Lamborghini Off Road Dreams Part 2: Taking the Bull By the Horns
Fotos Below: Pietro Frigerio as I met him surveying lesser mortals at the Huntington Beach cars and Copters Show and on the day of the test drive sitting in his fantastic LM002.
At the beginning of June, I finally got the opportunity to drive Pietro Frigerio’s mighty LM002 that I had spotted at Cars and Copters in Huntington Beach a few weeks ago. Even more than thirty years after it first made its public appearance at the 1982 Monaco Grand Prix, the Lamborghini Militare 002 still makes everything else on the road pale in comparison. Certainly, the new Urus is far superior in terms of comfort, convenience, power and performance. But the LM002 has an almost infinite abundance of something few cars today have even a whiff of – gravitas. Already at Huntington Beach, I was surprised that everything including the Rezvani Tank was outshone by the sheer presence of the beast from Sant Agata – even the Urus seemed to be cowering next to it.
(Photos Below: Some interior shots of the LM002 and a close up of the Pirelli Scorpion spare tire. (The Pirelli Scorpion was designed for this car but this tire is one of the original ones with the so called "sand lip" which are no longer available so Pietro keeps his on the back for Historical Decoration. Then some shots of the Lamborghini Certification Documents in their black presentation box that Pietro received after the car was certified by Lamborghini Polo Storico. Finally the LM002 supervising the rambunctious Grandkids at Lamborghini of Newport Beach. )
Pietro and I started the test drive with him in the driver’s seat so I got a feel for the car as a passenger and then as a driver. From the first bark from the twin exhaust pipes that settle into a rasping rattle at idle, every aspect of the car exudes drama. The doors close with a decisive almost vault - like clack that only a Mercedes - Benz GWagen or pre-1999 Porsche 911 can match. The clutch feels like it came out of a tractor while first gear is in a dog-leg lower left position, usually seen on racecars. Balancing the clutch and stiff gas pedal at launch is a delicate art and as the revs rise and the carbs clear their throats the sound grows to a raucous, exuberantly joyous symphony like only an Italian V 12 can produce. But the sound has an aggressive edge to it, much more aggressive than something out of Maranello.
The next shift is an adventure as I navigate the long gear lever towards what I think is second but instead I end up in fourth. The revs drop but without a complaint the beast emits a low bellow and pulls from under 2000 revs to a raucous scream at 4000. By now were are doing a rather tame forty miles an hour but with the cacophony of mechanical activity in the cabin and the jitters coming through the suspension to my seat bottom, it feels like the speed of light. Soon the next traffic light is approaching fast and I touch the brakes. It’s almost as if the car is chuckling at me; “You’re gonna have to push harder than that, buddy.” So I apply more pressure and the cars slows to a stop at the light while shaking and jiggling over the tiniest ruts in the road. Disaster has been averted and Pietro breathes a subtle sigh of relief.
Around the next corner comes a construction zone but judging the edges of the immense hood covered in bulging protrusions for the carbs and those two yellow air filters, is more a feat of intuition and daring than real judgment. Miraculously no contact is made with any of the striped reflector contraptions, marking the imaginary edge of the road and we are once again “praying” to a stop at the next light. One nevertheless has to give the engineers at Brembo their due. This was the 80’s and the LM weighs more than two Countach’s. We’re lucky to come to a stop at all.
As I finally ease back in to the gate of Pietro’s dealership, the reality of experiencing one of my all time automotive heroes for the first time sets in. Some say one is always disappointed but in this case the opposite is true. Even after dreaming about this car since I first saw a picture of it in Automobile Revue when I was 10, driving it far outshines my wildest phantasies. It has more soul than some humans and engages you in mind body and spirit. That sounds like a vast exaggeration but it’s true.
Were the LM002 in need of a catch phrase, I’d have to quote the late great race driver James Hunt. When interviewed by Sir Stirling Moss on a stellar performance with his recently modified McLaren F1 car, Hunt put his performance down to; ‘Big Balls.”
If the LM epitomizes anything at all it’s Big Balls.
Watch video footage of my test drive below.