Curbside Classic: La Forza 5 Liter – May The Forza Be With You

(first posted 1/18/2012) 

TheProfessor47 shot this Laforza on the street at night in LA, and says:

We’re due for a CC on this one. Designed by Pininfarina, it was the first Italian SUV available, and probably the only Italian SUV ever sold in America. They sold in limited numbers; by some estimates, there are only 400 left. Sorry for the grainy photos, they were shot at night in the middle of LA with an awful camera.

Well, you’ve mostly done it right there, except for the Pininfarina part. I can add a few more details, but this isn’t the kind of car that left an overly big or lasting impression. The last time I saw one on the street here, I momentarily blanked out…it’s… a…a…

Well, the Laforza wasn’t exactly mainstream. And its styling was a bit generic. It started life as the Rayton-Fissore Magnum 4×4 shown in Turin in 1985. It was designed by Tom Tjaarda, who penned that more famous Italo-American project, the Pantera. And its underpinnings were based on an IVECO 4×4 military truck chassis. The Laforza combined those hard core underpinnings with a handsome and plush body to compete against the Range Rover. It essentially was a more truly European take on the luxury SUV/Range Rover genre than the two Italianized Scouts we looked at recently. Well, except for the American V8 that found their way into it.

Remarkably, it was federalized and sold on and off in small numbers for a number of years here, from 1989 through 2003, or whenever they finally got rid of the last of them. Later versions had the 185 hp Ford 5.0 V8 replaced with various high-powered Ford and Chevy supercharged engines, in an effort to justify the $60k and up prices being asked. Apparently it has a very nice hand-stitched Italian interior. Well, that’s it for me. Anyone else have something more to add to the story?