The untold story of the mongrel army 4X4 with an Australian soul.
Amongst the olive-drab ocean of ex-military gear that’s going under the hammer on Grays Online every few weeks, there is a huge selection of 4X4 and 6X6 Land Rovers being sold off to the public. What you might or might not know about these units is that they are much more Australian than their iconic British look lets on. In fact, they are just about one of the most-Australian 4WDs that ever were. “Australian? That’s Pommy junk!” I can hear you grumbling from under your terry towelling hat. “What about an 80 Series or GQ?” Well, hold onto that hat, because I’ll explain.
The army wanted to replace the Series Rovers, which had been in service since Moses was in nappies, and Jaguar Rover Australia won the $130,000,000 contract ahead of the Mercedes 300GD and Jeep AM-10 offerings. Looking at the specs, the diesel One-Ten is a bit of an international mongrel: Pommy chassis and gearbox, Jap engine, an American-based rear differential; and all with a particularly Australian flavour. As a part of the deal, Land Rover Australia was able to gain certain tax breaks and incentives if a certain percentage of the car was manufactured or assembled domestically. Of course, they obliged – which makes the Army One-Ten more Australian than anything else.
The steel wheels are made by ROH, right here in Australia. Wrapping those were tyres made by now-dead Aussie company ‘Olympic’. The chassis on the 4X4 model was galvanised in Australia, as well as being modified to suit an underslung spare. The brake master cylinder is common with a contemporary Ford Falcon, made by PBR. All up, the Land Rover One-Ten Perentie is 50% Australian content. The turbocharged 6X6 is about as fair-dinkum as Alf Stewart, with 60% Aussie content. The chassis is 100% Australian designed and manufactured, as are the modified (widened) cab, tray, axles and other ancillaries. Stone the bloody crows.
Nowadays, the Land Rover Perenties are getting pushed out to pasture after almost 30 years of national service. They were actually only meant to last 15 years, but have managed to soldier on for double that with a refurbishment along the way. The army is swapping its snags for bratwurst, as replacement Mercedes G-Class 4X4 and 6X6 models come in with the Project Overlander (Land 121 ) project. I’m no army man, but I salute the service of the Rover; and the brave and honourable souls that pledge so much, sometimes their entire lives, to national service.
Want one for yourself?
The old stock of Army vehicles getting replaced is being periodically auctioned off by ‘Australian Frontline Machinery’. Motorbikes, quads, 4X4s, 6X6s and big trucks all go under the virtual hammer, every few weeks. They’re even selling spare parts.
Young Veterans is a movement through the RSL, in an effort to reach out to younger ex-servicemen and women. It was started by young veteran brothers Scott and Chris, who have returned from more recent conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq and are looking to bridge a void between them and older veterans.
In a part of promoting their cause, they have a Perentie fitted up with an aftermarket turbo, barwork, suspension and tyres, and they’re looking to compete in an upcoming Outback Challenge.