Lamborghini Cheetah

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Cheetah Brochure Cover
Manufacturer Mobility Technology International
Parent company
Class Prototype
Body style All Terrain
Platform 4 wheel drive
Engine Chrysler 5.9 liter V8
Length 179 in (455 cm)
Width 60 in (152 cm)
Weight Net (including fuel) 4500 lb (2042 kg)
Wheelbase 118 in (300 cm)
Fuel economy
Fuel capacity
Assembly California

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 XR 311 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 XR 311 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 180bhp 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 (2042kg/4500lbs), resulting in overall poor performance.

The US military tested the Cheetah and ended up destroying the only prototype. The damaged remains were never returned to Lamborghini or MTI. In the end, the contract was awarded to AM General and their similar looking HMMWV.

The 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

Popular culture

  • GI Joe: The Cheetah’s styling was used to create several vehicles for GI Joe. Beginning with the VAMP [Multi-Purpose Attack Vehicle] which was first released in U.S. toy stores in 1982 and included a driver named Clutch. The VAMP was discontinued in 1984. However, the VAMP mold was later used in 1984 to create the VAMP Mark 2 and the Cobra Stinger Jeep, in 1989 to create the Tiger Sting, and in 2001 to create the Desert Striker. The VAMP and its counterparts can also be seen in GI Joe cartoons and video games.
  • MacGyver: 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. You could also buy the Cheetah in a package by itself.


Surviver: The Surviver, 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.

Lamborghini Models
Current models: Reventón | Murciélago LP640 | Murciélago LP640 Roadster | Murcielago Spider | Gallardo | Gallardo Spyder

Historic models: Miura | Countach | Diablo | Espada | Silhouette | Jalpa | 350GT | 400GT | Islero | Jarama | LM002 | Urraco

Concept models: Athon | Bravo | Cala | Cheetah | Concept S | Flying Star II | 3500GTZ | Genesis | LM001 | LM003 | LM004 | LMA002 | Marco Polo | Marzal | Miura Concept | Portofino | Raptor

Owned Group:Volkswagen | Audi | SEAT | Škoda | Bentley | Bugatti | Lamborghini

Lamborghini road car timeline
Type 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Owner Ferruccio Lamborghini Rossetti/Leimer receivership Mimram Chrysler M'tec/V'Power Audi
2+2 400GT Islero Jarama
Coupé Espada
RMR V8/V10 Silhouette Jalpa Gallardo
2+2 Urraco
V12 Miura Countach Diablo Murciélago
Supercar Reventón