SUV Pioneer: 48k-mile 1989 Laforza 4x4

The Laforza was one of the first automobiles marketed as a luxury sport utility vehicle. Other than Range Rover, the Lamborghini LM002 and the Mercedes G-Class (which wasn't offered here officially until 2002), I really can't think of anything else quite like the Laforza at the time. There sure were many vehicles like it after, however.

It was designed and built in Italy for military and police use. Then a manufacturer named Rayton Fissore used a Ford V8 engine and upgraded the interior to luxurious appointments before it was sold in the USA for the 1988 model year as a Laforza.

Styling is credited to Dutch-American Tom Tjaarda, who has quite a number of designs for various companies under his belt, including the DeTomaso Pantera, Chrysler LeBaron and Aston Martin Lagonda Coupe.

The Laforza is another mostly successful design of Mr. Tjaarda. Proportions are good. Styling is extremely bland and generic but that's part of the whole 'forgotten' charm of this thing. You can't tell whether it's a Jeep or a Toyota or something else. There is no logo on the grille but a "Laforza" badge does sit on the base of the hood hump. The greenhouse glass is plentiful, so vision isn't impaired as in most of today's cars, especially SUVs. This one also boasts some impressive ground clearance. I'm not sure whether the owner has raised it or what, but it looks funky especially with smaller-than-norm wheels.

The bottom line is that the design pulls off a large, attactive boxy shape that would  be duplicated hundreds of times over and over again in the '90s by dozens of automakers with maximum success.

Inside, occupants were treated to swaths of leather and wood in the best tradition of Italian luxury cars.

The seller states this survivor is in "excellent" condition and has no rust. They state the odometer as reading only 48,500 miles. From the pictures it looks excellent, especially the interior. Many owners often swap the stock wheels or tint the windows so this example seems refreshingly untouched. Black over tan is also a nice combo that flatters the car, inside and out.

The engine is a 5.0-litre Ford V8 powering all four wheels. The seller also says the vehicle has a moonroof.

I like these. The idea is along the same lines as the DeTomaso Pantera: Italian/exotic design coupled with reliable American muscle for power. They are also noteworthy for helping to start a huge trend in automotive history, even though they rarely get credit for it. Have an itch for a big people hauler, but don't want the typical Jeep Grand Cherokee or Ford Explorer? Grab one of these.

Find it here on ebay in Tallahassee, Florida.

1 comment:

  1. For a buyer who appreciates how unusual this SUV is, I'd say $5500 is a pretty good price for a sub-50K mile LaForza with the solid (if not particularly sophisticated) Ford V8 drivetrain.