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Camel Trophy Discovery - Discovery of a real gem

Nick Boy

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The other post seems to have been deleted, here is the original article. This is pretty unbelievable:

I discovered her in a secondhand car lot along Old Klang Road in 1999. She was in ash gold, looked tired; the car dealer told me that the manual 1992 Discovery 200 Tdi was pre-owned by a timber tycoon, never gone off road (understatement of the Century)!

I bought her anyway because she had extra safety features like bull bar, winch and an unusual looking, well padded roll cage.

I named her Oro, Spanish for gold because she was to work in my gold mine in Trengganu.

Like all good old Landrovers, Oro stalled on our first trip out near Bentong, a burnt main bearing was the cause!

Two months later the turbo gave way, the turbo repair mechanic, noticing the roll cage, told me that Oro looked like one of the original Camel Trophy Discovery, which Land Rover Malaysia gave away as lucky draws after the 1993 Sabah CT.

I traced the previous owner from the car register, who told me that he bought the vehicle from a Malay chap who won her in a lucky draw. So Oro was indeed one of the CT competition vehicles! For city use he had discarded the original Camel Trophy roof rack complete with the spot lights and the CT emblem!

After a frantic 2 weeks search and negotiation, I managed to buy back from the scrap yard the original roof rack, sand ladder, jerry can, exhaust air jack. I soon refitted the accessories and painted Oro in CT colour, completed with stickers reproduced by a fellow LROM member.

Oro in her true colours was presented proudly to our fellow members during the 2003 LROM AGM at Fraser’s Hill.

The following information about Camel Trophy Sabah 1993 was taken from the web.

1993 Sabah-Malaysia

Route: Circum navigation, Kota Kinabalu to Kota Kinabalu

Distance: 1,500 km

Teams: United States, France, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands, Canary Islands, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Russia, Malaysia, Japan

Winner: United States (Tim Hensley & Michael Hussey)

Team Spirit Award: Canary Islands (Ellis Martin & Francisco Zarate)

Special Tasks Award: France (Paul Gasser & Loup Tournand)

Oro had served me well, been working hard in the mines, and had taken part in many LROM events.

She was noisy on the road; especially annoying was the consistent rattle from the partly bent bull bar, sounded like some rock chips were trapped inside. As I took pride in Oro’s battle scar, the bull bar was left untouched.

Her transfer box died on me during the special stage at the LROM Kuala Kubu Baru Merdeka meet in 2004. I had her limped back to Kuala Lumpur where she had been garaged since.

Last week, to prepare for the coming LROM 10th anniversary event at Cameron Highlands, I engaged Ismail the LR mechanic at Jalan Unversiti to fix Oro. I decided to repair the bull bar to rid that irritating rattle once and for all.

Guess what I found inside the damaged bar?

Diamonds! A handful of diamonds!

Close examination show that the small rough stones are partially rounded, which point to alluvial in origin (i.e. recovered from river beds).

A quick check at the geological archives on North Borneo (as Sabah was called in the colonial days) shows that government geologists did find diamonds in the Kinabatangan and Kuamut rivers. In a letter dated 1886 the British Museum had confirmed a sample sent by the District Officer of Kuamut as “true blue ground” (a form of weathered kimberlite which is the source of alluvial diamonds in South Africa).

But how could so many small diamonds get themselves lodged in the damaged bull bar of Oro?

I can only present two possibilities:

1. That the competition crew who drove Oro found a diamond bearing spot on a river bar, secretly panned the diamonds, and hid them in the bull bar tubes hoping to recover them upon their return to the city, but somehow was unable to do so before Oro was taken off them.

2. Oro had crashed in one of the stony river crossings, had her bull bar damaged and trapped between river boulders. The swift current swept river pebbles into the fractured bull bar. The crew, to save time, just welded back the bars upon recovery without removing the trapped pebbles.

Whichever the scenario, the 1993 Camel Trophy expedition must have crossed a very rich diamond bearing river in Sabah!

I can never imagine that buying a used, battled down Land Rover Discovery could lead to the discovery of diamonds!

Discovery, what a gem of a name!

Here was the diamonds found:


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