The Land-Rover which passed John Britten’s Peugeot on M3 (Letters: May 1977) was neither secret nor even very new.
The Army put out a requirement for a vehicle to tow their (then – not now) secret 105 m.m. Light Gun, and Rover’s contender for the job was shown at the Commercial Show in 1972. They won the contract against a strong challenge from Volvo, and first deliveries were made at the beginning of 1975.
Production of this, the “101 in.” Land-Rover, is reserved for the British forces, and it doesn’t look as if any will be sold off until at least the mid-1980s.
The 101 in. machine looks impressive, and is fast, but it isn’t as close to the Range Rover as one might think. It uses the same 3 1/2-litre V8 engine and four-wheel-drive transmission, but the chassis frame and axles are different, and normal HARD leaf springs are used.
John Britten will have seen that it is forward control, and from personal driving experience I can tell him that the cab is cramped, the trim almost non-existent, and the ride and handling best described as being “good for the liver”.
Incidentally, this forward control device has absolutely nothing in common with the civilian forward-control Land-Rovers sold between 1962 and 1972, so don’t buy an old one to attempt a conversion!
Finally, if I might slip in a minor commercial, details and pictures are all in my book, The Land-Rover, which was published last year by David & Charles.
Brampton, Cumbria. A. A. G. Robson