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Two for One! 1989 Laforza Prima

The Laforza SUV did not earn the respect it perhaps hoped for as a brand, as the company today is merely a footnote on the pages of history about mass-market four wheel drives. Today, they remain a curiosity, but perhaps one that should be taken a bit more seriously given the impact nostalgia is having on enthusiasts looking to snatch up the cars and trucks of their youth. I’m not saying anyone spent their childhood dreaming about a Laforza, but it’s 80s excess at its finest, if you’re into that sort of thing. This example is listed here on eBay by a vintage SUV specialist and it comes its own parts truck!

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Russel G. for the find. The Laforza combined military-grade underpinnings with American V8 power and a high-grade interior only an Italian could imagine. The idea of luxurious SUV with available 4WD likely seemed incredibly foreign at the time, but look around today: it’s practically old-hat. While the Mercedes G-Wagen created the demographic of former military vehicles loaded up with top-shelf luxury features long before Hummer did with the H2, Laforza was even more groundbreaking by introducing its SUV when it did. The interior of this example is holding up nicely despite the vulnerable materials; the aftermarket headunit is tacky.

Somewhat hilariously, there’s a bread-and-butter 5.0L V8, just like you’d find in any Fox body Mustang, sitting under the hood. The good news is these parts will at least be cheap and easy to track down, but forget about any additional exotica you may have been hoping for due to the Italian heritage on display elsewhere. The Laforza is a mixed bag in this regard, as the stoutness of the drivetrain can be overshadowed by the myriad other issues associated with quality control and impossible to find parts. Unlike replacing the grill on your Camry, finding one for a Laforza is a trick. That said, I’m just now noticing the headlights look like they came off an Isuzu Trooper.

Of course, this seller has addressed concerns over hard-to-find parts by including an entire parts truck with the deal. The listing claims they sold the Laforza ten years ago and that it’s now come back to them from that last buyer, so it’s entirely likely the seller has known about the truck’s whereabouts the entire time, and that it was in the hands of someone who knew what it would take to keep one on the road. The runner comes with a full assortment of recent maintenance in its history folder, from fluid changes to a fuel system service. Overall, if you have to own a Laforza, this seems like the smartest way to get into owning one.


  1. michael streuly

    Don’t understand why you have a problem with the aftermarket stereo most factory stereos are nothing special. First thing i get rid of is the factory stereo and buy a better one.

    Like 5
  2. Rob

    “long before Hummer did with the H2”

    Did you mean H1? The H2, while still a big beast, rode on a Tahoe chassis while the H1 was a gussied up military M998 Humvee. I was “issued” a Humvee while in the Army and while they were VERY capable comfort wasn’t even on the same planet when that came to be. The civilian version did a lot to help in that area though.

    As for this: looks like they took a Pathfinder and put a different front clip on it, redid the interior, and put a bigger engine in it. All in all – ugly. My opinion anyway.

    Like 4
  3. alphasud Member

    I remember when these came out. I believe they used the Ford drivetrain as it was an easy solution to being able to import this vehicle using a federalized powertrain. Funny when I look at how it’s put together it reminds me of an eastern block car.

    Like 3
  4. Nick Hockman Member

    I want this American powered isuzu.

  5. Douglas Smith

    I remember when they were new, and a local dealer had 5 or 6 for a very long time.It was kind of like the “Ducks Unlimited” Suburban in that it did not look as expensive as it was.

  6. Chris Londish Member

    Never seen one before are they a Isuzu Ford hybrid?

    • Jim

      lol..close..Iveco… Saw these things when I was stationed in Europe. They were called the Magnum and made by Rayton.

    • SubGothius

      No, only the headlights appear to come from Isuzu. These were built in Italy on a modified IVECO commercial truck chassis and drivetrain with custom interior and bodywork designed by Tom Tjaarda (of DeTomaso Pantera fame), and exported sans engines to the US where the Ford 5.0L V8 crate engine was fitted.

  7. Jay

    Headlights from Ford Bronco,taillights from Citroen BX,door handles from Lancia,NP209 transfer case (JEEP GrWagoneer),based on IVECO TurboDaily chassis. Originally build by Rayton Fissore in Italy.

    Like 1

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