Meet the 25-year-old amphibious Land Rover


floating Discovery

The humble Land Rover Discovery celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and to commemorate such an occasion, the British marque has unveiled a limited 'XXV Special Edition' Disco.
> But rewind back to 1990, the year Margaret Thatcher handed over to John Major, the year we first laid eyes on Mr Bean and the year we all put down our beef burgers in an attempt to avoid mad cow disease. It was also the year Land Rover expanded its range with a truly capable off-road machine that could happily double-up as an everyday family vehicle.

To celebrate the original launch and raise awareness of the Disco's prowess, Roger Crathorne, Technical PR Manager for Land Rover at the time, decided to create an amphibious vehicle and float it around the Solent during Cowes Week.

"We knew when Discovery was launched, we'd have a new customer base and a lot of those would be from the boating fraternity," Roger revealed to AOL Cars.

"We decided to sponsor Cowes Week for five years and in 1990 we turned a Discovery into an amphibious vehicle. We'd be on the water all the time, giving some of our potential customers a trip around the Solent."

Fortunately for Roger and his team of engineers, the British Army had already converted around 28 Land Rovers so they could float across bodies of water with ease. All Roger and his team had to do was borrow one and copy the design.

"We actually took things one step further with the amphibious vehicle you see here today as we ran a hydraulic pump off the Discovery's drivetrain, so the propeller and rudder are all driven from the standard car," explains Roger.

floating Discovery

Over 25 years on and the amphibious Discovery is still going strong, with only a cupful of water entering the vessel as we sail around Lake Geneva. The Disco uses giant air sacks that are attached to the flanks, front and rear of the vehicle, to stabilise it in the water. Apart from a small joystick that controls the rudder and a throttle lever for propeller power, it looks just like the interior of any old Discovery.

"There isn't too much maintenance on these things, we have to take it out of the water every now and then to check we haven't got any water in the timing cover or the flywheel housing. We simply drive it out of the lake via the ramp, remove some drain plugs and then go again," Roger says.

Despite only managing five or six knots on the water, the amphibious 4x4 attracted quite a bit of attention when it was originally paraded on the Solent.

"A guy wanted to buy one of these during Cowes Week. He was an entrepreneur with a lot of money and a lot of toys. He asked us to build one but unfortunately it didn't happen," explains Roger.

Believe it or not, despite the amphibious Discovery's age and watery past, it flew through an MOT just last week.

"Once the inflatable air sacks are removed, it looks just like an ordinary vehicle.

"Well, an ordinary vehicle with a propeller attached to the back of it."

Read about the 25th anniversary Land Rover Discovery HERE