If you have been to our website before, you would probably agree that a Toyota Camry is a pretty boring car. It’s not a bad car, it is just not terribly exciting. The reason it is boring is because the Camry was designed to meet the need of drivers all over the world.
It has to be good at city driving for commuters.
It has to be good at highway driving for families and road trips.
It has to be good at being a taxi, commercial vehicle, or suburban grocery hauler.
It has to work in freezing cold Michigan winters and brutal Phoenix summers.
It has to be safe and pass crash test standards.
It has to meet vehicle emissions standards.
It has to be aesthetically pleasing.
And it still has to be affordable!
The Camry is a car that’s designed for every type of driving environment. But what if automakers built cars specific to the region where they were to be used? What if car manufacturers built a vehicle for the Pacific Northwest, a different vehicle for the Midwest, and another car for the Deep South?
Well, that is exactly the idea behind Local Motors.
Founded in 2007 by a former US Marine, Local Motors is headquartered in Chandler, Arizona. The company’s flagship product is the Rally Fighter, an off-road car that is community-designed and built right here in America. The Rally Fighter is the first car ever to be licensed under Creative Commons, which means that other people can Share and Remix the car, as long as they provide attribution to its creators and use it for non-commercial purposes.
The Rally Fighter is a car designed specifically for the desert environment. The chassis is a tubular steel space frame design that’s not based on any existing automotive chassis or platform. The body panels are made of fiberglass and were inspired by the look of the P-51 Mustang aircraft. Instead of paint, each vehicles is vinyl-wrapped which the company says is lighter, more customizable, and more environmentally-friendly than paint.
Under the hood, the Rally Fighter uses a 6.2L V8 engine from General Motors that produces 430 horsepower and 424 lb-ft of torque. It is coupled to an automatic transmission that drives a Ford 9″ rear end with 3.55 gears. The car weighs in at around 3,800 lbs and has a top speed of 140 mph.
Of course, the real magic of the car is its suspension setup. The front uses an independent double-A arm setup with Fox Racing remote reservoir shocks that offers 18″ of suspension travel. In the rear, a 4-link suspension and a solid rear axle offer 20″ of travel. It runs on Goodyear MTR kevlar-reinforced tires with beadlock wheels. This thing is built for hauling ass over the roughest desert terrain.
Although it is a beast offroad, the Rally Fighter is still a street legal car. It gets about 16-18 miles per gallon off road and 20-23 mpg on the highway according to the manufacturer. It is also equipped with air conditioning, power windows, and a full-size spare tire.
One interesting thing about the car is that when you buy one, you get to go down to the factory and help build it! This allows the vehicle to be registered as a “component vehicle” or “kit car.” The Rally Fighter is 50-state emissions legal and meets all DOT standards.
The price tag for the Rally Fighter is about $99,000 – certainly not as cheap as building your own 4×4. But if your goal is to have a turn-key vehicle that you can drive to work and to the Baja 1000, the Rally Fighter is the car for you. As of January 2013, the company has delivered about 50 vehicles. The total production run is planned to be 2,000 vehicles.
I like a lot of things about the Rally Fighter. I like that it is built in America using American parts. I like its agressive body design and that it is designed specifically for the desert environment. The fact that it is a Creative Commons licensed design is an unprecedented change in the way automobiles are designed. The whole idea of it is just really, really cool and I feel lucky to have seen this one in person at the Scottsdale Pavilions car show.
What do you think about the Rally Fighter? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below!