The Land Rover “Perentie” is probably the toughest Land Rover ever made, a few thousand were built for the Australian Defense Force and they were deployed in both peacekeeping and military roles in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia over there decades-long service life.
Although the Perentie looks not that different to the standard two-door, 110 long-wheel base Land Rover it has been significantly modified. Power is now provided by a bulletproof Isuzu 3.9 liter diesel truck engine and it has a heavy duty chassis that’s so strong the entire vehicle can be transported by helicopter with a tether to just one corner.
Fast Facts – The Land Rover Perentie
- In 1983 the Australian Army put out a tender for a new series of 1 and 2 tonne 4×4 and 6×6 vehicles the would be able to fulfill a variety of roles, from reconnaissance and troop transport to ambulance and radio communications.
- The name “Perentie” comes from the lizard species (varanus giganteus), the largest goanna lizard native to Australia.
- Each Perentie started life as a two-door, long-wheelbase Land Rover 110. Most are soft tops in military camouflage and they’ve now been largely soft into civilian ownership where they’re prized for their off-road ability.
- Some Perenties have been customized by their civilian owners, with new paintwork and some additional changes to make them easier to live with, like sound deadening, stereo systems, new seats, and new non-military paint schemes.
Perentie – The Toughest Land Rover Ever Made
In 1983 the Australian Army launched the Project Perentie tender to supply 3,000 1 and 2 tonne off-road vehicles for military use. The applications were quickly whittled down to three marques – Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, and Land Rover.
Ultimately it would be Jaguar Rover Australia (JRA) that would win the tender, though it wouldn’t be a production Land Rover that was given the green light, but rather a highly modified Land Rover 110 with a new 3.9 liter Isuzu 4BD1 diesel engine, an uprated gearbox, uprated axles front and back, heavy duty suspension, and a strengthened chassis that had been hot-dip galvanized.
Both 4×4 and 6×6 versions of the Perentie were made, the 4×4 was 1 tonne rated and the 6×6 was 2 tone rated. The larger 6×6 version had a full custom chassis and was often used as a field ambulance, considerably fewer 6×6 variants were made and they’re not popular for camper conversions.
The original Land Rover diesel engine that was in use at the time was deemed underpowered for military use, which is why Jaguar Rover Australia (JRA) opted to use the 3.9 liter Isuzu diesel engine. This engine is a four-cylinder unit with overhead valves that produces 88.5 hp at 3,200 rpm and 180 lb ft of torque at just 1,900 rpm.
In the 4×4 version the engine was naturally aspirated and in the 6×6 version a turbocharger was added. Due to the toughness of the engines a popular retrofit now is to bolt on a turbo kit to the 4×4 to boost power significantly with no compromise to reliability.
The Perenties were built under two major contracts, the original Project Perentie contract from 1987 to 1990 and the second was titled Project Bushranger, which took place later in the 1990s. They’ve been called “The toughest Land Rovers ever made” and there’s some truth to that, they have certainly lived up to their giant goanna namesake.
Above Video: Les Hiddins became an Australian icon with his ABC television series “Bush Tucker Man,” he drives a Land Rover Perentie throughout the series and introduced the vehicle to many Australians outside the armed services for the first time.
The majority of Perenties have now been sold into civilian hands and there are companies like LandyBitz that specialize in sourcing and shipping them to international buyers.
The 1989 Land Rover Perentie Shown Here
The Perentie you see here is a 1989 model that has been modified and upgraded by the team at Team Perentie in Australia with the “Urbanisation Package” that makes the vehicle better suited to regular civilian road use.
This package includes soundproofing, a keyed ignition, and new seals throughout. It also has KLR power steering, Raptor coating for the load space, bars, and wheel arches, plus checker plate metal trims. It is fitted with a TP custom ‘bikini’ canopy, shark fin snorkel, and an LED headlight upgrade.
This Perentie also comes with receipts for approximately $7,000 in recent mechanical maintenance work, and it’s been resprayed in a custom Dune Beige colour scheme over a Black interior that utilises hard-wearing marine grade vinyl and carpeting.
It’s currently being auctioned live online by Collecting Cars, if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit the listing.
Images courtesy of Collecting Cars
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