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Strange Rover by Alvin Smith...


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Hi,

In the late 80s (I think) there was a serious piece of kit around called the 'Strange Rover' that was built by Alvin Smith Garages. They had a RRC chassis with the engine & transmission turned about so that they were behind the driver (the gear lever was still in the same place, but with a reversed pattern). The front and rear axles were then turned upside down to correct the direction of travel. The whole thing was then topped off by an enormously beefy tubular space frame with aluminium infill panels that together formed the minimalist bodywork. This effectively made a Land Rover based, mid-engined off-road racer which looked the dogs danglies <_<

Thinking about these last night (have to do something when I can't sleep :ph34r: ) and I was wondering:

Does anybody still run one of these?

Why did the concept not catch on - is it not as good off-road as a standard layout?

Anybody got any pictures of them?

Cheers

TwoSheds

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Thre was one racing with the AWDC a couple of years ago, it looked in reasonable nick so should be around somewhere. I think I only saw it at Sidbury so it may have been a SCOR entrant.

I would say the concept did catch on, Simmonites produced a very similar vehicle which developed into the Simmbugghinni, early Warriors were the same except Robin developed a reverse rotation transfer box so you didn't need to turn the axles. In time these vehicles had space frames but the early ones had a RR chassis. Some Bowlers were also built with rear engines.

The availability of good shock absorbers has meant that the advantages of rear engined over front engined racers have reduced.

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Thre was one racing with the AWDC a couple of years ago, it looked in reasonable nick so should be around somewhere. I think I only saw it at Sidbury so it may have been a SCOR entrant.

I would say the concept did catch on, Simmonites produced a very similar vehicle which developed into the Simmbugghinni, early Warriors were the same except Robin developed a reverse rotation transfer box so you didn't need to turn the axles. In time these vehicles had space frames but the early ones had a RR chassis. Some Bowlers were also built with rear engines.

The availability of good shock absorbers has meant that the advantages of rear engined over front engined racers have reduced.

Yep they are still about, some had austrian 4.4 V8s in them.

They were for their time cutting edge Alvin being a clever b*gger and all that, he also built a TR7 bodyed RR and the Aliquat, which was terrifying quick, all ali tube work - work of art.

Starnge Rovers now are going to be VERY heavy in the field of the space frame racers, but they were well built and quick, lots of handmade parts, and this puts many off. I know of one that was road legal, with the 4x4 in it, was owned for a while by KCC / Mike Wolfe, then sold to a Racer chap called "Gerbil" and since then not sure where it went....

If you can find one then they are old but potentially a lot of fun for the money, the 4.4 will probably not be in them as those that had them were often sold without the engine or with a 3.5 / 3,.9 shoved in :)

Nige

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Hi,

In the late 80s (I think) there was a serious piece of kit around called the 'Strange Rover' that was built by Alvin Smith Garages. They had a RRC chassis with the engine & transmission turned about so that they were behind the driver (the gear lever was still in the same place, but with a reversed pattern). The front and rear axles were then turned upside down to correct the direction of travel. The whole thing was then topped off by an enormously beefy tubular space frame with aluminium infill panels that together formed the minimalist bodywork. This effectively made a Land Rover based, mid-engined off-road racer which looked the dogs danglies <_<

Thinking about these last night (have to do something when I can't sleep :ph34r: ) and I was wondering:

Does anybody still run one of these?

Why did the concept not catch on - is it not as good off-road as a standard layout?

Anybody got any pictures of them?

Cheers

TwoSheds

IIRC what you refer to was the Strange Rover II - the original was a RR chassis with a Triumph TR7 body on it!!

I know where there is a rolling chassis ( or was about 3 months ago ) just crying out for a bit of a rebuild. It was this vehicle that inspired the design of my own racer in about 1990. I simply joined a 5.7l Chevy 350 to a RR box and picked the whole thing up and turned it around in the chassis.

They would be very heavy compared to modern offroad racers now but certainly still competitive at a club level. The concept is far from dead as it works perfectly and today virtually all of the top offroad race cars use a very similar design: Simbugghini / Mattseratti / Milner ProTruck / Guy Smith 306GSR / Warrior eyc. even Tomcat, 3M and other more LR based manufacturers offer a mid engined frame option...

Anyone remember the sort of Mk 3 version - the Aliquat - looked similar but was smaller. lighter and Porsche powered?

David

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Aliquat was on the AWDC site for £5k which tempted me. A friend who knows better than me said that was his sons car, Clint, rather than his original one.

A chap I went to school with built a Strange Rover 2 in the late 80's, that was on the road 'TUR 39' IIRC but I think he kept the plate when he sold it. I can't remember how much work he had to do, a fair bit I think.

And here is SR1

StrangeRover1.jpg

I recall seeing a picture of it at a petrol station with a normal TR7 at the other pump, well cool :D

It's worth remembering at this time fitting a set of SAT's was considered ultimate and extreme ;)

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There are two strange rovers in scor.

That or one team sold it to another but two lads race it and were doing well last time I went to a meeting

They always look very heavy to me but thats jsut me :)

Jules (at Ali's house)

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Hi folks.

It was/is fast, I was givin a quick spin down the road by Alvin himself way back in the beginning off the 90'ties, I have so far not yet been in such a quick "Comper" not even a rear engined V8 with 300+ fels like it.

As far as I remember it had VW syncro driving gear, the uprights was 16v VW Golf ones i was told at that time.

If I had the funds I would go get it.

Kind regards

Ole.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 13 years later...

Hi there 

I suppose this thread is no longer active, but I saw the mention of "strange rover" and, well, thats the name of the racer my dad drove back in the day. I have some photos of the racer, although I don't know how to attach them here. says its by Alvin Smith on the front. dunno if it's the same one though.

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Friends used to race them and in their day they were the thing to have until new ideas came along.

Rear engined racers (not just these) are interesting to race as over jumps the rear wants to over take the front on landing which led to some horrific crashes on faster courses.

Aliquat is in this old video from my era plus a couple of StrangeRover2.

Aliquat was a victim of its own making unfortunately as the Ali part of the name relates to its Aluminium space frame and roll cage which were banned in competition shortly afterwards IIRC. The on one the link has the photos of the ali space frame but the full vehicle appears to have a std steel space frame or possibly just a second steel roll cage added?

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Glad you liked it, it was my first major marshalling role. I had marshalled many AWDC Trials and Comps before but not one with such public focus.

Weirdly my friend bought a comp motor a year later that turned out to be one of the dead motors I recovered and caught on camera.

After this I marshalled the Southern Hill Rally and assisted at the first Europa Truck Trial in France.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ask and you shall receive...

 

From memory (very dim and distant...) this was taken at an AWDC event at Bordon - I’d hesitate to put a date to this but I’d dragged my Dad along and suspect it was early 80’s, possibly even ‘79 as the photos are all in B&W and I would have printed these at school...

 

Photo of the mud run included just for a laugh... pretty wet, pretty spectacular!

7DC418EF-D6A6-45A5-AA61-4DA2FB8CA66A.jpeg

E1A533D6-25F0-41E6-89A2-469106BDB131.jpeg

Edited by LiftedDisco
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  • 1 month later...
On 1/16/2021 at 8:42 AM, missingsid said:

Aliquat is in this old video from my era plus a couple of StrangeRover2.

Land Rover on one side (passenger side down)...
Marshall: "Are you ok?"
Driver: "yes ok - no problem"
Marshall: "Is you co-driver ok down there?"
<little squeeky sound from the passenger seat>
Driver (firmly): "She's fine"

:D :D :D 

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