ANZAC LEGENDS: THE LAND ROVER PERENTIE

To commemorate ANZAC Day, we road-tested two very different Land Rover Perenties… and have the bruises to prove it!

 

For images and the full Unsealed 4X4 experience, read this on our digital magazine platform.

 

It was about about 10am, and I was driving through the western suburbs of Sydney in an Ex-Army Land Rover Perentie. The only thing bigger than the smile on my face was the throbbing pain surging through my right arm after smashing it on the door skin once again. There’s no power-assisted steering here folks, and the gun racks sitting between the front seats kind of cement the notion that this isn’t your average off-roader.

 

While rolling to a set of lights, a tiny voice could be heard. “Hi, Mr Army man.” The small buzz-box parked next to me contained two of the most excited kids I have ever seen; both could not stop waving and gawking at the camo-painted ex-Army Landie. While the initial cuteness of the situation made me chuckle, I soon learned that it wasn’t just kids who were drawn to these vehicles. Nearly every man, woman or aging Maltese Terrier I drove past did a double take as I roared towards my destination (the Wollemi National Park). I was late to meet up with my colleague and Land Rover guru Sam Purcell, who was driving something even more special. A fine piece of engineering dubbed The Pimped Perentie built by Australian Frontline Machinery. This was going to be a road test to remember… and just in time for ANZAC Day.

 

THE HISTORY OF PROJECT PERENTIE

In the mid 1980s, the Australian Defence Force sent out tenders for nearly 3,000 vehicles to be produced for active service. The competition was reduced to three potential manufacturers: Land Rover, Jeep and Mercedes. Land Rover (Jaguar Rover Australia, to be precise) got the nod to build both 4X4 and 6X6 propelled vehicles; however the outcome couldn’t be more different to the equivalent Series Landies or later Defenders sold worldwide through dealer networks.

 

The Perentie chassis is damn-near bomb proof (I wonder why) and is completely hot-dipped galvanised to prevent rust. The standard small-capacity Land Rover engines were not deemed powerful enough, much to the dismay of Land Rover purists; and a Japanese-sourced Isuzu 3.9l 4BD1 power plant was chosen. This diesel engine is an absolute torque monster, even moreso in the 6X6 variants that were also turbo-charged to cope with additional loads. With so much torque from near idle, an ‘A’ Spec Land Rover LT95 4-speed gearbox was the only suitable gearbox strong enough in the Land Rover spare parts bin – thanks to the inclusion of stronger tapered roller bearings. “This gearbox runs on engine oil, not gear oil,” our resident Landy Man Sam Purcell exclaimed… not that I asked. The driveline is backed up by a Salisbury 8HA rear differential (based off a Dana 60), which is simply huge; it needs to be!

 

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