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Buy/Drive/Burn: Very Expensive Luxury SUVs From 1990

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By on August 19, 2019

Our last couple of Buy/Drive/Burn posts covered two different flavors of compact JapaneseSUVs from the 1990s. Today we branch out and review larger, luxury-oriented SUVs hailing from places other than Japan.

Twelve miles per gallon? That’s plenty.

Rayton Fissore Laforza

Our most exotic competitor comes first today. As covered in Rare Rides previously, the Laforza was first available in the United States in 1988. Called Magnum elsewhere, the Laforza was based on the military-spec Iveco VM 90 truck. Manufacturer Rayton Fissore loaded the Magnum with Italian leather and wood paneling, swapping smaller European-spec engines for a familiar 5.0-liter Ford (302) for Americans. The AOD transmission sends power to a selectable four-wheel drive system. It’s expensive and exotic, and you’ll be the only one with a Laforza at the golf club. Have it serviced wherever your maid takes the Sable wagon.

Land Rover Range Rover

The Range Rover was well-developed by 1990, having started production back in 1970. British Leyland planned to introduce the Range Rover to North America at the beginning of its life, but they were too poor. However, that didn’t stop some dealers in Los Angeles from peddling Range Rovers to eager customers in Orange County and Hollywood in the early Eighties. In 1984, Aston Martin started selling them in Connecticut. The Rover Group was back in England getting their act together, and when Lucas fuel injection replaced the old carbs, the Range Rover suddenly became U.S.-compliant. It launched in the spring of 1987, and a year later some 65 Range Rover dealers served American customers. For 1990, the 3.5-liter Rover V8 increased in size to 3.9 liters. The robust Range Rover will get you to and from the horse paddock more than two of the five times you attempt the journey.

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

The elder statesman and traditionalist option brings up the rear of today’s trio. Not known for excessive flash, Kaiser Jeep began production of the Wagoneer in 1963. That company folded into to American Motors in 1971, which improved and added luxury and refinement over time. AMC brought a new Grand Wagoneer to life in 1984. Chrysler took over the reins in 1988, continuing production through 1991. Unlike the other two, the Grand Wagoneer had full-time Quadra-Trac four-wheel drive — no bothering with selectors. Fit and finish increased for the final three years of production, and there was even a standard remote control for keyless entry. The venerable 360 V8 was the only engine available, and wood exterior trim was non-negotiable. The Grand Wagoneer hauls the family with just the right amount of American pretension.

Three big, thirsty luxury trucks from the dawn of the luxury truck era. Which goes home with the Buy?

[Images: seller, seller, seller]

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