1998 Land Rover Defender 110SW Camel Trophy


・Rare Camel Trophy model, used in 1998 event
・Expedition specification, including additional fuel tank
・Enthusiast-owned and maintained
・Previously owned by Land Rover as an exhibition vehicle

The Background

Originally the UK's answer to the American Jeep, the Land Rover Defender barely needs an introduction. It became one of the best-loved cars in the UK and with one of the longest production runs of any car globally.

The Defender became synonymous with off-road capability, with only specialist machinery able to get further but lacking the Land Rover's road manners. That's especially true of this rather interesting example.

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The History

This Defender might have the most interesting early life of any vehicle we've seen. First registered in May 1998, the 110 SW had been through the hands of Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations branch before being shipped off to South America.

That's because it would take part in the 1998 Camel Trophy, the final staging of the overland rally sponsored by Land Rover, as car CT36. A total of 20 teams would drive the new Freelander, and each had a Defender as a support vehicle.

The event would see the vehicles covering around 5,000 miles of highly varied terrain between Santiago in Chile and Ushuaia in Argentina via four checkpoints and as many “Discovery” locations as the teams could manage. While the Freelanders were the competition cars, the Defenders went everywhere the Freelanders did too.

After its duty in South America, for Team Romania (Aron Gorog and Zoltan Bartha), the Defender returned to the UK and was sold to a private owner. However it came back into Land Rover's possession soon after, and was used as a showroom display vehicle around the country.

The current owner picked the car up in 2017. A Land Rover enthusiast for over 20 years, the owner decided he wanted a real Camel Trophy model to take on an expedition to Africa as a “bucket list” experience. That's exactly what he did with it too, taking it on a three-week tour of Morocco in 2019. With the adventure itch scratched, the owner has decided that someone else should now have the same fun.

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The Paperwork

As a somewhat specialised vehicle, there's plenty of evidence of the Defender being well looked after, with copies of paperwork detailing its previous ownership. The current owner has invoices and receipts for servicing and work which includes both a wider refurbishment and replacement components.

The Defender is currently covered by a very recent MOT, so you can just drive it away, and the MOT history shows no major blemishes; a gap in the record between 2009 and 2017 reflects the time it was used by Land Rover as a display vehicle.

Like all Camel Trophy cars, which are highly desired by Land Rover fans and attract a significant following, the Defender's original purpose is well documented, and there's even an online register for the cars.

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The Interior

While ordinary Land Rover Defender cabins are relatively simple affairs - you get as many seats as you need and a handful of manual controls – the Camel Trophy interior is a little busier.

You still get the basic seats though, with two in the front and a rear bench holding three. They're in great condition, and the labelling somewhat hints at relatively recent replacement or refurbishment. Unlike older, pre-Defender Defenders, there's also door cards in matching grey trim.

The dashboard is pretty regular fare for a Defender of this era, with a few additions. There's an extra panel in the centre, bearing plaques relating to the Camel Trophy and additional switches. You'll also find a flexible map light and an upgraded audio system, including a Pioneer head unit that supports USB connectivity and a removable faceplate.

The rear of the cabin, from the B-pillar back, is dominated by a large roll cage. That extends into the load area which has metal mesh guards on the windows and to separate it from the passenger compartment. There's a large high lift ratchet jack strapped to the cage in the rear too.

This Defender comes with some extra interior too. On the roof you'll find a two-berth sleeping pod (accessed by a small ladder), and there's an extendable awning on the passenger side.

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The Exterior

There's really rather a lot going on externally with CT36. We'll start with the Camel Trophy-specific Sandglow paint (often called Camel Trophy Yellow), which looks to be in great condition throughout. In addition, the car sports its original decals, from the official “Tierra del Fuego '98” pattern to sponsor logos and even the Team Romania flag.

It's quite difficult to miss the external roll cage too. This pairs with the internal one as a single unit, designed by Safety Devices for the Defender and fitted to the Camel Trophy cars. Atop that is the roof rack, which holds the sleeping pod and awning, along with spare jerry cans, high level spotlights, and the Camel Trophy plaque.

The armoured look continues round the front with a large light guard and skid plate. You'll find a winch in the front bumper, and various survival tools strapped to the outside – including a shovel and two spare wheels.

All six wheels are in good condition – and finished in the same Sandglow colour – and while there's a little patina around the black bumpers front and rear, it's all finished to a very high condition throughout.

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The Mechanics

The support vehicles all used the 300 Tdi engine, the final generation of the straight-four turbo diesel  before it was replaced by the Td5, and with 90,000 miles under its belt, it's just about run-in by now.

Although we've not had a chance to drive it, the owner reports that it starts and runs without any issues at all, and it's even relatively sprightly – though 110hp and 195lbft doesn't sound like much in a car that tips the scales above two tons!

As a Camel Trophy car it's had to endure significantly more in the first six months of its life than most cars ever will, and it has continued to do so since. The owner has taken it on two expeditions – to Portugal in 2018 as a trial run, and then a three-week tour of Morocco in 2019 – and in all that time has only had to replace three lighting bulbs.

The seller does note that there is a slickshift fitted – to reduce the throw required on the gear lever – and it could do with a little adjustment to get it working perfectly, but otherwise there's nothing for a new owner to do but plan where in the world they want to take it.

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The Appeal

Most Defenders are a little special in their own way, but a genuine Camel Trophy machine is verging on gold dust in the Land Rover community. These are the cars every Defender owner will look at in admiration.

The current owner used it just as it was used originally, and with all the various accoutrements it's still ready to take you on an expedition to pretty much anywhere you can think of too.

As a 1998 model, it's one of the cars that ran in the last ever Land Rover-sponsored version of the event, and the 25th anniversary of that is two years away so now is an ideal time to buy.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1998
  • Make Land Rover
  • Model Defender
  • Colour Gold
  • Odometer 90,678 Miles
  • Engine size 2495
  • Location Yorkshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
18 bids
  • Da•••• £56,000 11/10/21
  • ro•••• £55,500 11/10/21
  • Da•••• £55,000 11/10/21
  • ro•••• £54,999 11/10/21
  • ro•••• £54,500 11/10/21
  • Da•••• £54,000 11/10/21
  • ro•••• £53,500 11/10/21
  • Da•••• £53,000 11/10/21
  • Da•••• £52,500 11/10/21
  • ro•••• £52,000 11/10/21

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