True confession: I finally got stumped with this white box. It went by in front of me at the intersection, and I wasn’t really paying attention. Another big, bland, boxy SUV; my subconscious identifying mechanism probably categorized it as a gen 2 Trooper. But then it sent a message rejecting my initial deduction and nagged me to wake up and notice what just drove by. Upon doing so, my only response was “that doesn’t belong here.” Actually, it does, but it didn’t fit in the blank spot I had drawn.
That wasn’t going to do, so I whipped across the empty right lane, turned and followed it. When the Laforza name popped into view, I still couldn’t properly explain it to Stephanie. I knew it was an Italo-American project, conceived during the height of SUV fever, and that the 5 Liter badge meant Windsor’s finest was under the hood. But did they really sell this thing here? Stephanie gave me the look reserved for senior moments. This was not the walking encyclopedia she was used to. Perhaps it was time to put me out to pasture.
In my defense, the Laforza wasn’t exactly mainstream. It started life as the Rayton Fissore Magnum 4×4 shown in Turin in 1985. Designed by Tom Tjaarda, who penned that more famous Italo-American project, the Pantera, and based loosely on an IVECO 4×4 military truck chassis, the Laforza combined hard core underpinnings with a handsome and plush body to compete against the Range Rover. The initial intended market was primarily the police and military. Remarkably, it was federalized and sold in small numbers, from 1989 through 2003, or whenever they finally got rid of the last of them.
Later versions had the 185 hp Ford replaced with various high-powered Ford and Chevy supercharged engines, in an effort to justify the $60k-and-up asking price. Apparently they have very nice hand-stitched Italian leather interiors. If I ever see one again, I will verify that, as well as instantly identify what it is.