Military Land Rovers and the Art of War

The slightly naive artwork in these rare images looks like it was commisioned by Airfix for a line of model kits for 11-year-olds, but it was actually used to sell military Land Rovers to governments worldwide. By using artist impressions in stead of photography, Land Rover could add flying helicopters and explosions, plus hide the fact that they had not built shown cars yet.

Nowadays, Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) is known for making Land Rover and Range Rover passenger cars a bit more ‘Special’ for their wealthy owners, but during the Cold War SVO used to be “able to produce an entire range of specialised vehicles, based on the Land Rover military chassis, to meet the needs of the most demanding customer,” according to the sales folder of which these images are part of.
The civilian Land Rover 110, then known as One Ten, started production in 1983, but the military chassis for the One Ten was ready for production in 1985, followed by the Ninety in 1986. Although the folder is not dated, there is mention of ‘wind up windows in front doors’. Together with the lift handle visible in the doors, this dates the artwork to around 1985/1986.

According to the fact sheets on the back of the drawn leaflets, The Land Rover Ninety in military guise was offered with the 2.5 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine, the One Ten Fitted For Radio (the soft top version, see image above) with 2.5 litre 4 cylinder (pre-turbo) diesel engine and the other One Ten models had the 3.5 litre V8 petrol engine under the bonnet. The Land Rover One Ten Special Forces Patrol Vehicle was based on a 110 High Capacity Pickup (HCPU) model. In reality, all vehicles could be ordered with a choice of all Land Rover engines available at that time.

Some specifications shown in this artwork never reached production, like the 2/3 door on the Ninety (see image above) with suicide hinges and a door mounted spare wheel to hinder easy access. The Ninety and One Ten FFR models were offered with County seats although I have never seen a Land Rover Fighting Vehicle fitted with Brushwood or Caviar cloth seats, vinyl was the norm.

When orders came in and Land Rover started production of their military Ninety and One Ten range, real cars were available for photography, subsequently later brochures for military Land Rovers did not feature explosions or real deserts. Unfortunately, the drawings seen here are not signed, so the artist remains unknown.

Ronald Janus
De Autoboerderij

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