Camel Trophy Vehicles

Only the first and final Camel Trophy events didn't rely entirely on vehicles supplied by Land Rover. Land Rover's involvement with Camel Trophy lasted for eighteen years from 1981 to 1998. Throughout the life of Camel Trophy, the complete Land Rover vehicle range was used. Range Rover, Series III, Ninety, One Ten, 127, Defender, Discovery and Freelander vehicles all appeared in the distinctive "sandglow" yellow colour scheme.

Camel Trophy vehicles were produced in both left-hand and right-hand drive, depending on the vehicle's role, the event location and the country driving it. Camel Trophy vehicles are standard production-line Land Rovers, adapted and prepared by Land Rover’s Special Vehicles division to compete in what was arguably the world’s toughest off-road event.

Although Camel Trophy designs are often copied by enthusiasts producing tribute or replica vehicles, known affectionately as "Shamels", it is usually possible to distinguish a genuine ex-Camel Trophy Land Rover. The easiest way is not to rely on the vehicle's paint scheme (some, very rare vehicles were produced in blue, red or silver for the 1998 prescout) but to look for unique and difficult to reproduce features. A genuine ex-Camel Trophy Defender will have been fitted with a unique internal/external roll cage and the Discovery roof rack bolts through the roof onto the roll cage, for example. It is rare for a non-Camel Trophy Freelander to be fitted with a roll cage at all!

The V5 logbook sometimes has "N/A" or "Not Stated" in the "Colour" box, which is unusual. It can also have "Yellow", "Gold", "Brown" or the rather unflattering "Beige". A batch of Freelanders was misregistered on their V5s as Land Rover 90s. Since 1990, all Camel Trophy vehicles were registered by Land Rover UK at their factory in Solihull, and are therefore registered with Birmingham-area registrations such as:

  • AB e.g. R--- HAB (Tierra del Fuego)
  • AC e.g. G--- WAC (Himalaya prescout, Siberia press launch & training), K--- BAC (Sabah-Malaysia), L--- VAC (Argentina Paraguay Chile)
  • DU e.g. N---VDU (Kalimantan), R--- CDU (Tierra del Fuego)
  • KV e.g. K--- YKV (Sabah-Malaysia)
  • ON e.g. H--- LON (Tanzania)
  • OP e.g. J--- ROP (Guyana)
  • RW e.g. H--- JRW (Tanzania)
  • VC e.g. M---HVC (Mudo Maya), N--- PVC (Kalimantan)
  • XP (Tax-free, for eXPort - rarely seen on vehicles reimported to the UK but sometimes seen on the vehicles in Camel Trophy videos)

This list is not exhaustive as there are other suffixes but this covers the most common.

There are a few of the original Range Rover vehicles remaining in the hands of collectors. They are very rare and may be considered priceless. The archetypal Camel Trophy vehicles were Defender and Discovery, which is reflected by the number owned by club members.

The Ninety/One Ten/Defender range was first used in 1984, right up until the last Land Rover-sponsored event in 1998. They continued to be used by the organisers as support vehicles for the final Camel Trophy 2000.

Discovery was first used on Camel Trophy from 1990, in the 3-door 200 Tdi form, right up to 1997 when the 5-door 300 Tdi vehicles were used for the Mongolia 1997 event and the Tierra del Fuego pre-scout.

Another very popular vehicle with club members is the Freelander, which was used on just one event, Tierra Del Fuego 1998 in South America. Only used on one event, they are among the scarcest of Camel Trophy vehicles. Of all Camel Trophy Land Rovers produced, the "last of a breed" Freelanders should be the most sought after model. Land Rover's baby is the last Camel Trophy model ever produced and arguably the most striking visually. Their relatively small numbers also mean that they are guaranteed to become a future classic.

  • One prototype vehicle used on pre-scout (registration number: L649 ERU). Originally painted silver, changed to Sandglow for International Selections. Whereabouts unknown, possibly crushed.
  • Nine produced for International Selections in Sweden (registration numbers: R --- BAC and R ---YON). BAC vehicles used by Land Rover Experience. YON vehicles used by GEM management in UK. All vehicles sold to individuals or dealers.
  • 27 produced for Camel Trophy event (various registration numbers, but mostly: R --- CDU). Twenty team vehicles, six management vehicles and one display. Two damaged in transport after the event. Others sold to individuals and companies.

Perhaps the most interesting ex-Camel Trophy vehicles are the Ribtec boats from Tonga-Samoa 2000. These are increasingly changing hands on the market and are fascinating talking pieces. Their true value is seen when they are allowed to perform in their natural environment, the open sea!

Interested in owning a ex-Camel Trophy vehicle?

Follow this link to ex-Camel Trophy vehicles for sale. For advice and help acquiring, restoring or operating an ex-Camel Trophy vehicle or producing a replica, you can join Camel Trophy Club to benefit from a huge amount of knowledge and years of combined experience!