Before The Urus, Levante And Stelvio, There Was LaForza

In the market for a luxury SUV with a bit of Latin flair? Italy has plenty of fresh metal to offer, between the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Maserati Levante, and Lamborghini Urus. But they weren’t the first.

The original “Rambo Lambo” wasn’t either. Just before Lamborghini started producing the LM002, an independent manufacturer called Rayton-Fissore began crafting the Range Rover rival you see here.

Marketed in Europe as the Magnum and in the United States under the name LaForza, Italy’s first real luxury sport-ute was based on an Iveco chassis that Fiat’s truck division had (not unlike the aforementioned LM002) originally designed for military applications. An offshoot of a longstanding Italian coachbuilder, Rayton-Fissore gave it bodywork vaguely reminiscent of the original Range Rover, and an interior that surely seemed at least as luxurious (for its time), with creamy Italian leather and a curved wood dashboard.

While the Magnum employed a variety of gasoline and diesel engines, the US-spec LaForza used a nice, big 5.0-liter V8 sourced from Ford along with a four-speed automatic overdrive transmission. Later versions offered even larger engines, including a 5.8-liter version of the same unit, a 6.0-liter V8 from GM, and even some supercharged versions. There was one said to have been built with an even bigger 7.5-liter Ford V8. But this was one of the first made for the US market back in 1989, with Dearborn’s tried-and-true, fuel-injected 5.0-liter engine that has surely proven more reliable than the ’80s Italian assembly, to the rocky conditions for which the vehicle was designed.

Intrigued? Then we have good news for you because this example is up for grabs. And it won’t cost you as much as an LM002 – or an Urus, Levante, or Stelvio for that matter. Heck, it won’t even cost you as much as a bare-bones new Fiat 500. RM Sotheby‘s will auction off this unusual Italian creation come this spring in Indiana, where it expects it to sell for somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000-$15,000.

By way of comparison, the same auctioneer has a pristine LM002 on the docket for Amelia Island in March with less than 790 miles on the clock and a pre-sale estimate in the $200-250k range.

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  • Adi

    Looks like a bloated FIAT Uno.

  • TheHake

    It’s ugly and I love it!

  • TheHake
  • europeon

    That’s a 90’s car. LaForza was an 80’s car.

  • TheHake

    2 of them for sale in Italy as well!

  • donald seymour

    Sad thing is that I remember this vehicle in my youth and I don’t know why.

    • T_Cake

      Never saw one of these. But I’ve seen plenty of those 5.0’s in the old Mustangs and F-150’s.

  • supermanuel

    Because of the copycat styling it has all the merits (and appeal) of one of those appalling Chinese Evoque knock-offs

  • seriously

    its nice looking for its time, i mean honestly the Range Rover didnt start looking nice until BMW took over, and most high end SUVs werent pretty to look at I did really like the 90s Landcruiser and Montero though

  • A. Borg

    I had never heard of this SUV, but there was also the Monteverdi Safari, which was another ludicrous luxury SUV pioneer:

    • Monteverdi Safari, that was one nice luxury IH Scout.

      Anorak fact: Monteverdi did 4 door Range Rover conversion that reportedly drive the decision for 4 door Ranger Rover by BL.

  • Bash

    A 7.5 liter engine! they surely were after and aiming at the top notch people. wonder why have’t they consider the Asian market or Russia beside US.

    • Lol Chinese hasn’t yet opened up and so does Russia at that time.

      But I never really heard LaForza in Middle East, I’m sure this car would be a best seller there.

  • Don’t forget it was designed by late Tom Tjaarda, man behind Pantera.

    And yeah about 5 years ago LaForza were turned over for Cash for Clunkers, I doubt the value has risen.

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