In addition to ‘ordinary’ Land Rovers, armies have ordered ambulances, added halftracks, asked for a lightweight air-transportable vehicle and put the controls ahead of the front wheels.
Few, though, have been put anywhere as inhospitable as the SAS’s 109” Series IIA models, unusually painted for desert camouflage (particularly effective during dawn and dusk, apparently) and dubbed ‘Pink Panthers’.
Equipped so a three man crew could patrol for up to six weeks (with the odd air resupply), Pink Panthers could carry 100 gallons of fuel, had better cooling, quick-release jerry cans, uprated chassis. As late as the 1990s, Land Rover was developing and exporting new special operations vehicles, when the US Rangers discovered its Hummer 4x4s were too wide for Kosovo streets.
101 Forward Control, from ‘Judge Dredd’
The 101 ‘Forward Control’ was made from 1972. Initially designed to tow field guns, they made good ambulances, radio vehicles and, today, are pretty cool campers, too.
None are so unusual though as the 31 cars bought and heavily modified for the 1995 Silvester Stallone film Judge Dredd, which reckoned Land Rover would be the future’s only surviving carmaker (a situation JLR wouldn’t be too unhappy about).
Film makers selected a Land Rover designer’s concept rather than their own for the appearance, and after filming most of the cars were sold off, some reverting to 101 specification but a few, lightly modified, were road-registered while looking like this.
Land Rover-based, rather than Land Rover-produced, the Esarco all-terrain vehicle had eight driven wheels and a counter-steering back axle for greater manoeuvrability.
Sadly, even though the rights to it were picked up by both American and UK companies, neither could sustain it commercially, either for military or utility use.
Roadless Traction ‘Forest Rover’
The idea for the ‘Forest Rover’, developed and made by a company called Roadless Traction, was pretty simple. The Forestry Commission was finding that its regular Land Rovers were getting stuck. So Roadless developed a version with tractor tyres, sold from 1961.
Obviously the engineering isn’t that simple. The front had to be modified with a 14in wider track so the wheels would clear the body, and although the standard engine and gearbox was retained, new axles with reduction gears brought the speeds right down.
That it was wider meant it could traverse side slopes well, and the height gave it terrific wading depth. Roadless made around 20.