Military Luxury Truck: 1989 Laforza

The world of 1980s SUVs continues to heat up as the spillover effect of the K5 Chevy Blazer and original Ford Bronco is felt. Trucks like 4Runners, Land Cruisers, and Dodge Raiders continue to appreciate while still remaining somewhat affordable, but the best of the best are easing into the five figure range. So, what remains for an unusual squarebody that won’t break the bank but has a shot at becoming more desirable? Well, how about a legit, warmed-over military vehicle that isn’t a Mercedes G-Wagen? Enter the Rayton-Fissore Magnum, otherwise known as a Laforza in the United States where it came with a Ford-sourced V8 and an optional supercharger like this example here on craigslist is equipped with.

The Laforza wasn’t exactly a success, but I don’t know that you can call it an outright failure, either. The truck oftentimes appears as a project, like this one does, despite having a fairly bulletproof powerplant. The Laforza was intended to be a highly luxurious entry in the early days of four wheel drive sport utility vehicles, but it never really caught fire like other trucks in the same category. Perhaps this is because the Laforza occupied a somewhat unusual space in the SUV market, as it was certainly a capable beat but one sold in very limited quantities, and while it was intended to be exotic, it didn’t have the same street cred as a Mercedes-Benz G-Class or a Lamborghini LM002. It was cheaper than both of those but more expensive than a Blazer, but is was mostly lack of awareness that killed the model’s chances.

You’ll note in the picture above the small “Pininfarina” badge; yes, this unusual 4×4 offering was designed by the prestigious firm, adding to its exclusivity but not necessarily increasing its favor with U.S. consumers. By and large, it was a small dealer network and lack of marketing dollars that torpedoed the brand’s chance in the U.S. as the drivetrain was a proven product with ample parts supply. Now, finding other items like body panels and interior trim would prove far more difficult, and if you buy one of these today, I hope you have a source for spares as they’re not easy to find in the lower 48. Fortunately, the Rayton-Fissore Magnum was sold globally, so there may be some good parts trucks in other countries, so long as you don’t mind shipping big items from overseas.

The seller’s truck doesn’t look too rough, but it is a project. The listing notes you can’t hear it run because the starter is dead, and that’s truly a shame because it’s equipped with the optional supercharger which was provided by both Eaton and Kenne Belle throughout its production. The truck is said to have very little rust despite residing in Vermont, and the frame is said to be sound. As expected, the seller highlights loads of spares that will accompany the truck when it changes hands, as well as the factory shop manuals. The brakes are said to be in good order, but with no battery installed, you’ll need to bring your own to test electrical components. The asking price is $3,750, which seems reasonable for an Italian truck with real off-road prowess and a supercharged Ford V8 under the hood.

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Comments

  1. Connecticut Mark

    Looks like an Isuzu trooper

    Like 4
  2. Kincer Kincer Member

    Looks like a 4 door lifted Yugo to me lol

    Like 5
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    ….and you can easily get parts at your local Laforza dealer.

    Like 8
  4. Raymond

    My LaForza dealer switched to selling Hudson’s now….

    Like 3
  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    Ours sells Yugos.

    Like 2
    • Steveo

      Yugo looking for Laforza parts…

      Like 4
  6. wuzjeepnowsaab

    I bought a can’t-remember-what on craigslist a few years ago and the seller had one of these in his garage. They’re about the size of fs Broncos and his mid-80’s edition had a 351 in it. For the time period they did have lux looking interiors. Think Maserati “breadloaf” sort of seats and lots of camel/saddle color everywhere.

    He said ‘I’d take 5500 for it’ and I thought ‘yeah I bet you would’ In retrospect it probably wasn’t a bad ask because it was in pretty good nick but at that point in my life I was well over the 11mpg suv experience lol

    Like 2
  7. Car Nut Tacoma

    I first read about the LaForza in a Car and Driver magazine article. At the time, I thought that Land Rover had changed the styling of the Range Rover.

    Like 1
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Seriously?! Only 6 pictures posted?! That’s nowhere near enough. If you’re going to sell a vehicle online, you really need to post more pictures than this.

    Like 1
    • wuzjeepnowsaab

      lol…that’s just Vermont. People up that-a-ways have a healthy and ornery distrust for pretty much everyone…and a disposition to match

      I bet if you called and got through his defenses he’d send you a couple dozen pictures and buy you a beer as well

  9. Michael

    Looks like a fugly Range Rover.
    You guys need to stick with what you know and it’s not military vehicles , or what you call it and others might call wannabe military.

    Like 3
  10. Howie Mueler

    When you see something for sale and they have had 4 sale signs on it, that tells me that locals don’t want it, this was posted on Craig’s List 23 days ago.

    Like 2
  11. MG Steve

    There was a vacant lot next to a wrecking yard, here in Escondido, CA. There were a BUNCH of these things (all in white), I’d guess close to 70 – 80, all lined up and parked in rows. No attempt at selling them, it appeared. Supposedly, they were being worked on by some shop in town??? I looked at them a couple of times, just out of curiosity. Not impressive. The gauges looked like they all came from Pep Boys or something. One-by-one, they would disappear, but it took YEARS before they were all gone. If memory serves, the last few ended up in the wrecking yard. Does anyone know more about his Escondido (north San Diego County) connection???

  12. That Guy

    With vintage 4x4s hitting their stride as collectibles, these might be a shrewd buy now. I say “might.” At least the buy-in is low enough that you won’t be out much if I’m wrong.

  13. chrlsful

    yeah, just like those plants that disappear slowly from my yard…

  14. Daniel Wilson

    Reminds me of a Nissan Stanza Wagon. Thing is pretty awful looking.

  15. SubGothius

    Designed by Tom Tjaarda, of Pantera and Fiat 124 Spider fame (among many others). Pininfarina just assembled them, and later applied some minor styling updates.

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