What you are looking at may be one of the rarest photos of a Lamborghini known to man. Once thought to be destroyed and gone forever, this is a real-deal Lamborghini Cheetah.
Before there was the Lamborghini Urus, there was the Lamborghini LM002, LM001 and Cheetah Prototype. Once believed to be a myth, proof of the first Cheetah prototype vanished with an employee sale of the owning company back in 1989…until today.
According to one of our favorite Lamborghini owners on Instagram, Kris Singh (who happens to own a Lamborghini Veneno) Cats Exotics in Lynwood, Washington actually acquired the only prototype in existence and has restored it to like-new condition. And a quick check on Cats Exotics Facebook confirms this photo to be true. Check out this photo below and bask in its awesomeness.
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According to Singh,
"This is literally Lamborghini folklore come to life courtesy of Roy Cats @catsexotics ! The Lamborghini Cheetah is a mythical thing. There have been rumors that it was shown at a car show but not one photo exists to prove it was there. There are many rumors that a few were made for testing then destroyed. Some say there were over 100 made for military use and they remain in like-new condition on a military base somewhere in Tahiti. The stories are very wild and all over the place with the only common thread being that they lack any hard proof that the Cheetah ever even existed… Till now! … This photo is way to epic to even explain. I did my best."
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The Cheetah prototype was a legend in its own right as it was the first foray for Lamborghini to get a military contract from the United States for an off-road vehicle. The Cheetah wasn’t designed in Italy. Instead the Cheetah was contracted out to U.S. based defense contractor Mobility Technology International in San Jose, California in 1977. After the one and only prototype was made, it was sent to the 1977 Geneva Motor Show after being shipped to Italy. Shortly after, the Cheetah prototype returned to the United States to shoot a commercial in Nevada.
MTI, upon hearing of Lamborghini’s financial troubles, sold that Cheetah prototype to Teledyne Continental Motors originally headquartered in Muskegon, Michigan . Although four other prototypes were spawned from that sale, none were ever completed and three were destroyed. One of those four prototypes was sold off to an employee back in 1989 and a quick search on the internet reveals one photo of a dark-colored Teledyne made prototype from 2011.
But what of the original prototype? There were rumors that it was destroyed and lost forever but there were also rumors that it still exists and is somewhere in the United States. Only until today do we have photographic proof that it exists and is in good hands in Washington, California.
There’s a whole thread on Ferrari Chat dedicated to the finding and restoration of this one of a kind vehicle. According to whom we assume is the owner of Cats Exotics
"…Then after the 1977 Geneva Auto show the company (MTI) was sold to a company in Michigan, Teledyne made 4 more prototypes, all different, but off of the same design…a Ambulance, troop carrier, rocket launcher etc. trying to win over the US Army contract..which as we now know was given to another provider…then the company went belly up and it was thought ALL 5 were destroyed….but we located at LEAST this remaining one over 5 years ago in Michigan on a farm in the North. The story goes on from there….we did so much research, so much documentation etc etc…soon to be released Video interviews and Documentation as to this being the ONE and ONLY know to have not been destroyed…….it’s been a cool journey."
If you examine the photo, it’s more epic than meets the eye. Next to it is an LM002, which there were only 301 units made. And next to the LM002 is a Countach, which in its own right is pretty uncommon.
So when the Lamborghini Urus is finally unveiled, you’ll be glad to know that there indeed is a genesis in the Cheetah.