The Camel Trophy was an annual automotive sporting event that ran from 1980 to 2000. A cross between an expedition and a rally, it took place in some of the toughest terrains around the world – from the frozen lands of Siberia to the jungles of the Amazon. Sponsored by Camel cigarettes, the first Camel Trophy used Jeeps, but they were quickly found to lack range or ability to carry a significant load. So Land Rovers were used thereafter – initially Series IIIs, then Range Rovers, Defenders and then Discoverys.
The events tended to combine some expeditionary project (rebuilding temples, building bridges etc) with a competition involving navigational and driving skills. The vehicles were pretty standard, though they did have roll cages, twin battery systems and long range fuel tanks – and the iconic Camel Trophy livery of sandglow yellow. They have long been sought after as expedition vehicles and many are still to be found in the wild places of the world.
I owned one for a while, a 97 Discovery which I called Custard – she is mentioned in the post about Tusker, my Discovery 2
The cost of Custard’s restoration was however too much for me to bear so I had to sell her on.
However I missed her and in 2017, when I was living here in the UAE, a British friend in Dubai was looking to sell his Gulf-spec Camel Trophy Edition Discovery “Bumblebee” and asked me if I was interested. Of course I was – Bee is the last survivor of 250 made to be sold here in the Gulf to commemorate the Trophy. So I took her on as both desert vehicle and daily drive.
She is a 3.9 v8 automatic (the “event” Discoverys are tdi and manual), and Gulf spec, which means a beefed-up cooling system and air conditioning, and I’ve added a roof tent to augment the rear storage drawer system and split charge battery system installed by her previous owner.
She is a reliable and capable overland vehicle (if a little thirsty – the v8 automatic is not a frugal combination) and she has carried me all round the UAE and down into Oman (and up into Musandam, the exclave of Oman to the north) on several long trips. She is quick and comfortable and I’m very attached to her 🙂