Trucks & SUVs

Local Motors’ Rally Fighter Is Open-Source Off-Road Awesome

Even looking past the upcoming SCG 008 Baja Buggy, there’s no shortage of high-speed off-road vehicles on sale today. However, that wasn’t always the case. True, rock-crawlers like the Wrangler and 4Runner have been around for years. But before the first Ford F-150 Raptor, no company really offered a heavy-duty Baja-ready dune jumper from the factory. That is, apart from Local Motors and its Rally Fighter.

The Local Motors Rally Fighter was an off-road SUV designed by the Internet

A gray-and-red 2011 Local Motors Rally Fighter with a roof-mounted basket in a field
2011 Local Motors Rally Fighter | Bring a Trailer

The Rally Fighter has a bit of an odd history, as does Local Motors itself. Back in 2007, the then-new company reached out to the world to help design a vehicle, MotorTrend explains. And once the design was finalized by online voting, Local Motors would build it in one of its so-called ‘micro-factories,’ Car and Driver explains. The result of all this was the 2010 Rally Fighter.

Technically, the Local Motors Rally Fighter is an SUV. But due to the ‘open-source’ nature of its design, not all of its parts come from SUVs. The door handles, for example, are from a contemporary NC Miata, Gear Patrol reports. Plus, while the steering column is from a Ford F-150, the mirrors come from a Challenger. And then there’s the powertrain.

Initially, Local Motors planned to use a BMW-sourced 3.0-liter turbodiesel engine for the Rally Fighter. In this form, the SUV made 265 hp and 425 lb-ft, Car and Driver reports. However, it seems only one example is actually diesel-powered, Hagerty reports.

In its place, the vast majority of Rally Fighters have a GM-sourced V8. Specifically, a tweaked version of the Corvette’s 6.2-liter V8, Autoblog reports. In the Rally Fighter, it makes 430 hp and 424 lb-ft sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic. That’s enough to get the roughly-3900-lb SUV from 0-60 mph in a claimed six seconds, CarBuzz reports.

A black 2021 Ram 1500 TRX jumping through the air above a gravel road
2021 Ram 1500 TRX | Ram

At first, that doesn’t seem terribly fast. Especially since the 6350-lb 2021 Ram 1500 TRX does the deed roughly two seconds faster. However, the TRX also has almost 280 more horsepower. And the Rally Fighter has the equipment to go that fast basically anywhere.

It’s a riot to drive on- and off-road

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While the Local Motors Rally Fighter is an SUV, it’s not a body-on-frame one. Instead, it’s built around a tubular steel space frame just like a Baja racer, Road & Track reports. And while the engine is from GM, the Rally Fighter’s solid rear axle comes from Ford. As do its manually-adjustable Fox shocks, which feature 18.1” of front travel and 20.1” of rear travel, Top Gear reports.

Being 16’ long and 6’ wide, the Rally Fighter isn’t exactly small, Roadshow reports. But thanks to its V8 and suspension, it blitzes through off-road trails, Popular Mechanics reports. On the road there is some body roll, which is to be expected, Autoblog reports. But once you get it off-pavement, it simply eats up obstacles and lets you power-slide as you please. And the ventilated four-wheel disc brakes slow you down quickly, Auto123 reports.

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That’s likely why Fast and Furious 8 featured a Rally Fighter. And why the SUVs have competed in several rally races, including Baja and the Gumball Rally.

Speaking of the road, the Rally Fighter is a 50-state street-legal vehicle. And it rides surprisingly well, given that it comes with chunky off-road tires, Jalopnik reports. Plus, it offers sport seats with space for up to five people, along with features like A/C, leather upholstery, power windows, and a stereo system, Bonhams reports. Local Motors also offered features like a backup camera, side-view cameras, LED light bars, a roll cage, and extra skid plates, Bring a Trailer reports.

How much does a Local Motors Rally Fighter cost today?

We say ‘offered’ because Local Motors no longer makes the Rally Fighter. Although the company itself still exists, it now focuses on developing autonomous vehicles. And one of the Local Motors co-founders, Mark Smith, now works as part of Smyth Performance, turning cars into utes.

The front interior of a 2012 Local Motors Rally Fighter with optional leather seats and audio system
2012 Local Motors Rally Fighter interior | Mecum

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However, Rally Fighters do occasionally come up for sale at auctions. And at least one company, California-based Anytime Auto Works, still services and rebuilds them. Average sale prices are difficult to come by, given the SUV’s low production numbers. But a well-kept 2011 model recently sold on BaT for $55,001. That’s a considerable savings from the original $99,900 MSRP.

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