After several years of arriving at our home in an old sport utility vehicle in various states of disrepair, our handyman arrived recently in a used, bright red Laforza, Laforza.
Like other short-lived manufacturers, Laforza has a niche following, particularly since the American carmaker was only around from 1985-2003.
The company sold an Italian-built military and police body and chassis designed by Tom Tjaarda, fitted with Italian leather interior and a fuel injected Ford Windsor engine.
It was marketed as a "luxury 4×4", competing with the Range Rover. The vehicle was refreshed in 1998 with a "new" design to include more modern amenities, but used the same basic body and drivetrain.
The origin of the Laforza was the Rayton Fissore Magnum 4×4 presented at the Turin Motor Show in 1985. This vehicle was based on an Iveco military 4×4 VM90 (40-10 frame) that was shortened and lowered. The front and rear differentials, suspension, and brakes were carried over from the Iveco truck.
The first Laforza arrived in the United States between 1988-89 with some modifications to the Magnum 4×4 base frame. The body underwent some minor restyling, bumpers and tail lights were different, as well as the headlights and grille.
Some of the vehicle's design innovations included the composite integrated bumpers painted in the same color of the body, smooth roof lines without rain gutters, and a more rounded body shape pioneering modern SUV design futures.
Several models of the Laforza were available, including the 5.0-liter Laforza our handyman John now owns.
After helping us with a heating issue, John showed me around his Laforza, including giving me a copy of his used car information via a printout from NADAGuides.com.
The printout details that the 1990 Laforza Laforza 4-door wagon 4×4 sold new in 1990 for $43,900.
In 2004, when the car was first purchased as a used vehicle, its value was $9,150 (low retail), $12,600 (average retail) and $15,500 (high retail).
Here's a brief report on Laforza written by Sam Fiorani and published on the website www.automotivetraveler.com:
"Occasionally, one of these dinosaurs comes up for sale. Prices have fallen from their initial $50,000 (in 1989) range to well below $10,000 today. While the skin-and-bones dinosaurs left us pockets of oil around the world, this steel-bodied dinosaur only uses petroleum products like it's the 1980s all over again.
"Spotting a Laforza today is rarer than finding an intact Tyrannosaurs skeleton fossil. Those of us dedicated automotive paleontologists are left to uncover these extinct species of a bygone era to educate future generations."
Here are some facts and figures about Laforza:
Manufacturer, Rayton Fissore/Laforza (Sometimes called Rayton Fissore Magnum); Production years, 1985-2003; Class: Sport utility vehicle; Body, 4-door; Layout: Front engine, four-wheel drive; Engines: 5.0 L V8; 5.8 L V8; 6.0 L V8; Transmission, 4-speed automatic.
Images © James Raia