It’s the original super SUV, a vast, powerful off-roader originally designed for the military – and now Bell Sport and Classic has brought a very special example back to life, making it arguably the best in the world.
Outrageous even by Lamborghini’s standards, the LM002 was produced between 1986 and 1993, featuring a 450bhp 5.2-litre V12 from the Countach, a 290-litre fuel tank and a muscular riveted aluminium and fibreglass body mounted on a steel spaceframe chassis. Only 301 models were built making it one of the rarest machines ever to come from Sant’Agata too.
This particular LM002 was purchased by its current owner in 2003 and enjoyed on road and off for many years before being put into storage in 2009. A left-hand drive example, it was the 40th built, finished in Blu Acupulco Metallizato and trimmed inside in Light Grey leather.
Driven on the famous Top Gear test track at Dunsfold Aerodrome by ‘The Stig’ for a special Lamborghini edition of the BBC programme back in 2003, it has also been personally approved by legendary Lamborghini test driver Valentino Balboni at a Lamborghini Owners’ Club meeting.
Arriving at Bell Sport and Classic in 2019 as a failed restoration with components in multiple boxes, there was only one man to bring it back to life: the company’s master technician Attilio Romano. A former Ferrari factory technician, Attilio has over 40 years’ experience in service and restoration, having been lead technician at H.R. Owen across Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bugatti, including being the first factory-registered technician to work on the Veyron.
“The engine block was still in place,” Attilio remembers of starting work on the LM002, “but most of the ancillaries had been stripped off. All the separated components were supplied in boxes…it was a bit of a detective job, so the first thing we did was a thorough inventory.”
Once that was complete it was time to tackle the rebuild. With many parts and tools now unavailable from Lamborghini, Bell Sport and Classic either manufactured new components and fixings in-house or outsourced to trusted suppliers.
The LM002’s suspension needed particularly specialist techniques. At the rear it features two springs and dampers per wheel, while the front features a spring-within-a-spring suspension unit, with the two springs wound in opposite directions. With no service tool in existence to disassemble the front unit, Attilio created his own rig to compress and remove the two springs in one operation. Once apart, all components were thoroughly checked and sent to be powder coated.
On examination of the V12, the water pump had been leaking though the bearing seals. To make matters worse, the housing had fractured – and the part was no longer stocked, so trusted supplier Chesman Engineering of Coventry was commissioned to make an entirely new pump to original specification.
Water pump aside, the engine was in good condition, having only recorded 13,690 miles. All ancillary components were checked and if necessary overhauled, while the car’s non-standard rear exhaust box was replaced with an original specification system, Attilio remaking the modified mounting points in the correct position.
As for the transmission, Attilio discovered that the teeth on the dog gear and centre diff had been damaged. List price for a replacement was over £6,000 – and no new units were available. Using his many years of engineering experience, he reshaped the teeth using die grinders and files, and now the transfer box once more works precisely as Sant’Agata’s engineers intended.
The grey leather interior was in good condition for its age and its patina is part of the story of the vehicle, so it was carefully cleaned, and all minor tears and scuffs repaired. The car was sent for a full respray in the original factory Blu Acupulco Metallizato finish and all door seals were replaced, the meticulous recommissioning being completed in less than a year.
Tim Kearns, Managing Director, Bell Sport and Classic said: “This painstaking project has resulted in what must be the best Lamborghini LM002 available on sale right now – perhaps even the best in existence. And it has only been possible because of the skill and passion that lies within Bell Sport and Classic. The attention to detail, engineering excellence, quality and authenticity is beyond reproach and I am immensely proud of the work Attilio and the team have put in. Whoever buys this LM002 will have an absolutely outstanding period-correct example of one of the most outrageous cars in Lamborghini’s history.”