At $9,900, Is This 1989 Laforza an Off-Roader That’s On-Point?


Nice Price or No Dice 1989 Laforza

Do you like engaging with questioning strangers? If so, you’d love owning today’s Nice Price or No Dice Laforza and the opportunities it affords to expound upon its history when people ask “what’s that?” Let’s see what such social interaction might rightfully cost.

I once read that people in some countries choose two-door cars over those with four doors because the latter implied status and wealth which increased the likelihood of getting carjacked or kidnapped and held for ransom. Being a more parsimonious two-door, yesterday’s 1984 Volkswagen Jetta should make drivers feel safe no matter where they are. Sadly, the $12,000 asking price didn’t prove equally as penurious, earning the Jetta a huge 85 percent No Dice loss.

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It may seem like it’s been since forever that luxury SUVs have been around, but the idea really only gained a stronghold in the U.S. market in the mid-1980s. It was around that time that Jeep began fancying up the Wagoneer, turning it Grand. At that same time, Ford was Eddie Bauer-izing the Bronco and moving it up-market. Range Rover came to America just a few years later to cash in on the trend, raising the bar even further for the off-roader snooty set. Another company that attempted to hitch its wagon to this rising star of high-priced and high-ground-clearance wagons was Rayton-Fissore.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking; Ray-tun Fiss-a-who?

Carrozzeria Fissore was a coachbuilder founded in Turin, Italy following WWI. It turned out a number of one-offs and special-bodied cars based on Fiats and DKWs. Up until the ‘70s, it was probably best known for designing and building the De Tomaso Vallelunga.

Over the years, however, the company also established a solid reputation for upscale people movers by crafting designer Italian suit editions of Fiat’s Multipla. The 1970s saw Fissore earning the contract to design and construct bodies for Swiss car-builder Peter Monteverdi. One of those included the Range Rover-like Safari, which was a riff on the International Scout.

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Rayton Fissore was established in 1976 as an off-shoot of the coachbuilder company. Its most notable product was the Magnum, a luxury off-roader introduced to the U.S. market as the Laforza in 1989.

The Laforza rides on an Iveco truck chassis originally intended for military use. As the Magnum in Europe, the most of the trucks were powered by a series of four-cylinder engines sourced from Fiat. In an effort to boost the brand’s fuel economy numbers, later models gained diesel engines from both VM Motori and BMW.

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For the U.S. market, Rayton Fissore decided on something with a few more horses, choosing Ford’s evergreen 5.0L V8 along with that marque’s four-speed AOD automatic. A Mopar New Process 229 two-speed transfer case splits the provided 225 horsepower between the front and rear axles. Atop all that sat a cleanly styled but somewhat anonymous five-door body designed by Pantera-penner Tom Tajjarda, and providing a roomy cabin. The trucks were built, not by Fissore, but at Pininfarina.

Image for article titled At $9,900, Is This 1989 Rayton-Fissore Laforza an Off-Roader That's On-Point?

In total, about 1,200 Laforzas (Laforzi?) were imported to the U.S., and while time has not been kind to many, this 1989 edition seems to have survived pretty much unscathed. It presents with a clean title, a white over black leather color scheme, and just 40,500 miles on the clock. Nothing seems to be amiss with the bodywork or trim, and the paint holds a reasonable shine in the pictures. Oh, and yes, the factory intended for these trucks to have panel gaps that you could stick a hand through. Another fun fact is that those are Fiat Uno tail lamps.

Moving to the cabin, there’s some scratching of the leather on the steering wheel, but other than that, the interior also looks amazingly well kept for its age. That lovely burl wood trim really dresses it up too. There’s a lot of parts bin stuff here, with a switchgear taken from Fiat and a shifter from Ford. Somehow, it all comes together in a charming fashion.

Image for article titled At $9,900, Is This 1989 Rayton-Fissore Laforza an Off-Roader That's On-Point?

According to the ad, this Laforza is from a collection and is being sold as part of the culling of that stable. To that end, the seller asks $9,900 for the truck. What’s your take on this seemingly tidy Laforza and that $9,900 asking? Does that seem like a fair deal to own a rare, funky luxury SUV? Or, is that just too much for a one-hit wonder?

You decide!

San Diego, California, Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

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