A What? 1990 Bertone Freeclimber

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Who is up for a Daihatsu Rocky, with a BMW diesel engine, and a custom body by Bertone of Italy? Anyone? Bueller? It doesn’t get any stranger than this 1990 Bertone Freeclimber oddball. Find this luxury SUV in Atlanta, GA for $12,500 here on craigslist  or saved here.

Apparently modifying Volvo’s wasn’t keeping the lights on at Bertone, so a new niche was explored with the Freeclimber. Who could blame them for trying? There was Laforza, Jeep, Land Rover, Lamborghini LM002, and more selling to high income clientele in the late 80s, so a Bertone SUV probably seemed like a good idea. Surprised they didn’t try gussying up a Suzuki Samurai as a baby companion to the Freeclimber. Hmm, maybe I should have been an executive back then! Though I probably still would have green lit the Cimarron, so maybe not!

Bertone did a nice job of hiding the FC’s Rocky roots. Ruote O.Z. turbine wheels, new formal grill with round headlights, Defender like removable roof, and unique paint treatments helped the Freeclimber look more Bavarian creme pie and less bento box. This example looks like it has received a respray, as most Bertone’s came with unique stripe packages, plus the emblems look faded and the center caps have gone to live elsewhere. Also, this is only powered by BMW, and should be badged as a Bertone. Just observations, not detractions for this odd duck.

The 2.4L BMW turbo diesel six should be familiar to any Lincoln Diesel lovers, as it did duty in the Mark VII and bustleback Continental. Matched to a five-speed manual, this rugged box should provide good grunt and economy. Four-wheel disc brakes and four-wheel drive were definitely upscale thirty years ago and helped justify the premium over the basic Daihatsu. Inside, cushy leather seats and door panels spruce up the Japanese plastics. Everything looks very clean, with the saggy sunroof shade and drilled in alarm light being small niggles. The owner claims less than 39,000 actual miles, but I’d want to see some proof since they haven’t provided a whole lot of information and don’t seem to know what they have. With everyone clamoring for the SUV image, maybe Bertone should be reincarnated in the form of a new, rugged, upscale trucklet. They’d probably sell more than the original 2,800 Freeclimbers. Anyone miss the days of oddballs?

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  1. SAM61

    Very interesting vehicle. It is nice but gives the impression of being a Chinese or Russian knockoff of something…not sure what.

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  2. Steve M

    ^^^^^^ well said ^^^^^ Very cool..ish truck….ish tho. BTW the BMW M21 Engine is spectacular and not just used in a few Lincolns.

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  3. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Nothing says “Bertone” like that boxes on more boxes dash layout

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  4. JoeT

    Could have bought one in Germany 2 years ago for under €2000. It wasn’t as nice but it wasn’t $9000 worse either.

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  5. Gay Car Nut

    Sweet looking Bertone Freeclimber. I’ve heard of Bertone, but I thought he only designed vehicles, I didn’t know there were vehicles made by Bertone.

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  6. Mountainwoodie

    Talk about an oddball…wonder how seller settled on the ask….theres a hilarious Russian(?) video of a Rocky Bertone getting stuck in some deep mud and being pulled out by what appears to be your standard issue Fiat based Russky econobox…all to the soundtrack of a jazz band (I guess) playing an uptempo The Sting- like piece. Pretty weird.

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  7. Fred

    One just sold on Petrolicious.

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  8. PRA4SNW

    Maybe they were going after the G-Wagen market?

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  9. carsofchaos

    For some reason I’ve gotten into the little two door 4×4’s from the 80’s and early 90’s lately…..the Sidekick, Geo/Chevy Tracker ZR2, Dodge Raider, etc. Not sure why other than they seem sort of anti-car. I like the idea of having 4×4 without having to spring for a Jeep (nothing against Jeeps, I have had many). I went with a 1988 Mitsubishi Montero 2 door 4×4 which will arrive at my garage this weekend….

    Like 1

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