Weekly Treasure: 1989 Laforza Magnum

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Everyone will ask 'what the heck is this thing?'

The Rayton-Fissore Magnum 4x4 made its first appearance in 1984 and landed in the US in 1989 as the Laforza Magnum. The Italian-designed SUV's guts came directly from a military-spec off-road vehicle built by Italy's Iveco. The original idea was for the SUV to be a military and police vehicle only but then someone had the idea it could do double duty as a Range Rover fighter. Just add a more luxurious interior like Italian leather seats, wood trim, and other fine details and call it a day.

Actually, it wasn't a bad idea. It worked for a number of years and the Laforza wasn't discontinued in the US until 2003. This is a true SUV rather than a car-based crossover so it's pretty capable off-road. It features a steel body that's bolted to the subframe.

Hemmings
Hemmings

The part-time four-wheel-drive system has front and rear differentials, and the rear axle is always engaged. A grand total of 18,000 Magnums were built throughout its production life, but only 1,200 or so were American-spec. In fact, final assembly took place for the latter in Brighton, Michigan. The rolling chassis and interior were made in Italy but all mechanicals were US-installed.

These US models received various tweaks to the base frame such as reinforced cross members. The reason? To accommodate a Mustang-sourced 5.0-liter Ford V8 engine and automatic transmission. Some examples were further fitted with a supercharger. In later years following a company restructuring, the Laforza Prime debuted with a full-time 4WD transfer case and other enhancements to keep it fresh.

Hemmings
Hemmings
Hemmings
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At least one known effort was made to revive the brand and vehicle in the US but this proved to be unsuccessful. There are still many examples in existence in the US but this 1989 model is actually quite special.

It's currently up for sale on Hemmings for $15,000 or best offer. VIN #247 was one of just 250 units delivered that year in the US and was personally driven off the assembly line by its designer, Tom Tjaarda, the guy who styled the DeTomaso Pantera. Not only did it serve as a company press car but was also used for a scene in 1990's "Pretty Woman" starring Julia Roberts. It has a total of 89,000 miles and is accident and rust-free. Everything works as it should and remains in ideal driving condition.

Hemmings
Hemmings
Hemmings
Source Credits: Hemmings

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