If you asked us to describe what Local Motors’ Rally Fighter was, we’d have a hard time filling in the blanks after the phrase “a coupe.” While it’s designed primarily for off-road fun, it’s still plenty capable on road, and it can be licensed in all 50 of the United States.
The P-51 Mustang-influenced Rally Fighter also has the distinction of being the first “crowdsourced” automobile, designed by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. As Local Motors’ CEO Jay Rogers explains, the idea was to create a high-performance vehicle that owners could still spin wrenches on, as opposed to returning to the dealership for every bit of service and repair.
Rogers’ passion for things with wheels and engines was, perhaps, inherited from his grandfather, who owned Indian Motorcycles for 14 years. While the idea of building a car based on input from fans who may or may not know anything about engineering may seem odd, this much is clear: the Rally Fighter defines both “stout ” and “well sorted.”
The car’s fiberglass body, windshield, chassis and suspension components are unique to the Rally Fighter, but many items (such as the drivetrain) come from major automakers. Power comes from a GM V-8 engine, which ultimately gets to the ground through a nine-inch Ford rear end.
Though designed to stand up to off-road competition, the Rally Fighter includes amenities like air conditioning and power windows. Local Motors gets around the issue of DOT requirements (like advanced airbags and electronic stability control) by involving buyers in the assembly process.
Like an experimental aircraft, the Rally Fighter is a homebuilt car, which exempts Local Motors from many of the (expensive) regulations that plague other automakers. It may lack things like anti-lock brakes and advanced airbags, but we’ll take a stout roll cage and a five-point harness over airbags any day.
At $99,000, the Rally Fighter isn’t inexpensive, but it certainly is unique and it fills a niche left empty by more mainstream automakers. Rogers says that some fifty have been delivered so far, which means the Rally Fighter is well beyond the experimental stage.
More vehicles are planned, and we hope that Local Motors turns its attention to the sports car world next. We don’t do that much off-roading, but we’d certainly stand in line for our chance to drive a crowdsourced track day car.