With the sun unusually shining on a February morning, Leoni and I took part in the Classic Military Vehicle Driving Day based in Christchurch, near Bournemouth. The experience was led by Peter who clearly has a passion for all-things-military, making him an excellent instructor for our day. Our experience involved driving a Land Rover 101 Forward Control with a Rolls Royce 4L Engine and a Humber Armored Personnel Carrier, proper old school army vehicles! Here’s how we got on…
First up was Leoni in the Land Rover. Now these vehicles are very old, there’s no fancy technology like power steering or even windshields on some of the vehicles, just good old fashioned strength. Leoni drove the Rover out of its parking spot and we hit the dirt track. Luckily for us, the sun hadn’t dried all the mud up, so we went splashing through and over the rutty path. I was riding in the back seat – you definitely have to hold on, it’s a bumpy ride! Next, it was my turn to take the wheel. It’s a lot harder than driving a car, but with Peters instructions and the odd “NOW LEFT, TOO MUCH LEFT!” we managed to get the hang of it. It was also very amusing listening to Peter shout “watch out for the broccoli!” as the track runs around the side of some crop fields. I navigated round the track back to the start point to drive our second vehicle.
The Humber Armored Personnel Carrier was used for exactly what its name is, to carry military personnel across various terrains, so it needed to be able to withstand some serious conditions. I hopped in the back and Leoni took the driver’s seat again and off we went. From watching, this one seemed harder to drive and it probably didn’t help that we both could only just about see out the windows! But we got round the track laughing and it truly was so much fun.
Thanks so much to Peter for having us! This experience is a totally unique way to spend a lovely morning in the countryside.
Following our exciting time at Greentrack Events in Bournemouth, Peter kindly took time answering some of our questions on how Greentrack Events came about. Keep reading to find out more!
Q. How was Greentrack Events born?
As a result of chasing rainbows in other commercial directions, when reality came home and I had to put something together that was real and could appeal to the general public.
Q. How did your passion for military vehicles begin?
Back in the sixties I spent three years with the Guards Brigade, where, in the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, after public duties, we were posted to Germany where for the first time we were issued with Humber APC’s. We used these for quite a long time before the Saracen APC superseded them. After leaving the Guards, one is always hankering to repeat the experience and one of the ways is to buy a reminder of those days, namely something of which you had first-hand knowledge of. I’m my case I was offered a Humber APC, which was not being used, by a local multi-millionaire who is married to Lord Montague’s niece. I then bought an Austin K9 3 3/4 tonne ex Royal Signals radio truck, closely followed by an Austin Champ jeep, now fitted with a Ben gun. This was followed by the Land Rover 101 ex-artillery tractor. Lastly, I acquired a long wheelbase Land Rover in reconnaissance trim.
Q. What would you say is the best thing about driving these military vehicles?
The best thing about driving these older ex-military vehicles is the nostalgia. The bigger military vehicles are really impracticable to own and let out for public driving, as they are inordinately expensive things to keep going and need a lot of back up. Our vehicles are unique and appeal to those people – sometimes with a military past – and generally, because they look like ‘big boys toys !’ On top of that is the reasonable cost involved.
Q. Can you tell us a little more about the vehicles you have?
The Humber 1 tonne armoured is a 1954 troop carrier. Weight 5 1/4 tonnes, Rolls Royce 6 cylinder engine. 2 and 4 wheel drive. Designed to take a section of infantry, safely, to a position where they can de-bus and attack the enemy, then retreat. Ours was fitted out later as a Mk2 that went to Northern Ireland, which were up-armoured to stop more modern weapon penetration. They do about 6/8 mpg off road.
The Land Rover 101 forward Control, 1974, an ex-artillery tractor bought from Scotland about 8 years ago. Very able off-road performance and will do 70 mph on a good day! Used to tow a 105mm pack gun with a tonne of ammunition and a crew of 6. Powered by a 3.5 LTR Rover V8 petrol engine, it is a permanent 4-wheel drive vehicle. Not the least trace of power assistance anywhere on the vehicle!
The Austin Champ, 1955 Jeep was in service immediately before the Army bought Land Rovers. It’s a chunky looking vehicle with a R.R 2.9 litre engine. It is a soft top with canvas sides, when fitted, or completely open. Seats 4/5, they were not as reliable as the Land Rover as a lot of people thought that they were over engineered. Great to drive and will go as quickly in reverse as forward!
Austin K9 1954 Radio truck. Ex Royal Signal, weighs 3 3/4 tonnes with a radio shack on the rear, behind the 2 seater cab. Excellent off road performance, 4-litre petrol engine, high driving position and has a ‘crash gearbox. Good looking as well!
Land Rover Long Wheelbase. 1974, kitted out as a reconnaissance vehicle, seats 7 max. Usual Land Rover performance, excellent off road. Great fun to drive.
Q. If you could say one thing to every customer what would it be?
Be prepared to leave us with a large smile on your face!
Q. Do you have any plans for expansion in the future?
I feel that we have enough choice of vehicles at the moment to really please and give prospective clients a super time with us.
Q. Is there anything you would like to add/mention that has not been covered?
Besides the one-off drives, we love to have groups of up to 10 people where we can arrange something different for them, ie. a longer drive with BBQ lunch, an orienteering experience with some ‘sniper’ shooting and a bottle of ‘bubbly’.
We would like to thank Peter for taking the time to answer some of our curious questions and hope you enjoyed finding out a little more about Greentrack Events in Dorset.
Group Size & Spectators:
Maximum group size: 12
On rare occasions it may be possible for passengers to ride in the vehicles, but only if there is available space. For this service there is a £10 fee, made payable on the day of the experience.
The Military Vehicle Driving Day In Dorset runs throughout the year.
This is a morning activity usually commencing at 11am and lasting around two hours in total. Each driver will receive 20-30 minutes in control of each vehicle.
In extreme weather conditions your experience may be called off, in which case it will be rescheduled for another date.
You should wear comfortable clothing that you don't mind getting a little dirty, and sturdy shoes.
There is no strict minimum age, but participants need to know how to use pedals and how to steer.
Licences are not required.
Minimum height: 5'2''
Maximum height: 6'4''
Maximum weight: 18 stone
There is no maximum age restriction however participants must be able to climb into the cab of the vehicle and be physically able to operate the vehicle.