What’s the story?
Step into Land Rover's Las Vegas dealership and your eyes are bombarded with the gleaming new models on display - as you'd expect. The equally well-presented 'classics' - a 1954 Series I and 1967 Series IIA, a as-new 300Tdi Defender 130, stunning AA-yellow LWB 4.2-litre V8 overland-prepared Range Rover or 1995 ex-Camel Trophy Discovery - are more of a surprise.
But the vehicle that really grabs your attention even in this city of desperate attention-seekers, is this 1964 G4 Challenge-themed, bright orange, V8-powered Series IIA Forward Control, which stands head and shoulders above the rest.
Run by Land Rover fanatic Ray DiNardi since 1999, Land Rover Las Vegas (LRLV) goes way beyond the remit of simply selling and servicing the modern vehicles. Among other activities and services, LRLV offers off-road adventures in which customers drive their own vehicles through the amazing off-road trails in the area.
To promote the brand and recce these trips, Ray gathered a selection of fully functioning historic vehicles embracing some of Land Rover's most famous models. Then he and his marketing team decided they needed a larger promotional vehicle...
Our favourite bit?
When it's on site, whether at LRLV's HQ or at an event, the Forward Control attracts all-comers, from kids to grandads. Let's face it: how could anyone resist a big, British fire engine from the '60s with mud-terrains, painted bright orange and fitted with a top-of-the-line audio/video/PA system?
And the verdict from LRO writer Jerome Andre?
Let's just say that the Forward Control is more effective at gathering the crowds at corporate events than burning rubber on the blacktop. It drives around town, on the freeway or through the desert without any problem, considering it's a 50-year-old truck fitted with mud tyres. Don't be deceived by the TCI Fastgate race-spec gearshifter, it's only connected to a 1995 Discovery gearbox, not to a dragster transmission.
However, Rick is in no doubt whatsoever that LRLV's activities with the Forward Control and the rest of its vintage vehicle collection help to build customer relationships and sales - something that other dedicated dealerships could learn from and get inspired by.
Model: Series IIA Forward Control
Transmission: Four-speed ZF automatic
Suspension: Standard leaf springs