The Poor Man’s LM002: 1998 Laforza

Despite being a infamous sales flop, the Laforza SUV still pops up more than you’d expect on the used truck market. These were oddballs from Day 1, not possessing any single great skill and wrapped in a seriously forgettable exterior. This one recently showed up here on Facebook Marketplace and comes with the later supercharged Ford-sourced 5.0L V8, good for about 300 b.h.p. If you’re looking to take on a slightly exotic SUV project that isn’t a Range Rover or Lamborghini, look no further.

While the comparison with Lamborghini’s LM002 may seem laughable (at least in terms of values), the Laforza was based off of a robust military-grade 4WD platform. When adapted for the American market, the Ford powertrain was installed and would later be diversified to include a few different means of upgrading the available horsepower. Superchargers from Kenne Bell and Eaton were optional on different years of the luxo-rig, but the seller doesn’t specify which one is providing the added boost here.

The interiors were upgraded in only the finest Italian fashion, with acres of leather and wood everywhere you looked. Like a vintage Maserati Biturbo, it quickly looks pretty well trashed if not maintained, and this one is no exception. Still, I’ll bet when it was new it knocked people off their feet given the heyday of the overloaded high-end SUV hadn’t arrived just yet. The Eddie Bauer edition Explorer was the best you were going to do if a 4WD rig equipped with overstuffed seats and a 10-disc CD changer was a priority.

Surprisingly, the engine bay looks quite fresh. Other photos in the listing show the tell-tale Copart sticker in the front glass, so I’m guessing the seller knows very little about this Laforza’s history. I have little insight into what parts supply looks like these days, but at least the major components should be fairly easy to source. If there’s a Laforza owner’s group out there, I’d love to know what the current caretakers of these limited-production SUVs think of their rigs – the ultimate in cheap luxury with a slice of American brawn or a formidable off-road weapon wearing a tuxedo?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Me

    So, what engine is that?

    • Tirefriar

      It’s a Ford 5.0. Supercharger could be Kenne Bell or Eaton, depending on which ‘98 model you got (Bell was on a Mustang GT sourced motor and Eaton on an Exploder sourced 5.0). To me this looks like Eaton, so this must a 5.0 engine with full timeAWD from the Exploder

  2. LARRY

    Not sure but whatever it is it looks like it will haul…

    Like 1
    • blyndgesser

      I think the curb weight is about 6000 lbs. So most of what it hauls is itself.

      Like 1
  3. Husky

    Front leather seats looks like Saab 900 turbo seats.

  4. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    I saw a handful of these in Miami back in the day. Probably “low key” drug money
    owners.

  5. emeltz Member

    I worked for a Porsche/Audi/VW dealer back in 1987-1988 and they brought on the Laforza to add to their lineup. Even new the only thing that impressed me about them was the high price tag for a Ford powered SUV with an uninspired style. The dealership dropped them pretty quickly.

  6. SubGothius

    Designed by Tom Tjaarda, not one of his more sensational designs but understatedly handsome regardless. These were pretty much only sold to recoup the cost of developing them to compete for an Italian military vehicle contract, which it didn’t wind up winning. It uses an Iveco truck chassis, and pretty much everything else mechanical is off-the-shelf, so aside from model-specific body and trim pieces, parts are just a matter of figuring out who supplied them or what other mass-market vehicles they originated in.

  7. Gay Car Nut

    “Poor Man’s LM002?” LOL! Looking at this vehicle, I was thinking more “Poor Man’s Land Rover.”

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