James Mackintosh 6 years ago 0

Sunday eBay Wouldya: LaForza GT

The obvious question to ask here is what the hell is a LaForza?

Remind me later
The name conjures up images of some impossibly exotic Italian supercar. Maybe with scissor doors, a mid-mounted V12, possibly a shape sprouting from the pen of Giugiaro. But what you're presented with is this... uhh... is that an Isuzu Trooper? Mitsubishi Montero? It's a generic-looking SUV, what the hell? If you've never heard of LaForza we don't blame you. Despite the best of intentions, LaForza was never a well-known name either in the US, or in Europe. The brand was a money-grab opportunity from back when the SUV craze was just starting to get into its stride in the US: 1989. A small Italian company called Rayton Fissore made the LaForza. In Italy though, it was called the Magnum, and was available with a choice of Fiat and Alfa Romeo petrol engines plus a diesel - and primarily used by the police and military. At the time, the original Range Rover was beginning to gain popularity in the states, and Rayton thought a profit could be made. So the Rayton Fissore Magnum, which was underpinned with an Iveco chassis, was converted into the LaForza. Out went the Italian engines, and in went a Ford V8 - known as a the "5.0" to Vanilla Ice aficionados. The interior was slathered in acres of soft leather and the dashboard was trimmed in wood. Befitting its SUV persona, the LaForza came with four wheel drive, a low range gearbox, and plenty of ground clearance. The 4-speed automatic transmission was also sourced from Ford. Mechanically, it wasn't revolutionary. It was a crude SUV with a Ford V8 and a leather-lined interior. It's just that the whole concept of a posh SUV was still so fresh and interesting at the time, sales of the LaForza took off... just kidding, they sold about four of these things before giving up. Hey, it's not a surprise, they were asking $50,000 for one in 1990, when a Range Rover started around $38,000 - and people knew what the hell that was! So of course LaForza's importers closed their doors after little more than a year, and that was the end of the story... until 1993, when someone else wanted to try it out. Monster Motorsports, who are better known for stuffing Ford V8s into Mazda roadsters, bought the remaining LaForza shells, and began selling them as LaForza GTs, some with superchargers as well! This particular LaForza currently for sale on eBay is a 2000 model, although it's titled as a 1989 model... Hmm. Let's hear the seller explain that: "Up for no reserve auction is a 2000 Laforza 5.0l. This is a very RARE Italian luxuxry SUV. Due to the very limited production of this truck it was issued 1989 VIN number, HOWEVER this was actually manufactured and built in the year 2000. We can provide the documentation for this." Yup, still clear as mud. This was one of the LaForzas built by Monster Motorsports, but we have no idea what sort of issues the 1989  registration would present. Either way, it looks in decent shape: the truck only has 97k miles, with a recent exhaust system. Although it's an oddball rarity, most of the oily bits (engine, transmission, transfer case, etc) are all off-the-shelf Ford parts, so in theory you could keep it running for pocket money... ...but they said the same thing about the DeTomaso Pantera and its Ford engine. Elvis had one, and it was so bad he shot it. The question is: with bidding currently at $3,550, would you whip out your chequebook and find a a space for this rare Italian stallion in your garage? Or would you just buy an old Range Rover? Edit: bidding ended at $3,550 for this LaForza, which sounds like a pretty good deal to me.