True confession: I finally got stumped. It went by in front of me at the intersection, and I wasn’t really paying attention. A big bland boxy SUV; my subconscious identifying mechanism probably categorized it as a gen 2 Trooper. But then it rejected that, and sent a message back saying that impression didn’t fit with the memory banks, and I should wake up and notice what just drove by. Upon doing that, my only response was “that doesn’t belong here”. Well, it does, but it didn’t just then, in the momentary blank spot I was drawing. How about you?
Well, That wasn’t going to do, so I whipped across the empty right lane, turned and followed it. And when the Laforza name popped into view, I still couldn’t properly explain it to Stephanie. I knew it was an Italo-American project, conceived in the height of the SUV fever, and the 5 Liter badge meant that Windsor’s finest was under the hood. But did they really sell this thing here? Stephanie gave me that look reserved for senior moments. This is not the walking encyclopedia she’s used to. Time to put me out to pasture.
Well, the Laforza wasn’t exactly mainstream. It started life as the Rayton Fissore Magnum 4×4 shown in Turin in 1985. Designed by Tom Tjaarda, who penned that more famous Italo-American project, the Pantera, and based on an IVECO 4×4 military truck chassis, the Laforza combined hard core underpinnings with a handsome and plush body to compete against the Range Rover. Remarkably, it was federalized and sold on and off in small numbers for a number of years here, from 1989 through 2003, or whenever they finally got rid of the last of them.
Later versions had the 185 hp Ford replaced with various high-powered Ford and Chevy supercharged engines, in an effort to justify the $60k and up prices being asked. Apparently it has a very nice hand-stitched Italian interior. If I ever see it again, I will verify that. And know instantly what it is.