Article written by Les Lawrence re Military Service 107 Station Wagons and Bonallack vehicles
The British Royal Navy was the first military purchaser of station wagons, purchasing 6, 8706 series, in June 1956 and a further 24,1318 series in late 1957. The first 5 are recorded as painted Royal blue and cream whilst the latter were all Royal blue. With one exception which was dispatched to Newcastle, all were sent to RN stores at Clayton. (Exactly which Clayton is unclear, I can find four on the map and none are particularly near the sea)
Their roles are generally unclear with the exception of two; 131800015 was based at RNAS Culdrose and was used to transport air crew and equipment to and from a helicopter landing area at Lizard Peninsula in the South West of England. 131800023 had a table fitted in the back in place of one rear seat and a hinged panel in one of the small rear windows, possibly to allow cables through, suggesting its role in life may have been connected with radio or surveillance.
Discounting minor modifications in service, the vehicles appear to have been very standard and have none of the factory modifications that were common to the utility series one trucks used by the British Army.
The 107SW never found favour with the British Army, although three 1317 models were sent to FVRDE (Fighting Vehicle Research & Development Establishment) during 1957. A photograph of an earlier 8706 model with military registration exists although no direct trace of this vehicle can be made through the dispatch books, suggesting that it was supplied via the ministry of supply who were one of the largest purchasers of the SW in 1956 or was a factory demonstrator. Unlike the Naval vehicles, this exhibits many common Army fittings such as the trailer socket with the cover attached by a chain, the NATO style towing jaw as well as rear bumperettes and mounting points for a spade.
John Mastrangelo informs me that the British Army also ordered some SW in 1956. Known to the military as Land Rover Mk4 19 RHD (870600010 -870600055) 42BR25 – 42BR43 and 1LHD 873600392 (42BR44) This last vehicle was only decommissioned on 30 June 1977 – in Poland! ( I sense there is an interesting story here)
Overseas military orders were received however, the Arab Legion of the Jordan Army took delivery of 32 in December 1956 and a further 25 in 1958. Another photograph shows a number of vehicles in Madrid taking part in the 1957 Spanish civil war parade and whilst no reference of them can be found in the dispatch books, an order of 20 in 1958 does exist. All the above were supplied in the standard grey, but 29 were dispatched to Burma in olive drab during 1958.
It has been known that a number of ambulances were built on the station wagon chassis for the War Department in the UK by the coach building firm Bonallack. When going through the dispatch books I was surprised at how few appear to have been made, only finding entries of eighteen being supplied to the firm between 1956 and 57. There is no indication if these were sent as complete vehicles or as chassis/ cab units, although all were supplied painted with the exception of the last three which were in primer.
The ARAMCO vehicles
The largest order of station wagons came in 1958 when the oil company ordered 196 LHD vehicles, which went to Saudi Arabia. The bulk of these were painted red with a few in brilliant white, according to the dispatch books.
As a result of this note, which I posted on the net I was contacted by Jon Dorr of Vintage LandRovers , an American company,in 2002. He had at the time just been to Saudi and sent me some picture of some of these vehicles parked up in what looked like a breakers yard. The red paint now a faded orange. At the time he was trying to negotiate their purchase and shipping back to the USA. What became of the project or Jon Dorr I shall never know. I never heard from him again and his company website disappeared from the Web.