Camel Trophy preparations
Joint American-Canadian Team Take on New Trucks In the Camel Trophy
Everyone in the sporting world has heard of the Camel Trophy - a grueling mix of wilderness skills, driving skills, orienteering and just plain survival with Land-Rover Discovery 4 by 4s as the mount of choice. Well, there's a new (or should I say old?) twist this year - a team traveling the Camel Trophy course in a Land-Rover Series I 80" car! The two-man team, TimeWarp Overland, one from Ottawa, Canada and the other from New England,were challenged by a correspondent on the Land-Rover Internet mailing list to make the trip, to prove the capabilities of the older Land-Rover Series vehicles vs. the new Discoveries used by the other competitors.
While talking with TimeWarp Overland team members Dixon Kenner and Al Richer, I am struck at the amount of preparation and dedication they've put into the trip. As Dixon Kenner said, "The Land-Rover has a proud heritage, which many buyers of the more refined Discovery and Range Rovers either sneer at as hopelessly primitive or simply discount as ancient history. Alan and I are going to prove that the Land-Rover spirit was just as versatile and capable then as it is now, perhaps even more so".
Originally conceived as a "Farmer's Friend" in the years after World War II, the Series I that Dixon and Alan will be driving shares a heritage with the Wyllis-Overland M38A1 Jeep of WWII fame. Its interior is spartan, amenities are nonexistent, and the whole vehicle, from its galvanized bumper to its aluminum hardtop exudes an aura of no-nonsense functionality. It seems capable of just about anything, which is good considering the jungle it's headed for.
The level of attention paid to this vehicle is impressive. In preparing it for the trip, Messrs Kenner and Dixon have equipped it with large tires, winches front and back, digging tools, extra fuel tanks, a roof rack for expedition gear and everything you could need to extricate yourself from disaster, like cinch straps, climbing ropes and ground anchors.
When asked if they'd equipped the car with extra batteries for starting, Mr. Richer asked, "Why?". He then reached behind the driver's seat, pulled out a crank, slipped it into a hole in the front bumper and started the car with a quick pull on the crank end. As he said after I picked my jaw up off the ground, "The key that most people miss is simplicity. This car has an almost-nonexistent electrical system, a simple, easily field-repairable engine and drive train, and no fancy electronics other than the communications gear I installed. With a good set of hand tools, you can rebuild the engine sitting in a jungle clearing, a feat a bit beyond newer vehicles".
Both Mr. Kenner, a senior member of Environment Canada and Mr. Richer, an engineer for IBM, are confident that they will complete the journey in good form. After seeing them and their time machine, I think that the Discoveries on the trip have more to worry about from the Series competition than they do from the jungle.
G. Sarducci - World 4x4 News
Reprinted from the Ottawa Valley Land Rovers newsletter, December, 1997