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The Camel Trophy was a vehicle-oriented competition that was held annually between 1980 and 2000, and it was best known for its use of Land Rover vehicles over challenging terrain. The event took its name from its main sponsor, the Camel cigarette brand.
The Camel Trophy originated in 1980 with three Jeep-equipped German teams exploring the Amazon Basin. After that first event, the organisers turned to Land Rover for support and over the course of the next twenty years, all of the Land Rover vehicle range were used. Range Rover, Land Rover Series III, Land Rover Defender, Land Rover Discovery, and Freelander vehicles all appeared in the distinctive "sandglow" colour scheme.
The vehicles were heavily modified by Land Rover Special Vehicles with a range of expedition, recovery, and safety equipment, including:
- Safety Devices roll cages
- Under body protection and steering guards
- Modified electrical systems
- Dixon Bate tow hitches and recovery points
- Mantec snorkels
- Transmission breathers
- Michelin XCL or BF Goodrich Mud Terrain tyres
- Upgraded suspension and transmission components
- Auxiliary fuel tanks
- Webasto fuel burning heaters
- Brownchurch / Safety Devices roof racks
- Hella driving, spot, fog, convoy and work lamps
- Brownchurch Bull bars and bush wires
- Flag poles
- Event plaques, decals and sponsor logos (including Camel Trophy Adventure Wear/Bags/Boots/Watches, Lee Cougan, Perception, Sony, Scott USA, Safety Devices, Land Rover, Fjällräven, Warn, Malaysia Airlines, Superwinch, Royal Dutch Shell, Shell, Avon)
- Expedition tools, Jerry cans, Pelican cases, Zarges boxes, high lift or New Concept air jacks, sand ladders, axes, ropes, drawbars, spades.
- Garmin, Terratrip and other navigation and communication equipment
Generally speaking, except for support and specialist vehicles, the Land Rovers were only used for one event. Some competitors purchased their vehicles and many remained in the host country. Consequently, those vehicles that returned to the United Kingdom were highly sought after as they were low mileage - but they were "Camel Trophy miles". They were stripped of most of their equipment by Land Rover before they were released and restoring the vehicles to their original condition is expensive and time-consuming.
List of events and vehicles used
|Year||Location||Team Vehicles||Support Vehicles|
|1980||Trans-Amazonian Highway||Ford U50's (License built Jeep CJ5's)|
|1981||Sumatra||Range Rover||Range Rover|
|1982||Papua New Guinea||Range Rover||Range Rover|
|1983||Zaire||Land Rover Series III 88"||Series III 109"|
|1984||Brazil||Land Rover Defender 110||110|
|1985||Borneo||Defender 90||Defender 110|
|1986||Australia||Defender 90||Defender 110|
|1987||Madagascar||Range Rover TD||Range Rover TD|
|1988||Sulawesi||Defender 110||Defender 110|
|1989||The Amazon||Defender 110||Defender 110|
|1990||Siberia USSR||Discovery 200tdi (3-door)||Defender 110 & 127"|
|1991||Tanzania Burundi||Discovery 200tdi||One Ten|
|1992||Guyana||Discovery 200tdi||Defender 110 200tdi|
|1993||Sabah-Malaysia||Discovery 200tdi||Defender 110 200tdi|
|1994||Argentina Paraguay Chile||Discovery 200tdi||Defender 110 200tdi|
|1995||Mundo Maya (Guatemala and Mexico)||Discovery 300tdi||Defender 110 300tdi|
|1996||Kalimantan||Discovery 300tdi||Defender 110 300tdi|
|1997||Mongolia||Discovery 300tdi||Defender 110 300tdi|
|1998||Tierra del Fuego||Freelander||Defender 110 300tdi|
|1999||Event not held|
|2000||Tonga-Samoa||Ribtec 655||Honda CRV and Defender 110 HCPU|
Over the 18-year period in which the Camel Trophy featured Land Rover vehicles, Italian teams ultimately won the Camel Trophy three times - in 1982, 1984, and 1987. Teams from the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Turkey all won the Camel Trophy twice.
|Year||Camel Trophy Winners||Winning Competitors' Names||Team Spirit Award||Special Tasks Award||Land Rover Award|
|1980||N/A||Klaus Karttna-Dircks and Uwe Machel||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1981||West Germany||Christian Swoboda and Knuth Mentel||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1982||Italy||Casare Geraudo and Giuliano Giongo||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1983||The Netherlands||Henk Bont and Frans Heij||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1984||Italy||Maurizo Levi and Alfredo Redaelli||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1985||Germany||Heinz Kallin and Bernd Strohdach||Brazil||N/A||N/A|
|1986||France||Jaques Mambre and Michel Courvallet||Australia||N/A||N/A|
|1987||Italy||Mauro Miele and Vincenzo Tota||Spain||N/A||N/A|
|1988||Turkey||Galip Gurel and Ali Deveci||UK||N/A||N/A|
|1989||UK||Bob Ives and Joe Ives||Belgium||N/A||N/A|
|1990||The Netherlands||Rob Kamps and Stijn Luyx||Canary Islands||N/A||N/A|
|1991||Turkey||Menderes Utku and Bulent Ozler||Turkey||Austria||N/A|
|1992||Switzerland||Alwin Arnold and Urs Bruggisser||USA||France||N/A|
|1993||USA||Tim Hensley and Michael Hussey||Canary Islands||France||N/A|
|1994||Spain||Carlos Martinez and Jorge Corella||South Africa||Spain||N/A|
|1995||Czech Republic||Zdenek Nemec and Marek Rocejdl||Russia||Czech Republic||N/A|
|1996||Greece||Miltos Farmakis and Nikos Solirchos||South Africa||Russia||Greece|
|1997||Austria||Stefan Auer and Albnecht Thousing||Sweden||N/A||Mihai Mares and Manu Cornel, Romania.|
|1998||France||William Michael and Marc Challamel||South Africa||N/A||Spain|
Camel Trophy's successor: the "G4 Challenge"
In 2003, competitors representing sixteen nations helped Land Rover fill the gap left after the demise of Camel Trophy. Surprisingly, the inaugural Land Rover G4 Challenge contained many of the elements of Camel Trophy 1998, which Land Rover had reportedly been disappointed with. The "ultimate global adventure" was a test of skill, stamina, and mental agility in four separate stages, each in a different time zone. The prize was a top-of-the-range Freelander or Range Rover. The winner Rudi Thoelen declined a Range Rover, and opted for two Defenders instead.
The 2006 Land Rover G4 Challenge promised to be tougher than the inaugural event and delivered a more vehicle-based focus. The competitors, working in bi-national teams faced thousands of miles of vehicle-based activity in Thailand, Laos, Brazil, and Bolivia.
The 2008-9 G4 Challenge, supporting the Red Cross and based in Mongolia, was cancelled in December 2008 in the middle of the selection stages due to the current global economic downturn. Land Rover were forced to end the event as a cost saving-measure to allow them to focus on product launches in 2009.
Odyssey: Driving Around the World TV series and Land Rover CPO
By incorporating their Certified Pre-Owned Brand into Camel Trophy spirited events, Land Rover sponsored an around the world expedition and television series in 2005. It was produced into a travel adventure television series titled "Odyssey: Driving Around the World" which first aired on the National Geographic Adventure Channel worldwide. Seven people drove 41,000 miles through 26 countries for over a year. The expedition was a fundraiser for Parkinson's Disease and also raised money for several organizations along the route. It followed the Land Rover tradition of keeping modifications to the vehicles at a minimum. These vehicles are sought after in the Land Rover community as there were only four in the series.
- Camel (cigarette)
- Land Rover
- Odyssey Driving Around the World
- Land Rover Series
- Land Rover Defender
- Range Rover Classic
- Land Rover Discovery
- Land Rover Freelander
- "Camel Trophy Owners Club - One Life. Live It". Cameltrophy.co.uk. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
- Camel Trophy Forever - Brasil Photos, events, history, hobbies, articles ...
- Camel Trophy Video YouTube is a good source of free-to-view Camel Trophy footage.
- Camel Trophy Owners Club The Camel Trophy Owners Club intends to keep the Camel Trophy spirit alive!
- The Keynsham Camels A group of Camel Trophy enthusiasts from south west England
- Camel Trophy Portugal Photos, articles, vehicle replicas and events (in Portuguese)
- Camel Trophy Shop Camel Trophy memorabilia
- SmokeandRubber.com Motorsort DVD Shop Re-release of the Camel Trophy events from 1990 to 1998 on DVD
- The Land Rover FAQ Camel Trophy Info - list of event results and vehicles used
- Camel Trophy Boats Sale of the original camel trophy boats used in the 2000 event. Good photos and info.
- Camel Trophy Netherlands A group of Camel trophy enthusiasts from the Netherlands.
- Camel Trophy Adventures - Bulgaria Camel Trophy Adventure Holidays in Bulgaria.
- Onze Defender Blog Private blog in Dutch
- Odyssey Driving Around the World Land Rover TV series