Sometimes things come along where you have to look twice, and then you’re not sure if your eyes deceive you, half Land Rover and half tank certainly risks whiplash for that second glance as the brain thinks ‘eh’?
Conceived back in 1978 by Laird (Anglesey) Ltd the Centaur Truck joined the Alvis Scorpion light tank running gear for the rear tracks to the front leaf sprung Land Rover fitted with the 3.5ltr V8 engine giving 132 bhp. Weighing in at just under four tons unladen and almost seven tons when fully kitted out, 5.7m long, 1.7m tall and 2m wide it has a top speed of fifty mph and was designed as a soft top, ‘Multi-Role Military Vehicle System’ able to be adapted for a missile platform, bomb disposal truck, command car or even an ambulance.
The first prototype was a right hand drive and test ran for three and a half thousand miles at the MIRA test track, proving success and reliability. It was then sent to Norway for three months arctic trials impressing the British Army with its capability then shipped to Libya for desert trials where it remained.
Prototype 2, again a right hand drive was fitted with a Oerlikon A41 cannon and sent on a sales tour of Africa later returning to the UK.
Prototype 3, again was a right hand drive and was tested with a hard top to fulfill the roll of a command post but was later converted back to a soft top.
Prototype 4, was made a left hand drive, fitted with two machine guns it was sent to Oman for testing and can still be seen at the Sultan’s Armed Forces Museum in Oman.
Prototype 5, a left hand drive was fitted with a Rheinmetall Cannon and sent to Germany and the Persian Gulf as a promotional vehicle.
This one can be seen in the Vehicle Conservation Center at the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset. For a chance to see it in action in their arena, check out their ‘what’s on’ button.
Prototype 6, again a left hand drive was sent to Iraq as a demonstration model. It was found twenty five years later by the US Army in north Baghdad, Iraq and rescued by the British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (R.E.M.E) who hold it in their R.E.M.E museum vehicle store in Bordon, Hampshire.
Prototype 7, a left hand drive was upgraded to a 110 front with coil springs and was the only Centaur painted military sand colour as a last attempt to attract orders. This can be seen with Prototype 5 at the Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset.
Although proven to be reliable in all environments and an effective vehicle platform for its chosen design rolls the orders never came in for Laird, so prototype 8 was never finished and the design concept was cancelled in 1985.
If you want to see the Centaur in the flesh, visit the Tank Museum, click here