on this model, but other than that I couldn’t find many thing to worry about.

I already mentioned that this is a very heavy model, but I guess that is simply because it is large. In real life, the Lamborghini LM002 is a very big machine, which naturally translates into a large 1/18 model too. During the photo-shoot I put a 1/18 Lamborghini Countach LP500S by Kyosho next to it, and it looked like a smaller scale model, the rear spoiler on the Countach doesn’t even reach the upper door line of the LM002.

Doors open on the Countach to reach the height of the massive LM002. With the doors open, the Countach just about reaches the same height as the massive Lamborghini LM002. I specifically used a Countach model for comparison as these are from the same era. Normally I  use the Quattrovalvole edition, but I took this Kyosho-made LP5000S because it is the same shade as the LM002, making the side by side shots more interesting.

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Back in the Eighties, the Lamborghini LM002 received the nickname ‘Rambo Lambo’, and when putting her next to the very low Lamborghini Countach, it becomes obvious why you would call her the Rambo among off-road vehicles.

The Lamborghini LM002 next to the more modern Hummer H2 still looks larger than life. Now I don’t have a normal 1/18 scale model of the Hummer, but I did get one of those DUB tuning editions in black, and side by side you get a very nice impression of just how big the V12 Lamborghini offroader is.

Bottom line: this is the only 1/18 scale model of the gargantuan Lamborghini LM002 from the Eighties, which is reason enough to get this model, even at a $200 asking price. Which shade you should get totally depends on your preferences. I’ve heard many mention the OZ Wheels on this red model aren’t to their liking. For me they were the principal reason behind buying the red instead of the white one.

Keep in mind we are talking about a limited edition model, only 99 units of each shade will be made. In fact, there is a plaque on the plinth stating this, but there is no serial number, it just says ‘limited edition /99’. However, white and red aren’t the only shades available. Shortly after I ordered this model, I saw that it also comes in matte black, green and in a full camouflage ‘dress’ now. Still, only the red one received the OZ Wheels, so I’m glad I went for this shade.

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