Local Motors’ Rally Fighter is the open-sourced off-road coupe of your dreams
A few months before this 2011 Rally Fighter rolled out of a Local Motors’ regional micro-factory in Chandler, Arizona, I was fortunate enough to check out the model at a press event. I was duly impressed with the concept car, the innovative business model—which proposed factories scattered abroad the U.S. to reduce shipping costs and promote locally-sourced products—and the free drinks/finger foods, but Local Motors’ internal-combustion core never garnered the financial hype of a modern EV startup.
Over a decade later, Local Motors still exists as a “ground mobility company focused on shaping the future for the better.” Though the fiberglass-bodied, Miata door-handled Rally Fighter now for sale on Bring a Trailer has little correlation to the company’s current trajectory, this oddball off-roader is worth a closer look.
This Rally Fighter sports Local Motors’ touted eco-friendliness by wearing vinyl wrapping in lieu of a conventional painted finish. The black, gray, and red palette calls to mind the A-Team van—it just needs red wheels to complete the look. The long, sleek-ish coupe profile was penned by Sangho Kim, the winner of Local Motors’ crowdsourced design contest. While putting a sporty-looking coupe of this size on an off-road chassis is just begging for second-gen Camaro on truck chassis references, the Rally Fighter still looks great to this day. Even the 2006 Civic Coupe taillights fit into the design’s logical lines with precision.
The integration of various and sundry components is seamless inside: The 2006 Ford F-150 steering wheel I saw 11 years ago did make production, sadly, but the rest of it (Recaro seats, Rockford Fosgate stereo, air conditioning, power windows/locks) gives an air of a reasonably well crafted, bespoke-built off-roader … for those willing to shell out $99,900 for one, back in the early 2010s.
Local Motors may not be an EV startup, but its original press materials went full greenwash-mode when trumpeting its choice of BMW’s M57 “clean diesel” engine for the Rally Fighter. Dirty diesel scandals were still years away, but it’s been said that only one example (chassis #2) had the Bimmer mill.
Every other Rally Fighter got the far-less-aggressively-promoted V-8 option (i.e. General Motor’s LS3), likely because it was powerful, simple, and, crucially, cheaper than a BMW crate motor. No matter, it’s a perfect pairing with Local Motors’ brilliant chassis and Fox dampers.
The tubular goodness continues out back, with a Panhard bar-infused rear suspension mated to Ford’s venerable 8.8-inch axle. (The listing mistakenly refers to it as Ford’s 9-incher.) The rear valence’s dual exhaust cutouts are as purposeful as the LS3’s rumblings that emanate from the pipes. While not the knobbiest of off-road rubber, the Nitto Terra Grapplers mounted on 17-inch wheels definitely fit the bill.
Even after a decade, the Local Motors Rally Fighter still looks cool enough to justify a lofty asking price. The question is, what is a lofty price for the year 2021? With six days remaining on the auction and bids already above 20 grand, the future looks promising for this extremely rare off-roader.