What's the story?
This must surely be every weekend warrior’s dream machine – a gun-toting, doorless, battle-hardened Land Rover.
All ex-military Land Rovers have a degree of secrecy about them; a hidden past that no one can fully account for. Among this clandestine band of brothers, those vehicles prepared for special ops behind enemy lines are among the most elusive to track down. This extremely rare Pathfinder 90 is typical of the breed.
What makes it almost unique is that it’s only one of the two survivors from an original batch of 11, made for the Pathfinder Patrol (part of 16 Air Assault Brigade) sometime in the 1990s.
According to LRO’s resident Land Rover historian, James Taylor: ‘The Pathfinders were conversions of GS soft-top 90s. We can’t yet confirm that the SAS Dinky 90s were hijacked Pathfinder 90s; we know they had some differences but don’t know exactly what they were.’
‘Last year, Ian Gordon, a collector in Northern Ireland, was trawling the Internet looking for the next interesting military vehicle to add to his collection, when he found this. It was in a pretty rough state,’ explains Jim Smith, Ian’s business partner and vehicle restorer. ‘When we got it back here, we totally stripped it – wings off, bonnet off, carrying racks, removable body panels – everything off it. We took the engine out and fitted a new clutch, and refurbished everything under the bonnet. I spent ages under there!’
Our favourite bit?
The whole refurbishment took just eight weeks of Jim’s spare time – which belies just how exceptional it looks.
And the verdict from LRO writer Mark Saville?
‘Setting aside the slightly uncertain birthing details, there’s no denying the hard evidence in front of me – this is one well-prepared military machine. Little wonder that Jim and Ian are very proud of it.’
Model: Pathfinder 90
Engine: 2.5 diesel
Power: 66bhp at 4000rpm
Torque: 113lb ft at 1800rpm
Weapons: 7.62mm machine-guns