Since Rolls Royce is coming out with the Cullinan, we thought this would be the ideal time to go back and look at all the 4 wheel drive, all terrain vehicles Rolls Royce has made over the years.
There aren’t any.
So with that out of the way, we got to thinking: with all these high priced SUVs coming out now you’re spoiled for choice, but if back in the day you wanted a luxurious, super exclusive 4×4, what could you get? Today on AV, we’ll be taking a look at 3 limited production luxury SUVs that, despite not being Rolls Royce levels of fanciness, would still have demanded that a significant dent be put on your bank account in order to get one. Because it would just be too easy and we’ve already talked about it at length over the years, the LM002 – eternal and undisputed king of ridiculously over the top SUVs – will stay off our list.
Let’s start with something a bit more obscure and which just also happens to be one of the coolest things ever to be put on 4 wheels: the Sbarro Windhound. We all know Sbarro; it started in the 1970’s as a replicas business, but it quickly evolved into something else entirely. Not happy with just copying cars, Franco Sbarro’s tiny Swiss company moved on to making the craziest, most bizarre, most impractical designs it could possibly come up with. Not amongst which, was the Windhound. By Sbarro standards, the Windhound is dialed way back when compared to the rest of the company’s line up. Its extremely handsome design is of the period (80’s), but not excessive, bold but tasteful. Even by today’s standards, the Windhound doesn’t look particularly dated.
It was also one of the trailblazers in a whole new category, the luxury SUV, the genesis of which is heatedly disputed between the enthusiast of the Range Rover and the Wagoneer. That discussion aside and looking at the available options in general, most all terrain vehicles of this era weren’t built thinking of comfort, they were made to be rugged and capable. If you got battered and bruised after going for a drive, well it couldn’t really be helped. However, Sbarro realized there had be room for a compromise and as such, although mechanically the Windhound was actually a good ol’ reliable military grade G-Wagon, making it more than capable off road, inside it had big, comfy, soft, fully adjustable leather seats, power equipment and a luxurious would trim finish.
Some were even equipped with Mercedes’ 6.9 V8 which means they could also haul ass and the enormous rear hatch made these practical, usable vehicles and not just statement pieces. You could even get a 4 door version for added practicality. Reportedly 14 Windhounds were made, (at least) one of which with the coolest, silliest mod of all time: exhaust pipes over the car instead of under. Legendary.
While Sbarro was doing its thing in Switzerland, in Italy, Moretti – builder of sports cars and a little bit of everything else with wheels, really – was also giving this luxury 4×4 thing a try. Renowned for putting interesting bodies on uninteresting Fiats, Moretti did the same to the Fiat Campagnola, Italy’s military off roader of choice for nearly 40 years. The “Sporting” (or Moretti-Fiat Campagnola 2000 Sporting 4X4 if you prefer) was made available to the public in 1979; of slightly odd proportions but still extremely attractive, the Sporting looked suspiciously exactly like a Range Rover from the front and had an enormous rear door to make the addition seating in the back (+ 2, bumping up passenger capacity to 7) easily accessible.
Although far less luxurious and powerful (2.5L diesel engine with little over 70hp. Yup, 70) than the Windhound, the Sporting has to be perceived in its native context; Italy’s reality was not Switzerland’s reality by any means, making the Moretti a very interesting and also fairly surprising creation. Still, the not at all surprising part is that very few ended up being made, with sources pointing to between 20 and 30 units completed.
After a short detour, we’re coming back to Switzerland, home of the great Peter Monteverdi. We’ve talked about Monteverdi again and again on this website; his parts bin special creations are a hoot. Sure, the really amazing stuff are the Monteverdi super stylish, achingly beautiful hybrids (European engineering, America power train) like the 375/4, 375 L and 375 S, but there’s something to be said about sprucing up a regular production car and slap a whole new huge price tag on it; it’s a game not everyone could play, but Monteverdi would pull it off. This was the case with the Safari.
Predating the Sporting and the Windhound, the Safari is, at heart, an International Scout. In fact, you could get a cheaper version called the Sahara to which Monteverdi didn’t even bother changing the bodywork. Despite its humble beginnings, the Safari became pretty damn special.
A beautifully clean Fissore design, even more elegant than the Sbarro we mentioned earlier, the Safari didn’t just look great, it had some power as well. You could get the Safari with either a Chrysler 5.2L, an International 5.7 or with Chrysler’s legendary 7.2L 440. When optioned with the 440, the Monteverdi could barely get an mpg in the double digits, but Safari buyers probably wouldn’t care about it all that much. Plus, in a world where torque is king, you’d get a whole damn lot of it. This car is a late 70’s creation and slapping a huge gas guzzling V8 in a European market car…it’s a ballsy move.
Monteverdi ended up making a few Safaris and surprisingly, today when one of these pops up for sale they’re not ridiculously expensive (around 30 grand for a mid range one, 60 for an example in impeccable condition), so if you don’t mind the weight, age, horrible fuel consumption and lack of toys, one of these will definitely make you stand out of the crowd, certainly more so than if you show up driving anything modern of the same segment. And for a true enthusiast, just the fact alone that something like this even exists at all is in itself priceless and more than worth a hassle or two.
Image credits: Windhound – Splendeurs Voluptomécaniques
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