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The automotive industry is in a non-stop state of flux. It expands and contracts on a near-weekly basis, with flurries of startup announcements and wistful goodbyes. So when the new Prodrive Hunter debuted, my mind immediately flashed memories of the now-closed Local Motors and its Rally Fighter.

  • Car: Prodrive Hunter
  • Designer: Ian Callum

Local Motors, an Arizona-based company that first built off-roaders and later switched to autonomous pod vehicles, shut down operations in January. I, and likely many others, will forever know Local Motors for its Rally Fighter, a powerful off-roader that’s somewhat of a mix between a muscle car and a trophy truck. Wild-style looks and impressive capability aside, the Rally Fighter also earned a unique reputation as a crowdsourced vehicle that was honed by the public and was partially built by customers in small shops with guidance from Local Motors employees. Production ended in 2016, and now the company is dead with it.

That’s why the Hunter, pictured above, brought a smile to my face. The Rally Fighter is one of the coolest vehicles I’ve ever seen in person (it was oddly in a random NYC parking lot), because it’s childish and cartoonish in all the best ways. As a practical person with no money for such things, I’d never be able to buy one, but I felt joy knowing it existed and was disappointed to learn of its demise years ago. Now the Hunter is here to imprint new memories.

Several performance-minded off-road specialty vehicles, such as the Laffite X-Road, Bowlers, the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus Boot, the GFG Style Vision 2030 Desert Raid and Kangaroo Concepts, the Marc Philipp Gemballa Marsien, the Ariel Nomad Tactical, the Singer All-Terrain Competition Study, the Lamborghini Huracán Sterrato, and the Gemballa Avalanche 4×4 and Tornado 4×4 have offered various alternatives to varying degrees of reality and availability, but the Hunter is the first one to bring back the same feeling I had looking at the Fighter.

Unlike Local Motors’ status as a startup, Prodrive has been involved in performance building and motorsports since the ’80s when it won its first event, the Qatar International Rally, with a Porsche 911 SC RS on January 27, 1984. The company’s history is heavily rooted in Subaru and Ford teams (among others), but it partnered with the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company in 2020 to build rally vehicles to compete in Dakar. The Hunter is the production evolution of the fruit of that partnership, the Prodrive Bahrain Raid Xtreme (BRX) Hunter T1 and T1+.

Underneath its Ian Callum-designed looks, it packs a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces a claimed 600 brake horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. Even if the Rally Fighter were still around, it couldn’t compete with that. I’m glad there’s a new ridiculous rally hero in town.

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