Courtesy of Cars & Bids

This Discovery was commissioned by Land Rover Special Vehicles to compete in the 1992 edition of the Camel Trophy, held in Guyana. It was piloted 1,600 kilometers (roughly 1,000 miles) from Manaus, Brazil, to Georgetown, Guyana, by Team USA and captured the Team Spirit Award that year.

This is a Euro-spec, left-hand-drive truck that’s titled in Florida. Said to be imported shortly after the conclusion of the 1992 event, it’s equipped with a metric instrument cluster, and the odometer shows about 29,700 kilometers, which represents approximately 18,500 miles.

Power comes from a 2.5-liter turbodiesel inline 4, rated at 111 horsepower and 195 foot-pounds of torque. Output is sent to the rear or all four wheels through a 5-speed manual transmission and a part-time 2-speed transfer case.

This Discovery was heavily modified at Land Rover’s Special Installations division and features Hella off-road lighting, a Brownchurch front bumper and push bar, a Warn winch, Mantec snorkel, a roof rack with a full complement of recovery gear, heavy-duty springs and shocks, upgraded half-shafts, skid plates and much more.

The inaugural Camel Trophy event kicked off in 1980, deep in the jungles of Brazil, and featured a trio of German teams driving South American-built Jeeps. Over the next 18 years, however, Land Rover vehicles were exclusively used for the event, with Discoveries making an appearance for eight of those. They competed in harsh and unforgiving environments including deserts, jungles and tundra, covering vast distances with little more than the skill and wit of their drivers and what they carried onboard for the duration of the journey.

SCM Analysis

Detailing

Vehicle:1992 Land Rover Discovery Camel Trophy
Years Produced:1989–98
Number Produced:16 (for 1992 Camel Trophy)
Tune Up Cost:$350
Chassis Number Location:Frame stamping, front right corner
Engine Number Location:Stamped on the cylinder block on the right hand side above the camshaft front cover plate
Club Info:R.O.V.E.R.S. Club
Website:http://www.roversclub.org
Alternatives:1979–92 Mercedes Benz Geländewagen, 1969–96 Land Rover Range Rover, 1990–97 Toyota Land Cruiser

This vehicle sold for $94,050, including buyer’s premium, on Cars & Bids on May 3, 2021.

Land Rovers get a pretty bad rap in this country, and while I’m a huge fan of the brand, I can’t really jump to its defense. I’ve had several and I know the pitfalls. That said, Americans have suffered in the Land Rover department because, for quite a while, we never got the “good ones.”

Disregard this specific truck’s competition history — we’ll come back to that — and you find a desirable left-hand-drive turbodiesel with a 5-speed. This European-spec example is something never offered here in the States. It is, indeed, one of the good ones.

Ironically enough, these Camel Trophy Discos were meant to promote both the brand’s reliability and their off-road capabilities. Quite by contrast, the U.S. market’s exclusively V8-powered automatics generally just drove from the suburbs to Nordstrom — and then off to the dealership on the back of a flatbed for some expensive service work.

Style and substance

Despite this well-deserved reputation, owning a Land Rover (even one of the modern, computerized era) can be really rewarding, so long as you know which one to get, which one to avoid, and the things to upgrade and maintain. As always with these sorts of vehicles, a marque-expert shop is your best friend.

In recent years, I’ve put over 20,000 road-trip miles on a Euro-spec Defender 110 that is similar to our subject vehicle (a turbodiesel with a manual gearbox). It has rarely needed a thing, and when it has, it’s been easy to fix and the parts are cheap. If you’re looking for a vintage 4×4 to actually use off-road, you won’t find anything more capable.

Vintage Rovers offer both style and substance, and their collectibility continues to grow. Land Rovers are not in short supply, and though it’s tough to find low-mileage, well-kept original examples, there are few truly rare ones. This Camel Trophy veteran, however, certainly qualifies.

It may come as a shock to some, but there are serious Land Rover collectors out there, and the opportunity to buy a real Camel Trophy truck just doesn’t present itself that often. From what I can find, the last one of these that came up on the open market here in the U.S. was more than three years ago.

You’ve got the look

As a kid, I distinctly remember reading an old book on the brand, and it estimated that for more than half the world’s population, the first car they ever saw was a Land Rover. While that may be apocryphal, the magic of Land Rover has always been its use in the most remote places on the globe. Our fascination with exploration goes hand in hand with the various Land Rover expeditions over the decades. They have certainly laid the foundation for the current explosion of interest in overlanding.

Seeing caravans of these yellow Rovers trekking through jungles or deserts is captivating. The Camel Trophy look is the equivalent of the Gulf Oil livery for SUVs, and while the Discovery isn’t the Land Rover Defender, any real Camel Trophy Rover is a big deal. This Discovery’s faded paint, battle scars and full kit are definitely a part of the appeal. There’s no imagination needed here. It’s the reason a vehicle described as having “forded a number of rivers, and at one point was completely submerged during a training expedition” brought what I believe is a world-record price.

Authentically imperfect

This rarity and authenticity is only enhanced by the condition of this example. Mileage is low and the truck is unrestored and unaltered. It presents pretty much as it finished the 1,000-mile trip from Brazil to Guyana in 1992. It does sound, per the exceedingly honest description, as though the vehicle is in need of some pretty serious attention if it is to be made off-road-worthy again. More likely though, that this Land Rover will see a pretty sedate existence moving forward. It certainly screams for display, right down to its fantastic original Michelin XCL tires.

I’m going to call this well sold, because $94,000 Discos are few and far between. But this is a well-deserved price for an unusual opportunity. We can also rejoice in the truck’s original and imperfect condition being a positive selling point. It’s refreshing to see given all the highly restored historic race cars in our hobby. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Cars & Bids.)

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