Camel Trophy

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Camel Trophy Land Rover Defender 110 '91 Tanzania-Burundi Communications Unit
A pre scout expedition in 1991 in Guyana to explore the route for the Trophy 1992 planned to happen there. The vehicles are Land Rover Defender 110.

Camel Trophy was an off-road vehicle-oriented competition that was held annually between 1980 and 2000.[1][2][3] It was best known for its use of Land Rover vehicles over challenging terrain. Occasionally called "The Olympics of 4x4",[4] the event took its name from its main sponsor, the Camel cigarette brand.[5]


Camel Trophy originated in 1980 with three Jeep-equipped German teams exploring the Amazon Basin.[6][4] 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.[7] Range Rover, Land Rover Series III, Land Rover 90, Land Rover 110, Land Rover Defender, Land Rover Discovery, and Freelander vehicles all appeared in the distinctive "sandglow" colour scheme.

The cars were heavily modified by Land Rover Special Vehicles[8][5] with a range of expedition, recovery, and safety equipment, including:

  • Safety Devices roll cages
  • Under body protection (skid plates) and steering guards
  • Modified electrical systems
  • Winches
  • 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, making restoring the vehicles to their original competition condition expensive and time-consuming.

List of events and vehicles used[edit]

Year Location Team vehicles Support vehicles[9]
1980 Brazil Ford U50's (License built Jeep CJ5's)
1981 Indonesia/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 110 Land Rover 110
1985 Indonesia/Borneo Land Rover 90 Land Rover 110
1986 Australia Land Rover 90 Land Rover 110
1987 Madagascar Range Rover TD Range Rover TD
1988 Indonesia/Sulawesi Land Rover 110 Land Rover 110
1989 Brazil Land Rover 110 Land Rover 110
1990 Siberia, USSR Discovery 200tdi (3-door) Defender 110 & 127"
1991 Tanzania Burundi Discovery 200tdi One Ten
1992 Guyana[10] 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[11] (Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico) Discovery 300tdi Defender 110 300tdi
1996 Kalimantan Discovery 300tdi Defender 110 300tdi
1997 Mongolia[12] Discovery 300tdi Defender 110 300tdi
1998 Tierra del Fuego Freelander Defender 110 300tdi
2000 Tonga-Samoa Ribtec 655 Defender 110 HCPU and Honda CRV

Event results[edit]

Over the 18-year period in which the Camel Trophy featured Land Rover vehicles, Italian teams ultimately won the Camel Trophy three times[13] - in 1982,[14] 1984,[15] and 1987.[16] Teams from the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Turkey all won the Camel Trophy twice.[9]

Year Camel Trophy winners Winners' 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[17] Belgium N/A N/A
1990 The Netherlands Rob Kamps and Stijn Luyx Spain - 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 Spain - 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 Sotirchos 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"[edit]

In 2003, competitors representing sixteen nations helped Land Rover fill the gap left after the demise of Camel Trophy.[4] 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.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Camel Trophy Club - History".
  2. ^ a b "A brief history of the Camel Trophy". Archived from the original on 28 December 2021.
  3. ^ "Gallery: Land Rovers in the Camel Trophy over the years". 12 February 2021.
  4. ^ a b c "Camel Trophy Adventure: The Olympics of 4x4". 14 May 2020.
  5. ^ a b "The Camel Trophy Was Land Rover's Tastefully Adventurous Overland Challenge". 3 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Camel Trophy Club - Transamazonica 1980".
  7. ^ "Camel Trophy Club - Vehicles".
  8. ^ "An Original Camel Trophy Land Rover Defender". 12 October 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Camel Trophy Owners Club - One Life. Live It". Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  10. ^ Camel Trophy Chat episode 1: What it takes to be selected for Team UK. Camel Trophy Club. 6 December 2020. Archived from the original on 28 December 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2022 – via YouTube.
  11. ^ Camel Trophy Chat episode 2: Camel Trophy is not a race... So what is it?. Camel Trophy Club. 6 December 2020. Archived from the original on 28 December 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2022 – via YouTube.
  12. ^ Camel Trophy Chat episode 3: From Outer Mongolia to the middle of the Pacific. Camel Trophy Club. 6 December 2020. Archived from the original on 28 December 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2022 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Camel Trophy Chat episode 5: Team Italia. Camel Trophy Club. 21 March 2021. Retrieved 24 January 2022 – via YouTube.
  14. ^ "Camel Trophy Club - Papua New Guinea 1982".
  15. ^ "Camel Trophy Club - Brazil 1984".
  16. ^ "Camel Trophy Club - Madagascar 1987".
  17. ^ "Bob and Joe Ives awarded the 1989 RAC Segrave Trophy".

External links[edit]