Speed-up, there’s a corner ahead!

Road Test: Mattrack Land Rover 110

Occasionally, we get to drive something just that little bit different here at Motor Writer. A few days ago, our friends at Jaguar Land Rover aired some of their famous exhibition vehicles, so without a moment’s hesitation, I headed straight for the tracked Defender 110.

This particular Land Rover was used by Sir Ranulph Fiennes to recce the round-the-world expedition back in 1998. That the expedition was cancelled is almost immaterial; the fact that these machines actually exist is a testament to the mad-cap thinking and wonderful Wacky Races mentality. This Defender was a development vehicle which just happened to be available at the time so it has a mix of Defender technology, including a rear power take-off (PTO).

Driving a Mattrack-equipped Land Rover is not for the faint-hearted (or weak armed); it is actually impossible to turn the steering wheel unless on the move. Pulling away is generally done in third because all the ratios are lowered due to the small driven wheels within the tracks. On the move, it’s exactly as you might expect: noisy, shaky and still very hard to turn that steering wheel.

There is a temptation to drive slowly because of the vibrations and cornering challenges, but in fact, as one speeds up, cornering ease improves and the vibrations – well, they just get worse. I did a lap round the Motor Heritage Centre at Gaydon, which was immense fun but probably enough. Round the world? What were they thinking?

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