Sometimes, when I am asked to write about a car, I do so with dread. It’s not that I don’t like writing or that I don’t like cars – I like both things very much. It’s when asked to write about a car that I know nothing about that the dread kicks in. There is an assumption that, because I am a motoring journalist (allegedly), I must know everything about every car. Not true. Like many people, I know about what interests me mostly. For example, I have good knowledge of cars that I’ve driven or owned over the years, as well as those that were around when I was in my formative years. Ask me to write about the Gaylord Gladiator (no, I haven't made such a car up) and I will struggle.
When I'm tasked with writing about something I have no previous experience of, it involves research on the internet. And that’s where the problems start. It means a million differing views on something because, unlike me, there are a lot of people out in internet land who seem to relish writing stuff about stuff they know absolutely nothing about, then hitting ‘send’. This muddies the waters into a thick, brown, soup.
This car is different, though. Nic found it and, fair play, it is interesting. After all, it appears to be full-size Tamiya off-roader with a 50-callibre Browning stuck on top. That has to count as a very interesting cherry, stuck on the top of a very interesting cake. Yet, when I looked at what the internet has to say about to this very interesting vehicle, the answer was, surprisingly, not a lot.
This I found very interesting, too. Even more so when one of the few bits of information I did find was the MoD telling someone to 'sod off' when asked about the Ricardo Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) in a freedom of information request. The MoD actually wrote, ‘A search of our records has been completed but I regret that no information within the scope of your request is held,’ but that’s basically the same sentiment, and being told to sod off by the MoD is almost as interesting as a cat falling off a fence on YouTube.
While this LSV looks like the biggest of big boys’ toys, it isn’t a toy at all. The reason why the MoD doesn’t want to talk about it, is because this vehicle was built not simply to look like it could kill people, as with some of those wildly expensive tank things that people with an oil tap in their back garden buy. It was built to actually kill people, to death. Specifically, it was made to kill people while nipping about the desert in Gulf War I.
Whilst on tour in the Gulf, there would be an SAS man at the helm, with another manning that big gun shooting the bad guys. Presumably, the passenger seat would be taken by another SAS fella, who would lean casually out the side snapping the necks of more baddies as they passed by. That, by the way, is pure speculation on my part. That's the joy of writing about a car no one knows anything about – my mind can speculate wildly and nobody can dispute anything, beginning with that immortal line, 'Actually, I think you'll find that...'
What isn’t speculation, because the advert says it’s true, is that this actual car was owned by Bear Grylls. This is also very interesting and makes total sense. Why wouldn’t Mr. Grylls have owned this car? It’s right up his street and, as he was previously a member of 21 SAS troop, this may have once been his company car. Don’t forget, we’re talking about a man who only left the SAS because he jumped out of a plane and his parachute failed to open. A hiccup like that would kill mere mortals like you and me, but not the man they call Bear. 18 months later, he was seen planting a flag – with the words ‘I was here’ – at the top of Mount Everest.
But getting back to this car, rather than its previous owner, it makes slightly less interesting reading to hear that it’s fitted with Volkswagen mechanicals. This includes the suspension, which encompasses trailing arms, torsion bars, but a set of coilovers. The 1.9-litre, water-cooled flat-four is from the Volkswagen T25 transporter as well. That does rather jar with the He-Man looks and SAS back story, and while we're on the subject, the four-speed ‘box isn’t quite in the Mission Impossible catalogue of gadgetry, either. But then you could argue that its humdrum mechanicals only make it even cooler. The SAS are so lethal that they don’t need V16 tanks or laser-powered thingamajigs to conquer rogue states; a flat-four with four-on-the-floor will do.
One thing’s for certain, you would’ve needed some mighty balls to go into battle in a completely naked car, even with that 50-cal to scare off the bad guys. There’s not exactly a lot of protection, should, say, the gunner be looking left while a man with an AK-47 was to the right letting off a few rounds. You’d need big whatnots to spend £50,000 on what appears to be a kit car with a Transporter engine, too, but it’s a lot more than that. It’s one of the most interesting cars we’ve ever seen on PH, in fact, and if anyone on the internet disagrees, they definitely don’t know what they’re talking about.
SPECIFICATION | Ricardo Light Strike Vehicle
Engine: Classified (but likely a 1,913cc, flat four, naturally aspirated)
Transmission: Classified (but likely a four-speed manual, four-wheel drive)
Power (hp): Classified
Torque (lb ft): Classified
Recorded mileage: Classified
Year registered: Classified (but likely 1990)
Price new: Classified
Yours for: Classified (but likely £50,000)
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