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The Rayton Fissore / LaForza Magnum: The first luxury SUV

The origin

The Magnum, presented in 1984 by Rayton Fissore (Carrozzeria Fissore heir company), was the last entirely Italian off-road vehicle after the Fiat Campagnola left the scene in 1987.

Designed by Tom Tjaarda and presented at the Turin Motor Show in 1985, it was characterized by an elegant line, a high level of comfort and a very accurate interor results of the handcrafted assembly. The Magnum also featured hi-level and luxury accessories, never seen on an off-road vehicle of those years, such as electric windows, air conditioning, alloy wheels, leather interior. The Magnum also made use of components of “recycled” from other cars, like the Fiat Uno tail lights.

Despite the lack of a sales network, the Magnum was realtively sold well. It was also the Italian Police service vehicle with over 1,000 speciments ordered. In the 1990s the Magnum, redesigned in the front and fitted with a 5-liter Ford V8 engine capable of delivering 185 hp, also landed in the U.S. sold with the LaForza brand.

In 1996 the company name changed to “Magnum Industriale” which at the 1998 Turin Auto Show, unveiled the prototypes VAV (“Vehicle of Fast Attack”) and a completely redesigned road version. After two years of negotiations, the company was taken over by Laforza SpA, which, based on the Magnum, produced even more prototypes with three different engines; a 440 HP petrol V8, a 250 HP V6 Alfa Romeo and a 170 HP Iveco TurboDiesel. Once again, the prototypes didn’t reached the production stage due to lack of capitals and soon the company went bankrupt.

In 2004 Alessandro Festa, owner of “Golden Car”, bought all the know-out and all the materials of the the Magnum plant in Cherasco. Sinces Golden Car, in the past, had developed and produced all the equipment which was used to produce the Magnum, it tried to  take over the production with significant improvements.

Since the beginning of its history, the Magnum bodies were produced in Caramagna (CN) by Golden Car itself which, following the acquisition, began to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this vehicle, in oder to create a new version based on its  technological heritage. 

The LaForza Magnum prototype

The first model of this ambitious project was a Magnum prototype fitted with the Alfa Romeo V6 Busso engine and built under the Laforza brand. The LaForza Magnum V6 prototype stood out for its aggressive look of the front with its new head lights.

Photo courtesy of autoruote4x4.com

Inside LaForza Magnum, the materials and confort were in line with the luxury ’85 version. The brightness was excellent thanks to the large glass surfaces and the sunroof. A satellite navigator has been also added to the dashboard. The 250 HP Alfa Romeo V6 did actually a good job regardless its size; acceleration has significantly improved and top speed went from 150 to 190 km/h. Handling was also surprisingly good thanks to the calibration of the suspensions and the considerable track width. Off-road performance remained as reliable as in the first version and allowed to overcome slopes of up to 100% with the reduced gears. This version was upgraded also in the braking system which now adopted ventilated discs also on the rear axle. ABS was also added which could be deactivated for better offroad. 

In 18 years around 6000 Magnums were produced including the American LaForza versions (1200) and the latter updated and assembled by Pininfarina and subsequently supplied directly by Rayton Fissore. After numerous legal events involving the manufacturer and its partners, production officially ended in 2003 with the last bodies assembled by LaForza Automobiles Inc. in the U.S.

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Tribute to Marcello Gandini with the Prototype Unveiled at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show: A Unique Model Exuding Elegance and Personality

From May 24 to 26, the BMW Group Classic and the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este will host the legendary Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. The most spectacular cars from different eras and around the world will compete in various categories to win prestigious awards. Among these are the coveted BMW Group Trophy awarded by the Jury, the traditional Coppa d’Oro based on public votes, the Design Award for concept cars and prototypes, and the special ASI Trophy for the best-preserved post-war vehicle.

The presence of the Automotoclub Storico Italiano (ASI) at this unmissable international event is highlighted by the display of the Citroën GS Camargue prototype from the ASI Bertone Collection. This car enriches the theme dedicated to Marcello Gandini – the recently deceased master of car design – set up in the park of Villa Erba on Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26. Also at Villa Erba, as part of the “Amici & Automobili” event, the ASI-affiliated Veteran Car Club of Como will accompany the Camargue with a precious selection of historical cars from its members.

The Citroën Camargue was first presented at the Bertone stand at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show, where it was met with great enthusiasm from both the public and the press. Built on the innovative Citroën GS platform, which was launched in 1970, the Bertone coupé, styled by Marcello Gandini with the assistance of Marc Deschamps, retains the compact sedan’s layout and dimensions. The car features distinctive front and rear overhangs – the front being much more pronounced to enhance the car’s dynamic look. Lower and wider than the GS, the Camargue boasts a wedge-shaped front typical of Gandini’s style, contrasting with a truncated rear end supporting a broad, panoramic canopy with amber-tinted glass, paired with a chic metallic champagne-colored body. Despite its striking and original design, the Bertone proposal did not reach commercial production due to Citroën’s economic crisis during those years, which led to its merger with Peugeot in 1974.

The format of the Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este includes a double location in Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como. On Saturday, May 25, the exclusive Hotel Villa d’Este’s park will host the display of all competing cars, the jury inspection, voting, parade, and the awarding of the Coppa d’Oro and special prizes. Simultaneously, Villa Erba will host the “Amici & Automobili” meeting with an exhibition of historical cars from clubs and enthusiasts.

On Sunday, May 26, the event will continue at Villa Erba with a festival celebrating automotive passion: all cars in the competition will be displayed in the park until the concluding parade, where the Design Award, class prizes, and honorable mentions will be awarded.