Project Perentie stemmed from the
Australian Army requirement for a replacement for the Series
3 fleet, and the remaining Series 2 and 2a specialist
vehicles. The Armies requirements were first released at a
briefing to industry in July 1982, and tenders were released
to manufacturers for supply of three vehicles in each
category for evaluation by the Army. Those categories being
1 ton and 2 ton payloads.
For News Articles about the project, see
Page of REMLR
Of the seven 1 ton submissions, the army chose three for further evaluation and comparative trials. These were:
The evaluation vehicles were then handed over to the Army for extensive testing. One of each vehicle type was subjected to accelerated durability trials at the Army's Trials and Proving Wing at Monegeeta near Melbourne. Whilst the other two vehicles were involved in a very comprehensive series of user studies. This included hot wet trials at Tully in North Queensland, and cold weather trials at Khancoban in the Snowy Mountains. Various Army units around Australia were also given an opportunity to trial the different vehicles.
Tenders for production numbers of the vehicles closed in October 1983. This tender called for 2500 1 ton and 400 2 ton vehicles to be produced over a three to four year period commencing in May 1986 with initial vehicles. The volume of the vehicles were to be delivered beginning in May 1987. Six basic types of the 1 ton and three types of the 2 ton were specified.
Although these vehicles were based on civilian specifications, the Army vehicles differed in regard to the provision of Army fittings and equipment, the level of Australian content, and the severity of vehicle operations.
An interesting side note is the fact that 2 years after the 3 competing vehicles were entered into service, and before they were authorised for disposal, 2 registrations after the nine 4x4 vehicles were allocated to 2 Base Workshop for trials of two LWB Toyota Landcruisers. From here, history tells the story. The Land rover was the eventual winner for both contracts, and they have been going strong ever since, including a full rebuild to extend their service life in around 2006. So now a closer look at the competitors.
REMLR obviously contains a great deal of information about the eventual winner of Project Perentie, the Land Rover 110. You can access that information in the Perentie Index.
The images below are of one of the Project vehicles, 37-826, which survives today in the Army Museum Bandiana.
The chassis numbers of the 4x4 vehicles are nominally 400002, 400003 & 400004. However 3 were built for the Army and one for Land Rover Australia, but one was damaged in a crash (400004 ) on the way to be delivered and had it's identity swapped with the LRA vehicle 400001. The Trials 4x4 vehicles were imported from the UK as as CBU (Completely Built Up) vehicles with UK Vins. However they were then stripped down and completely rebuilt on Australian Chassis with 4BD1's and LT95 gearboxes. Naturally there was a raft of Australian Equipment fitted at the same time and given an Australian Vin number. However along the way their Vin Numbers were changed once again to the numbers seen on the vehicles today.
The 6x6 vehicles chassis numbers were 600002, 600003 and 600004. 600005 which was the LRA reference vehicle still exists and is owned by LRA. It is registered as a company vehicle. However, the vehicle is now a wide cab crew cab, having been converted from the original narrow cab reference vehicle into the prototype wide cab and subsequently into the prototype crew cab, now donated to the Army Museum Bandiana.
For more information on the Trials and Prototypes vehicles, visit the Trials, Prototype and Land Rover Development Vehicles page.
Land Rover had no 2 ton vehicle within it's fleet, so in order to submit a vehicle to the Army tender, first they needed to create one!
Development began with a couple of series 3 vehicles converted to 6x6, Later came a Sandringham 6x6 (Series II, Stage 1 based) that was imported from England. This 6x6 was a coil sprung vehicle, however it was determined that this configuration was not suitable. Rumour has it that it was broken within 48 hours of the commencement of testing. Eventually this vehicle had it's chassis replaced with an Australian built unit to overcomes the problems found with it, although it retained it's original VIN.
All of the developed "Perentie" 6x6 vehicles had a slightly wider rear and the normal front end. However once Land rover won the 1 and 2 ton categories they requested that a wider cab for the 6x6 vehicles be developed for the production models.
Like the 4x4, there were 4 trials vehicles built. Three for the trials, and one for Land Rover Australia. It was the Land Rover vehicle that was converted to the first true "Wide Cab" vehicle, along it's way to becoming a Dual cab vehicle, Which incidentally is still owned by Land Rover. It is understood that the other prototype vehicles were eventually destroyed. The fate of the trials vehicle is mixed. Obviously Land Rover has one, and the Army Museum Bandiana has another, whoever the other 2 are of unknown location and condition as of early 2011.
If you have any information or images about the Mercedes Benz vehicle that tool part in the trials, please let REMLR know.
Information about the AM10 Jeep are reasonably scarce and it is thought that at least one of the vehicles brought to Australia survives today in Australia. This vehicle appears to be a development on the civilian J10 Jeep ute. It is thought one of the reasons that the Jeep failed in it's attempt to secure the contract was it's automatic gearbox which was considered inadequate, and apparently axle breakages were also common on the trials. However the Jeep was automatically excluded because of it's petrol engine, and the requirements were for a diesel.
A very similar variant of the same vehicle was accepted and uses in US Airforce service.
The photographs below are from Jeep Action Magazine and further information from them about this vehicle will be arriving soon.
This is a rough chronology of the development of the military "Perentie" 110.