The idea of a Lamborghini SUV remains challenging to some, so it must have been truly bizarre when the LM002 went into production in 1986. But the massive SUV had been in the works for many years, and the convoluted tale of how it came to be is worth sharing.

In a new video for Hagerty, Jason Cammisa tells the story of how “the most fraudulent, underhanded, sneaky, illicit, illegal, cock-and-bull plan to make a buck to ever wear a Lamborghini badge” came to be.

Lamborghini became interested in the project in the early ’70s, an era that was very difficult for Italian supercar manufacturers. In 1974, Ferruccio Lamborghini sold his stake in his automobile company, and a year later it was struggling to buy the supplies required to build the Countach.

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As a result, the company was on the lookout for any projects that could make it a quick buck. The first was the BMW M1, and the second was a military vehicle that had been thought up by a couple of American designers.

Read: White On Red Lamborghini LM002 Is Rad In All The Right Ways

The vehicle that would eventually emerge from the partnership with the American designers, named the Lamborghini Cheetah (above), was shown at the 1977 Geneva Motor Show. Despite the concept car’s popularity, or maybe because of it, an American company called FMC objected to it.

That’s because the SUV’s designers had previously worked for it, and it believed the Cheetah was little more than a rebadged version of the XR311, the vehicle it had designed in an effort to win a U.S. military contract to replace the M151 Jeep.

FMC sued Lamborghini, and the Cheetah was dead. Sort of. Although it sent the prototype back to America, Lamborghini redirected the funds it had received to set up production of the BMW M1 to reverse engineering the SUV in order to make a version of its own. That proved to be a financially disastrous decision that sent Lamborghini into receivership, and into the control of the Italian courts.

However, even that wasn’t enough to kill the project completely. While it was fighting to stay alive under its new owners, Lamborghini received inquiries from clients in the Middle East who had seen the Cheetah, and wanted a version of it for their military.

Development started anew and, after Valentino Balboni flipped one of the test vehicles end over end at low speeds, it was decided that the engine should go up front, not in the middle. The company stuffed its new V12 under the hood, and after the Middle Eastern military deals fell through, lined the interior with leather and sold them to rich patrons.

Truly, the idea of a Lamborghini off-roader simply refused to die. And although only 301 LM002s were ever made, the tale of how it came to be proves that a good idea can survive anything, as long as people are willing to go bankrupt trying to make it a reality.

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