Buy This Rare Teledyne Cheetah Prototype That Inspired the Rambo Lambo

The Humvee eventually came out on top, but this contender in the competition built by Teledyne still has a very interesting history.

byPeter Holderith|
Trucks photo

When the U.S. Army finally tested finalists competing for its lucrative HMMWV contract in the early 1980s, only three contenders had made the cut. An entry from Chrysler, another from AM General—that would eventually win—and a third from Teledyne, known as the Cheetah. The history of the latter vehicle is very interesting, but few prototypes survive. Now, one has popped up for sale.

The Cheetah was originally designed by a California company called Mobility Technology International. The basic design was produced by more than just Teledyne, though. Versions of the Cheetah were later built by, of all companies, Lamborghini. It would eventually inspire the now-famous V12-powered LM002 "Rambo Lambo." The example for sale today is not quite as exotic. It's powered by a 6.9-liter diesel V8 from International that sends power to all four wheels through a GM-sourced three-speed automatic.

While its underpinnings may be more conventional, it's still exceedingly rare and capable. According to the listing on Mecum, only a handful still exist. Its pedestrian running gear is likewise disguised by bodywork that's anything but run of the mill. The Cheetah has a unique, low-slung aluminum body as well as a canvas roof and doors. Its diesel engine can likewise propel it to impressive speeds.

Below is a testing clip of what appears to be the fiberglass-bodied Lamborghini version of the vehicle. It attempts to make up for its lack of ground clearance with a massive steel skid plate under the body. This allows it to slide over obstacles. The eventual winner, the HMMWV, is much more capable off-road.

Despite being rare, interesting, and at least remotely aesthetically pleasing, Mecum estimates this particular example's hammer price to be in the range of just $15,000-$20,000. The vehicle is, after all, a prototype that is probably not legal for road use. A prospective owner would only be able to drive it off the beaten path, which is not really ideal for a one-off prototype.

That being said, the Cheetah is an interesting part of history just for the Lamborghini and Humvee connection. If you're looking to buy a unique piece of history for a collection, well, this may be a good opportunity.

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