This 1997 Land Rover Discovery was built up to expedition specification before it left England to take part in the 1997 Camel Trophy in Mongolia – an event often referred to as “The Olympics of 4×4.”
This Discovery was driven by the Spanish team in the event which covered 1,000 miles across Mongolia and its wildly varied terrain. The vehicle remains in remarkably good condition today and it’s due to cross the auction block at the end of June. It is one of just 20 made for the event that year.
Fast Facts – A 1997 Camel Trophy Land Rover Discovery
- The Land Rover Discovery was first released in 1989 as the British company’s new “modern” four-wheel drive. It was positioned between the Range Rover and Defender in the model line up, and it proved a strong seller.
- As with the earlier Series Land Rovers, the Discovery was designed to be highly capable off-road, but unlike with the Series vehicles it was also designed to be comfortable and easy to use on-road.
- The Land Rover Discovery has now been sold over three major generations over a period of 34 years and counting, and it remains one of the British marque’s most popular models.
- The Discovery you see here is one of 20 that was prepared by Land Rover for the Camel Trophy in Mongolia in 1997, it remains in remarkably original condition throughout and it’s now being offered for sale by Artcurial.
The Land Rover Discovery
The Land Rover Discovery Series 1 was introduced in 1989, positioned below the luxury-oriented Range Rover and above the rugged 90 and 110 models that would later become the Defender. The Discovery was designed to cater to a broader market by offering a more affordable and practical alternative to the Range Rover, and a more comfortable and daily-driveable vehicle than the Defender.
The Discovery Series 1 featured all-new Land Rover styling, with a focus on functionality and versatility. It used body-on-frame construction with live axles front and back riding on coil springs, it had a dual-range transfer case, and permanent four wheel drive.
Initially, it was available with the 3.5 liter Rover V8 petrol engine. Later, Land Rover introduced a 200Tdi turbodiesel engine, known for its good torque characteristics and better fuel efficiency. The diesel variant gained popularity due to its durability and lower running costs.
The Series 1 Discovery would remain in production from 1989 to 1998 when it was replaced with the Discovery Series 2. The early Series 1 vehicles are now starting to become collectible, particularly the earliest two-door models and the special edition examples such as those used in the Camel Trophy.
The Camel Trophy
Although the Camel Trophy would become famous for its association with Land Rover vehicles, it actually started out as a Jeep-based event.
Above Video: This is the official recap video of the 1997 Camel Trophy that took place in Mongolia. The Discovery in this article is in the film, it’s the one being driven by the Spanish team.
In 1980 three German team set off to explore the Amazon Basin driving Jeeps, they would establish the format of the Camel Trophy and the event was launched a year later. Camel cigarettes was the primary sponsor and Land Rover was the vehicle supplier – a format that would remain in place for the remainder of the event until it was closed down due to the ban on cigarette sponsorship in the year 2000.
The Camel Trophy became known as “The Olympics of 4×4,” it took place in various countries around the world with teams made up of compatriots. Teams competed in crossing exceedingly challenging terrain and prizes were given for winning the event, there was also a Team Spirit award.
After the event was disbanded in 2000 Land Rover launched the G4 Challenge, it followed the format of the Camel Trophy fairly closely and it ran from 2003 until 2008 when it was cancelled due to the Great Recession – sadly it was never relaunched.
The 1997 Camel Trophy Discovery Shown Here
The vehicle you see here is the best-preserved Camel Trophy Land Rover we have yet come across, perhaps because it has just 33,500 kms on the odometer from new, it was also stored for 10 years.
This is the Discovery that was driven by the Spanish team at the 1997 Camel Trophy in Mongolia. The Trophy was won that year by the Austrian team, with the Swedish team taking the Team Spirit award. The Spanish team consisted of Joan Oliva and Ignacio Roviralta, with all teams piloting matching Land Rover Discovery 300 Tdis.
There were 20 teams in total, they covered over 1,000 miles departing from Ulaanbaatar – interestingly Mongolia’s Prime Minister Enkhsaikhan drove the first Camel Trophy Discovery from the podium in the centre of the square with Mongolian horsemen on either side as an escort.
The event would finish in the ancient Mongolian capital of Kharakorum, though no one knew it at the time it would be the third-to-last Camel Trophy ever held.
This Camel Trophy veteran still wears its original Sandglow Yellow paintwork and the majority of the stickers are originals. All of the auxiliary lights and the iconic kayak and paddle roofrack are all still present and accounted for and the vehicle still has its Terratrip, GPS, map reader, and radio fitted from the event.
In 2022 the wheels were all repainted, new shock absorbers were installed along with a new exhaust, and in May of 2023 the vehicle was serviced by Land Rover.
The Discovery you see here is now due to roll across the auction block with Artcurial on the 30th of June at their Le Mans auction. The current price guide is $32,300 – $53,800 USD and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.
Images courtesy of Artcurial
Articles that Ben has written have been covered on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, Autoweek Magazine, Wired Magazine, Autoblog, Gear Patrol, Jalopnik, The Verge, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with well over a million monthly readers from around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.