Lamborghini LM002. Image via Adobe Stock

Living the American dream: Burning big bucks and some serious rubber

These days, if you have a chequebook that can take the strain, there are some weird and wonderful ways to spend your money.


Lamborghini LM002. Image via Adobe Stock

If you have money to burn, opportunities to have something weird or exclusive, or both, abound in the car market. The good news is that you can impress just as much off-road these days as you can by owning a boulevard cruiser.

The fact that some of these offerings will use enough fuel to keep a Boeing 767 happily flying from one continent to another is inconsequential — if you have. the money to buy the vehicle, the fuel price is incidental.

American money and opulence

The kings of the outlandish money-spenders have to be the Americans.

Ranking high among the royalty is one John Hennessey who, you guessed it, is from Texas. He seems to do everything on a scale that proves that everything from Texas is bigger and better.

The Hennessey Performance Engineering (HPE) team blurb says they have been “making fast cars go faster since 1991”. Their operation contains a 4 738 m² workshop and showroom facility. Shoot, they also claim that they are the only high-performance aftermarket firm in the world with their own test track.

But it is what they do to “trucks” that is fascinating. 

Take the Jeep Gladiator (or Hennessey Maximus version) as an example.

You can picture John Hennessey tipping his white stetson back on his head and hitching up his jeans by the rodeo buckle and saying (which, he has): “There’s nothing like jumping a 735.4kw HP Jeep over sand dunes. Maximus 1000 is a very special vehicle under any driving conditions, on or off-road.”

(Heck, he’s from Texas so he should know).

Jeep Gladiator/ Hennessey Maximus

Want one? Well, get ready to shell out R3.9 million and compete for one of only 24 made.

It’s not that steep a sticker price really when you consider that it includes a base Jeep Gladiator Truck (of which it appears there is very little left after the boys get stuck in. What is intriguing is that they don’t say where all the chucked away bits go).

The rebuild includes a new 2020 Jeep Gladiator Truck; 6.2-litre supercharged Hellcat V8 engine; eight-speed automatic transmission; engine upgrade to 735 kW; radiator, fuel system; 20-inch wheels; upgraded suspension system; new leather interior and a three-year warranty.

Not disclosed is the size of the fuel tank and its capacity.

“In Texas, we pump more than three million barrels a day,” John would retort. “We don’t care.”

Here in little-old SA, if you beat the restrictions on LHD vehicles, owning one of these beasts would probably mean shelling out extra to have a custom-made fuel trailer bouncing along behind when you take on a long 4×4 trip into the wilderness.

Be advised, though, that crossing the border with extra fuel aboard sometimes attracts import duty in countries like Mozambique.

Spend some money on the Hennessey VelociRaptor 6×6

Okay, but if you want something funky, then consider the 2020 Hennessey VelociRaptor 6×6. Not included in the price is building a new garage to house this monster.

For a mere R5.9 million (the starting price) you get a base 2020 Raptor four-door truck; 6×6 locking rear axles; upgraded Fox suspension; upgraded 20-inch wheels and off-road tyres; special front and rear bumpers, rollbar and LED lights.

Oh, yeah, it also includes the VelociRaptor 600 twin-turbo upgrade for the 6×6 for more power and performance.

The 600+ HP upgrade includes upgraded twin turbochargers; stainless steel exhaust modifications; upgraded front-mounted air to air intercooler and plumbing and re-tuned factory computer.

The list of optional extras (too long to mention all of them) includes electronic upgrades and armouring systems. (I don’t suppose somebody who needs armour would consider buying a stock Raptor and attracting a little less attention. Nah, what’s a little automatic gunfire between enemies.)

Again, some typical understated John Hennessey sales talk:

“Our VelociRaptor 6×6 is pure aggression on wheels – all six of them. The new Ford Raptor is going to be one of the best all-around trucks ever built.”

What? Not the best-ever?

At this point, rather than extolling the Hennessey sales list, it’s appropriate to remind the Texans that the Italians got in long before them. (Eating a little humble pie never hurt). It was a little bit of Lamborghini that perfected the trend between 1986 and 1993 with the LM002.

Lamborghini LM002

The Lamborghini baby, which followed the Cheetah and Lambo 001, still attracts a decent price and gets lots of attention.

Nicknamed the “Rambo Lambo” the LM002 was powered by the 334 kW V12 from the Countach.

Despite its size and weight, it could climb frighteningly steep gradients. It is capable of getting to 210 km/h and accelerating from 0 to 100km/h in 7.8 seconds.

Why the “Rambo Lambo”? Well, Sylvester Stallone did own one as, of course, did Mike Tyson.

The good thing for South Africans with their wide open spaces is that it has a 290-litre fuel tank — that’s R 4,402.20 to fill the tank if you chuck in Premium 95 in Gauteng. 

The common denominator for all of these vehicles-and others of their ilk must be the pure adrenaline that they generate.

A pity that the Hennessey offerings would be illegal here. How do you think a Texan would react by having a boy from SA demanding that he produce a one-off RHD?