- 1990 Longline Light Strike Vehicle
- Formerly owned by Ludovic Lindsay and Bear Grylls
- Restored to Gulf War specification with decommissioned Browning machine gun
- One of fewer than 20 examples known to have been built
This Longline Light Strike Vehicle is an extremely rare example of the type of machine that has been favoured by Special Forces since the Second World War. Small and fast, it was designed to operate behind enemy lines in a reconnaissance role, while still carrying enough armament to enable its occupants to be able to defend themselves when needed.
Resembling a military-spec dune buggy, the Longline LSV – later to become the Ricardo LSV following a company takeover – featured an exposed tubular chassis with sling points that enabled it to be airlifted by helicopter. It used modified Volkswagen suspension with trailing arms, torsion bars and coilovers, plus the 1.9-litre, water-cooled flat-four engine from the Volkswagen T25 transporter.
Driving through a manual four-speed gearbox, it was capable of well over 60mph and had a full-length skidplate to protect the mechanical components when traversing rough terrain. Weapons options that could be fitted included a machine gun, grenade launcher or the MILAN anti-tank missile system.
The Longline LSV was developed through three variants: the Mk1 was two-wheel drive; the Mk2 was four-wheel drive; and the Mk3 used a diesel Volkswagen engine in place of the original petrol unit. It’s thought that only 18 or 20 were built before requirements changed for Special Forces outfits and there was no longer a role for this type of LSV within the British military.
The vehicle being offered for sale was one of just five four-wheel-drive Mk2s that were built for the SAS in 1990 during the lead-up to the first Gulf War. Following the end of that conflict, it served with 24 Airmobile Brigade in 1991 and took part in that year’s Certain Shield NATO exercise.
It’s thought that the UK Ministry of Defence ordered only two small batches of Longline LSVs. This example was one of three that were subsequently released by the MOD in the late 1990s, and it was sold into private ownership via an auction at Aston Down in June 1997. Its original military registration was 03 KK 78 – it is now registered H341 OEE.
The history file includes an article from the March 2007 issue of Military Machines International, in which the owner explained that he rebuilt the engine – fitting a new Weber carburettor in the process – and returned the vehicle to Gulf War spec. A previous custodian had already carried out an extensive restoration process.
It then passed to well-known historics racer Ludovic Lindsay and was later owned by adventurer and broadcaster Bear Grylls, who served in the Territorial Army with 21 SAS during the 1990s.
Now fitted with a deactivated 50-calibre Browning heavy machine gun – the official deactivation certificate is supplied – this Longline LSV comes with a technical manual, archive photographs and a number of magazine articles. A rare sight even at specialist vehicle shows, it occupies a fascinating niche in military transport history and is a distinctive talking point wherever it goes.