Quick Look: Local Motors Rally Fighter

//Quick Look: Local Motors Rally Fighter

Quick Look: Local Motors Rally Fighter

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You may have read about the Rally Fighter before or you may have seen it on TopGearUS. Now read about it again, but with a more hands-on approach. Also check out the gallery. -KK
Pretend you are five years old again, not a stretch for some of us, and imagine your perfect little fantasy car: no worries about economy, costs, reliability – just your car, just for you. That is pretty much the idea behind Local Motors’ first vehicle, the Rally Fighter. The Rally Fighter is exactly that, one man’s interpretation of his dream, a vehicle capable of racing through the desert and with enough power to embarrass many sport cars.

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Driving around town, the Rally Fighter get looks from everyone, even with its suspension at the lowest setting, as seen in these pictures. With the suspension in its raised position the Rally Fighter stands almost six feet tall and is impossible to miss. People take pictures, smile, wave, and the few brave ones attempt to ask and comprehend exactly the hell this is. “This is the Rally Fighter from Local Motors, a new American car company” is the well sorted answer given by John Domolky, owner of this Rally Fighter number 003 and an early investor in the company.
Rally Fighter is a two-door hardtop coupe with two-plus-two seating arrangement. Power comes from a 430horsepower GM LS3 small block which sends it to the rear wheels via a four-speed automatic transmission and a big Ford differential. The suspension setup is a rather elaborate one and, frankly, I lack the knowledge to properly explain it. All you need to know is that it has two ride height settings with almost twenty inches of travel in the raised mode.
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Its bones are of steel tubes arranged into a space frame (please click the link, this term is often thrown around by automotive types who don’t know means) and wrapped in a fiberglass body with carbon-fiber nose, rear, and floor pans. Several parts have been borrowed from other vehicles, such as Civic taillights and NA Miata door handles; it’s perfectly fine as it reduces costs and development time.
Hopping into the Rally Fighter is easier than it seems, but that first step is a duesey. Forward and side visibility is great, rearwards not so much. The spacious interior is all about function which also gives it a rarely seen sense of simplicity. Analog gauges, three small knobs for HVAC, and a row of toggle switches are all there is to the dashboard. The dash-mounted iPad takes care of the audio and navigational duties, sending its output through Rockford Fosgate speakers.
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The combination of approximately 3800lbs and 430horsepower gives Rally Fighter similar horsepower-to-weight ratio to the Camaro SS. Despite the trick suspension, which is rather softly sprung, and off-road tires, the RF felt composed and downright comfortable around town. Select the proper seat (comfort of your butt is very subjective) and there is no reason why the Rally Fighter couldn’t be a daily driver.
The original price for the Rally Fighter was supposed be in the fifties and the engine was suppose to be a BMW diesel. Unfortunately reality had a different idea. Between Uncle Sam and suppliers the price of the 2012 Rally Fighter went up to $75,000. Each Rally Fighter is made to order and partially assembled by the buyer (following a training class) in a micro-factory in Arizona. There is no paint; instead you choose a vinyl wrap. Your choices, however, are not limited to colors and accessories as Local Motors encourages personalization and modifications.
At a time when cars are becoming much like cheap boutique watches, designed to remain desirable for a term of a lease, Local Motors is brining something extraordinary – a limited quantity hand-assembled timepiece designed to last a lifetime. It is a model of simplicity with no expiration date. Years from now the Rally Fighter will be as relevant as it is today, a timeless expression of one man’s fantasy. Start dreaming.
Big thanks to Sunil Bonam for the photography. Check out his website, 99reels.com.

By |2011-10-05T12:00:10+00:00October 5th, 2011|In General|71 Comments

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  1. Van Sarockin October 5, 2011 at 12:18 pm - Reply

    Nice choice of location for photos. Too bad that green bridge burnt two weeks ago. Car looks right at home in urban grit.

  2. yellofury October 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    I know its a 2 plus 2 arrangement but recently one of the owners of Local Motors went on a roadtip with his wife and kids
    with 2 kids in the rear seats and a toddler in a specially designed car seat.
    I always thought these are cool. I just wonder about reliability in the long term

    • Nick October 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm - Reply

      We use the gmperformanceparts e-rod which comes with a factory warrante, and can be worked on at ant GM dealer. Same for the GM tranny, ford rear axle, radiator, ac compressor, etc etc.. all drivetrain parts all are made from off the shelf components, so you can get parts at your local dealer or parts store.

  3. Scandinavian Flick October 5, 2011 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    The more I learn about this vehicle, the more I want it. It really is an amazing combination of so many things I, as a gearhead, love and enjoy. Even the buying/building experience sounds like fun. The only thing I would wish for is a manual transmission, but otherwise…

    • Kamil_K October 5, 2011 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      LM is very open to customization. One of the RF owners is converting his to a 4×4, which is something that I would do too.
      I am sure that a manual transmission wouldn't be difficult to swap, I would just question a need for one.

      • Scandinavian Flick October 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm - Reply

        Is the 4WD conversion something that LM does, or would it be a custom job? I would be wary of the extra weight that it would add, but it's definitely nice to know it can be done. Depending on how you plan to use the car, it would be a really nice feature. I seriously respect a company that lets you customize things to your own desires.
        The manual transmission is more of a personal preference than a need. All 3 of my cars are available with an automatic, but I wanted the manual, so the only one that is an automatic is getting swapped. For the RF, I'm sure a T56 would bolt right up, and would look and feel great with a set of Tilton pedals:
        <img src="http://super-se7en.com/images/wordpress/uploads/2010/01/tilton-pedal-box1.jpg"&gt;

        • Kamil_K October 5, 2011 at 1:32 pm - Reply

          I don't know if LM does it or if it's something that the owner does on his own, but will find out for you.
          T56 would probably be a great fit.

          • Scandinavian Flick October 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm

            Thanks! It would definitely be interesting to know exactly how custom you can go with it.

        • Giovani October 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm - Reply

          Converting to 4WD is more than possible-LM could do it, but because of the build schedule, you would be paying for it. One of the owners is doing this on his own, but LM isn't leaving him in the dust. All data on the RF is made available to the public, so mods are easier than if you wanted to do the same with a new vehicle from a bigger company. LM will work with you on any questions or projects you have going. For example, the iPad mount was an idea introduced by a customer…

          • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 4:22 pm

            I think more than just the iPad was suggested by customers…

    • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 1:21 pm - Reply

      I want it so bad it hurts. Especially a diesel one.

      • Scandinavian Flick October 5, 2011 at 1:39 pm - Reply

        I dunno… The LS3 already has a butt ton of torque, and the sound is pure vehicular ecstasy. What would be the benefit of a diesel over the LS3?

        • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm - Reply
          • Scandinavian Flick October 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

            More than 424? Are you mad, man!? Literally buckets or torques???
            Eh, I'll take the slight torque hit for more higher reviness and likely more horsepowers…

          • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 2:03 pm


          • Scandinavian Flick October 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

            I love you, man.
            No homo…

          • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 3:16 pm

            Sorry for the delay in response, the medics said I was foaming at the mouth and going on about "torques". The priest arrived a few minutes ago but he looks a tad scared.

          • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

            The other reason is fuel economy. If F250s can get near 30 mpg then a svelte 3900 pounder can probably do better.

          • JeepJeff October 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

            pj, you sound like the little Devil Me that sits on my left shoulder when I drive my Jeep.

          • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm

            It's the part of me that misses my xj.

          • JeepyJayhawk October 5, 2011 at 6:37 pm

            Torque, economy, and the ability to burn corn whisky

  4. muthalovin October 5, 2011 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Genius idea of vinyl wrap over paint.
    I need to see this race a Raptor across a desert before I can decide if I like it or not.

  5. Kamil_K October 5, 2011 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    There really isn't much to go wrong and if it does, it's easy to fix.

  6. pj134 October 5, 2011 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    Note to self: Despite urges, don't sell your organs

  7. BlackIce_GTS October 5, 2011 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    I thought the BMW Diesel was a more interesting choice, but the car is probably better off with an LS.
    Let's play Spot the Parts Bin: I see an F150 steering wheel and I think those might be Challenger mirrors.

    • Kamil_K October 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Fail! F-250HD/F-350 steering rack. 😛
      I forgot what the mirrors are off of.

      • Giovani October 5, 2011 at 1:45 pm - Reply

        Challenger mirrors, Mazda Miata door handles, Mercedes Bumpers, Honda Civic Taillights, Ford 250/350 brakes. Don't forget the Corvette engine and tranny!

      • BlackIce_GTS October 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm - Reply

        Wheel, not rack.
        <img src="http://www.iwsti.com/images/racecar/f150-interior-2.jpg&quot; width=500>
        I wouldn't pretend to be able to identify a steering rack.

        • Giovani October 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm - Reply

          Actually all the steering can be sourced to Ford. Appreciate the attention to detail though!

          • Nick October 5, 2011 at 3:56 pm

            just the steering column man, the rack, pump, resi is all howe, and the tie rods are all heims in double shear at the rack (same steering as a good prerunner or trophy truck)
            we use some modified ford spindles, with a large uniball in double shear at the bottom at a non stock location.

        • Kamil_K October 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm - Reply

          I lose 🙁

    • engineerd October 5, 2011 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      The Ford steering wheel always makes me chuckle.
      It makes sense, though. Rather than making every single component, sourcing parts bin components from the Big 3 probably brings down costs tremendously. In the end, does it really matter that you can tell there should be a blue oval in the wheel or not?

      • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm - Reply

        (Honda too (as well as many other (but the Honda one is glaring)))

        • engineerd October 5, 2011 at 3:26 pm - Reply

          It is a bright spot.

          • Thrashy October 5, 2011 at 4:04 pm

            Only if you consider the Accord to the a bright spot in Honda's lineup.

          • Nick October 5, 2011 at 5:18 pm

            Actually they are off the civic coupe.
            We just replaced the boss's tail-lights with a new LED aftermarket one, they look pretty cool and not too Honda since the reverse light is in a different location.
            Just goes to show you can customize the car with whatever you like, since there's already a good aftermarket for the parts the rally-fighter is made out of.

          • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm

            I'm not a fan of Hondas. That part makes me see red.

  8. spatula6554 October 5, 2011 at 2:06 pm - Reply

    Parts bin sourcing is a great idea….most of those items are items that will inevitably break; since the Big 3 are using them, they will be easier to replace in the future without going back to LM.
    4×4 with a turbocharged Duramax diesel…(allows easier and less expensive sourcing of parts compared to a BMW diesel).
    I also noticed the body of the RF; it is pretty sleek and sexy. If that was on a true touring chassis, with a racing powertrain it could make a good impression on a track.

    • P161911 October 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      I wonder how the Duramx compares weight wise to the BMW diesel or the LS motor. I believe that truck diesels are a rather hefty chuck of iron.

  9. Devin October 5, 2011 at 2:34 pm - Reply

    I like how open they are to custom work, since I keep thinking if I bought one I'd sub out the steering wheel for something a bit less industrial, and scrap the iPad for something a bit more simple and a lot less Apple.

    • Nick October 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm - Reply

      The I pad mount was custom for that particular vehicle. We offered them with a marine amplifier with a simple volume control and headphone input so you could plug in whatever device you own.

      • Devin October 5, 2011 at 5:26 pm - Reply

        That sounds like the perfect setup, though I suppose I can't actually afford one. But if I did!

  10. buddy October 5, 2011 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Buddy here, a builder/trainer at Local Motors,
    I had a customer who has all duramax diesels in his business fleet and he wanted one in a Rally Fighter as well mostly for the torque. That was until he went for a drive through the streets of Hollywood and felt the torque of the LS-3 packaged in a space framed 3,850 lb car. Now he has ordered two cars with the LS-3 for 2012 and is tabling the duramax engine swap for a while.

    • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm - Reply

      Buddy, the question we would all, and I mean all, like answered is why don't I have a job there yet?

    • P161911 October 5, 2011 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      Any idea how much more the Duramax weighs vs. the LS engine?

  11. facelvega October 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    I like the idea of local motors, I like the design and engineering crowdsourcing concept to a degree, I like the parts bin approach if it keeps to good parts. But I don't really want a giant dune racer– I wish they'd hurry up with another model. How about a trike kit to beat the new morgan? That should be easy enough. A work truck that doesn't have body-color or chromed plastic bumpers and shiny weak bits all over it. That would be popular, though maybe not at $75k, and the extreme customizability would be an even bigger asset for that.

    • Thrashy October 5, 2011 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      We could always take Tanshanomi's Cyrobuka and work it over, then submit the result to LM.

      • Nick October 5, 2011 at 5:24 pm - Reply

        You may want to check out the tandem car project on Local Forge. Pieced together for under 10K and 40+mpg

      • JeepyJayhawk October 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm - Reply

        This is an evil, and awesome idea.

        • Thrashy October 5, 2011 at 7:00 pm - Reply

          My original idea was to build one in the basement and then just leave it in his driveway in the middle of the night.

          • JeepyJayhawk October 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm

            Leave it in his driveway after doing a burnout you mean…

  12. Rust-MyEnemy October 5, 2011 at 4:25 pm - Reply

    Too bad I can't afford the $75k admission fee. Never mind.
    I guess a Suzuki X-90 is the next best thing.

    • pj134 October 5, 2011 at 5:25 pm - Reply

      I feel ya. Jeep MJ for me though.

  13. Lotte October 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm - Reply

    Man, if my local Dodge dealership did this sort of "build your own " thing with Challengers and Chargers I'd be the happiest pig in poo (never mind I that I can't afford anything like that yet). Fantastic, fantastic idea that, more importantly, actually made it to reality. I look forward to their upcoming products.

    • nurikxix October 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      I'd settle for bringing the Viper back, but yes. A pick your parts custom Dodge dealership would be amazing; especially if you could order parts from other manufacturers. A W16 Challenger anyone?

      • JeepyJayhawk October 5, 2011 at 6:41 pm - Reply


        • nurikxix October 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm - Reply

          They say that, but I find it hard to believe considering there hasn't even been a concept for the new viper. Unfortunately that leads me to believe that it'll either end up delayed or cancelled.

          • Devin October 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm

            That's jumping to conclusions a bit, especially since it's apparently been shown to dealers already. It's probably better if Chrysler doesn't tease like they're a drunk chick at the bar, put it out at Detroit and then on the market a few months later and it's a much better idea.

          • nurikxix October 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

            True, I just suppose it's my own paranoia over the recent slew of performance cars that have been killed. I still wish there was something. This lack of information, buzz or any sort of speculation has me wary.

          • JeepyJayhawk October 5, 2011 at 7:06 pm

            Trust me.

  14. JeepyJayhawk October 5, 2011 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    You say "win the lottery and buy a Lambo/Ferrari/Merc" I say "Win the lottery, and buy this." Best. Commuter. EVER.

  15. smokyburnout October 5, 2011 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    Dash-mounted iPad and dash-mounted fire extinguisher, on the same dashboard. Awesome!

  16. MayyC October 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    This is so totally batsh!t insane. yet I want this. It seems like such a neat way to buy/build a customizable vehicle. I do believe there is a resurgence in boutique vehicles in the States. ( F.F.R .to name one). The Rally Fighter seems to have the components down (in terms of sourcing/reliability) and the owner assisted build is very appealing.

  17. CptSevere October 5, 2011 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    I've lusted after these on their website in the past (I really like the one with the Teddy Roosevelt graphics), and I absolutely love the idea of having one of these. Small block Chevy as opposed to a BMW diesel? Sure, sign me up. How about a Cadillac Northstar V8, for the weirdness factor? I bet you could do that, too. Yeah, four wheel drive, as well. This is a great concept, and I would kill to have one of these. Any Hoon would, I'll bet.

  18. nick ricci October 5, 2011 at 11:05 pm - Reply

    You guys think you want one now? Get them to take a jump in the car riding shotgun! You will be smitten, TRUST ME I know.

  19. SSurfer321 October 6, 2011 at 5:32 am - Reply

    DO WANT!

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