The Esarco all-terrain vehicle had eight driven wheels and a counter-steering back axle
The SAS’s 109” Series IIA was equipped so a three man crew could patrol for up to six weeks. Photo credit: The Dunsfold Collection
The Pink Panther was painted for desert camouflage, particularly effective during dawn and dusk. Photo credit: The Dunsfold Collection
The military has used the Land Rover since the 1940s when a trial batch was ordered alongside the Austin Champ. Photo credit: The Dunsfold Collection
Roadless Traction developed a version of the Forest Rover with tractor tyres, sold from 1961
The front had to be modified with a 14in wider track so the wheels would clear the body
31 models of the 101 Forward Control were bought and heavily modified for the 1995 Silvester Stallone film Judge Dredd
After filming most of the cars were sold off but a few were road-registered while looking like this
Film makers selected a Land Rover designer’s concept rather than their own for the appearance
It was initially designed to tow field guns, but they also made good ambulances and radio vehicles
A few months ago, just before customers could no longer order a brand new Land Rover Defender, the brochure for the off-road icon featured 13 different models.
Okay, that’s not very many by, say, the standards of a BMW 3 Series. But consider this: every single model had the same engine and gearbox. The only differences between any of them were body style.
Short, long, longer; car, van, pick-up or exposed chassis. There’s nothing else quite like the Defender or the Series Land Rovers that came before it.
But, sometimes, even 13 different bodies don’t give you what you need. The Land Rover, as a specialist vehicle, has few peers. Don’t find what you want? Land Rover, with the right persuasion, will probably build you one. Still don’t find what you want? Specialist manufacturers will be able to modify one for you. Like these:
SAS Series II ‘Pink Panther’
The military have liked the Land Rover ever since the British Army placed an order for a trial batch alongside the Austin Champ in the late 1940s. By 1956 the Champ was out of production and the Land Rover was filling the army’s needs.
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.