LAMBO WOULD-BE HUMMER WOULD-BE HUMMER NOTHING QUITE PREPARES you for the LM002. At 1850mm tall it’s only 48mm shorter than me (I’m 6ft 3 inches in the old money) and it looks as if it’s been created using a chainsaw and an axe. ‘Designed’ or ‘styled’ are two words that don’t immediately spring to mind in connection with Lamborghini’s massive off-roader; it was obviously created by a team that didn’t have a French Curve between them!
Yet you can’t help but raise a faint smile when you first encounter one of these monsters, in the same way that you grimace at the blingy, chromed aggressiveness of the biggest Hummers which, incidentally, are a parallel evolutionary branch to this Italian brute. They’re the Rocky Marciano and Mike Tyson of off-roading, achieving the same results but in different ways.
The genesis of the Lamborghini LM002 dates back to the late-1970s Cheetah prototype, designed when Uncle Sam was on the lookout for a High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle or HMMWV. The winner of this design concept was AM General's legendary Humvee which morphed into the civilian Hummer.
THE GAME-CHANGERS DURING THE EARLY 70S the question being asked by puzzled owners and vendors of traditional sports cars might well have been: "Who's killing the great sporting marques of Europe?" Avoiding for a moment economic events of the time, the answer was "Nissan and the 240Z".
Nissan had built its first sports car in 1959; a bulbous, fibreglass-bodied roadster with a one-litre engine and two-tone paintwork. Compared to BMC's Sprite and the Triumph Spitfire which between them were carving up the world market for minimalist open-top machinery, Nissan's 500 sales represented a drip in the bucket. Four years later came a far more serious contender, this time aimed at the MGB and Triumph TR market.
The Datsun 1500 Fairlady combined attractive styling with adequate performance but its major point of difference was a spacious, well-equipped cockpit aimed at satisfying the American preference for sports cars that were comfortable rather than quick. A 1.6-litre version followed in 1965 but it was 1967 before Nissan addressed market demand.
BUYING RESTORED PROMISES, PROMISES. ‘Fully restored’, ‘concours standard’, ‘unmolested’, ‘original’. Alongside ‘The cheque’s in the mail’ and ‘Of course I’ll respect you in the morning’, they’re the four great lies of vehicle restoration.
Yet often there’s no intention to deceive, and most buyers are just as ignorant as sellers as to what these terms really mean or imply.
The problem is many classic car owners have a very different interpretations of these commonly used terms. For some, ‘restored’ means just like it left the factory; for others, it means something far better.
So if you were buying a ‘restored’ early Corvette, would you expect to see shiny paint underneath or overspray?
And if it was described as ‘original’, would you be disappointed with new paint and new upholstery?
These were some of the questions facing Melbourne’s Louis Rokas when he purchased his first Corvette – a 1954 roadster – in 2003.
A chance meeting at a national Corvette convention changed his life and led him down a rabbit warren of sources and knowledge.
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