Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pink Panther with Bite; CLASSIC CARS with IAN JOHNSON This Week: Land Rover Long Range Desert Patrol Vehicle

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Pink Panther with Bite; CLASSIC CARS with IAN JOHNSON This Week: Land Rover Long Range Desert Patrol Vehicle

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN JOHNSON

IN THE world of 4x4 vehicles there is a Holy Grail. The chances of actually seeing it in its working environment are extremely low. If you did you would probably be in grave danger.

And the chances of driving one are next to impossible.

I'm talking about that warhorse of the SAS, the Land Rover Long Range Desert Patrol Vehicle.

Capable of covering vast distances across the desert and accommodating a team of specialists with all their equipment and armament, these vehicles, known affectionately as Pink Panthers - because of the original pinky beige paint used to make them difficult to spot in their natural environment - are rare outside the regiment's headquarters at Hereford.

But one has slipped through the net and is now back with Land Rover.

It is officially known as a Truck Utility Medium Special Forces, and this one retired from SAS operations in 2005 after seeing service which started in the 1980s, including action in both Gulf Wars.

It is like no other Land Rover, being stripped down with massive roll-over bars, no doors, smoke candle dischargers, the ability to be heavily armed and carrying massive amounts of extra fuel and metal tracks to get out of trouble. It really does look a real scrapper of a vehicle. It is totally original, and when I drove it I felt that it could tell some interesting tales.

Many have mocked-up Land Rovers to make them look the part, but this one, with its worn, sunbaked paint, pen and pencil markings indicating the functions of some dark and mysterious switchgear and that acrid smell of hard work just said it all.

After getting the nod to drive it from Land Rover heritage boss Roger Crathorne, I set off across a country park at a cracking pace, thanks to the pure grunt of it 3.5-litre V8 petrol engine. No diesel here, just pure petrol power for speed. …

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