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Old 01-30-2011, 06:25 PM   #1
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Local Motors tour

I had some free time in my break from school and I remembered the numerous times that I have driven from Tucson to Phoenix and have seen the Local Motors factory from the highway. One day I’ll go over. Well, I saw an opening in my schedule and sent them an e-mail. I told them I was just a person interested in their company, and also a photographer. I have been following their company for quite some time, and have been interested in their progress. A day later, I got a very nice e-mail from Ariel inviting me down to their facility, although she stated that a Rally Fighter may not be there (well, one that is fully built). I told her that was alright. I was bummed a little bit, but still curious about the company, so I got my stuff and headed down there.

I drove the 45 minutes from my house and pulled in to their lot. The factory is one large warehouse, surrounded by an abandoned lot, dirt mounds, and a McDonalds. As I was making my way towards the door, I turn and see something in the corner of my eye. Oh hello Rally Fighter. My heart jumps.

By the time I enter, I am twiddling my thumbs and probably looked like a a 12 year old in a candy factory. I meet the secretary, and am told a designer was going to give me a tour. The factory has a very open and colorful feel. One wall was covered with the designs of the Rally Fighter and the different stages it went through. The factory didn’t feel like they built vehicles, it felt like a doctor’s office, with a lot of sweet toys.
After waiting for a few minutes, I was greeted by Nyko, the designer. We talked about how new the factory was, it was completed last April. Nyko explained the company and the designs they work with. For those unfamiliar with the company, Local Motors makes competitions open to anyone (mostly students and graphic designers) to design vehicles, and they get reviewed, and sometimes, like the Rally Fighter, built. Nyko wanted to emphasize that Local Motors does not want to be known just for the Rally Fighter, but a fully encompassed car company. They are currently working on an electric vehicle for city use.

We start moving around the facility. First off, the chassis:

This was going to be a Rally Fighter, but was slightly damaged on the bottom. So now the designers use it to design new covers and get the proper measurements:

I also noticed the plants on the pillars, which I know BMW and Ferrari does as well. Nyko laughed because they were all dead. Apparently with the factory always moving stuff in and out, they left the doors open and nats took over. He said at one point there were thousands of nats all over, he said you couldn’t even walk around. I told him I appreciated the effort, and he said Local Motors was all about trying new things, even if they failed. For instance, in the original design, they wanted to put these offroad segways in the back of the Rally Fighters, but as design went along, they just didn’t fit.

I also arrived a few weeks before the Barrett Jackson Scottsdale auction, and they were going to auction off this Rally Fighter for charity:

These guys (and girl) were installing the LS2 V8 corvette engine. Nyko informed me the guy in the orange works and organizes all the Baja races. Not bad company. They first started with a BMW diesel engine, which Nyko drove, and he stated that it was a solid engine, but it was just too quiet. They understood they were building a rally truck, it had to have SOME noise. I was glad as well, rally trucks are known for being loud and kicking ass, two things I am told the Rally Fighter does quite well.

Here is a design from a student that is based off the Rally Fighter (looking at one from above). It caught my eye, very nice piece.

If you look at the images on the top left, the first image on the left was the original design for the Rally Fighter. Then the stages it went through:

Finally, the Rally Fighter! He apologized for it being dirty, which I quickly said “that’s how it’s supposed to be!” I’m glad they were using it. He told me stories of when they go through the drive thru at McDonalds, and all the strange looks they get. As I said, it has an LS2, with adjustable suspension. To be honest, I thought the asking price was around $80,000. Nyko smiled, shook his head and informed me that it starts at $59,000 and Nyko himself already put down a deposit for one. There is an initial deposit of $5,000 required, and then you go from there. A big part of the Rally Fighter is the individuality. They invite the customers to visit their trucks being made, and even spend time working on it. Also, a large part is the “mods” which can be picked after the truck is made.

I was impressed by the trucks size. It has a high stance, with the sweet adjustable suspension. Nyko informed me that there will be an article in Popular Mechanics in the upcoming months about the truck. He said the author was just here and was testing it vs. a Ford Raptor on a dirt course. The times? Ford Raptor was around 8 hours, and the Rally Fighter did it in half of that. I also mentioned that I had heard they delivered a Rally Fighter to a customer in Boston as a daily driver, and Nyko laughed and said “Yeah, can you imagine this thing on those city streets?”

At the time I was there, they had delivered two already, and were starting to ramp up production. I asked Nyko if he was going to drive his daily to work or just keep it for offroading. Nyko hesistantly stated “I hate to say this, but I don’t really offroad. I love the V8 though, and am going to drive it all over the street, just lower the suspension and blast it off the stop lights”. With an LS2 V8 and weighing in around 3200 pounds, this thing will definitely haul ass. I would love to drop the hammer on this thing. We talked more about the truck, and Nyko wanted to get his hands on one since they would only be in limited production (I want to say it was 2000 units, but I’m not 100% sure on that). I took my shots and went back inside. I told him what I thought about the company, and how I was glad to see they were going places, and wished them luck. He invited me to an event the next week showing off the Rally Fighter, but I had to decline because I would be back at college at that time. I thanked Nyko, and walked out. Walking to my car, I had to look over my shoulder and see that truck one more time. Damn, that thing is mean looking.

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Old 01-30-2011, 11:00 PM   #2
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Great write up and pics! I always wondered what was in that building when I passed by on I-10.
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Old 01-30-2011, 11:28 PM   #3
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I just spent 2 hours on youtube watching the Rally Fighter since this thread. Bad a$$ man, I lived in Tuc for 6 years and traveled to Phx weekly and can't remember that building. Viva Pancho Villa
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Old 01-31-2011, 05:42 PM   #4
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It's about time you posted these up. That is so cool they did all that for you. It sounds like a really cool company taking the time to show you around.

Dude I would so love to rip through town in one of those.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:06 PM   #5
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That's awesome Ryan! I've seen there building a number of times when in the Chandler area and always wanted to get up close. Very cool pictures as well.

What camera are you using now?
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:10 PM   #6
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Thanks guys! Yeah the building is fairly new, it was built in April. They are an awesome company, very down to earth. You can see in interviews on Youtube that the CEO is fairly young, and seems like an all around good guy.

James, I am using a Canon 20D, and that was with the stock lens. The last 3 images I put through Photoshop
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:14 PM   #7
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Nice Post!
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Old 02-13-2011, 08:49 AM   #8
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The roll cage in that thing is insane. i used to race out at Tucson raceway Park and I thought I had a strong roll cage. Very cool.
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