Desert veteran


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Charlie with the One Ten alongside his Defender daily driver : credit: © Craig Pusey
The expedition One Ten owned in the 1980s by veteran desert explorer Squadron Leader Tom Sheppard MBE certainly has a tale to tell…

Charlie Baron’s daily driver is a 2004 Defender 90 Td5 but, like most of us, he always knew that one Land Rover was never going to be enough. There are already others in the family: dad Rupert drives a 2012 110 station wagon and also has an immaculate 1958 Series II that was restored by DLR in 2018 and won the Best Restoration class at the Land Rover Legends show in 2019.

Charlie decided early last year that it was time he acquired an older Land Rover as well, something interesting and preferably with a V8 under the bonnet. An early Range Rover classic was the initial target, but that’s not quite how things worked out.

“I couldn’t find a decent Range Rover classic for my budget, and I didn’t want to take on a full rebuild,” Charlie tells me. “In February 2022 I chanced upon a V8 One Ten on the AutoTrader website and went to have a look. I could see it was something interesting and it was in excellent shape with less than 50,000 genuine miles on the clock, so I didn’t hesitate. It had a V8 and ticked all the boxes, and it was parked up outside my home by the end of the month.

The discovery that would confirm the One Ten as Tom Sheppard’s expedition vehicle

“There were a number of modifications that initially caught my attention, particularly in the rear tub, and when I removed the spare wheel well from the load bay ahead of the rear wheels, I found it had the name ‘Tom Shepperd’ and ‘Hitchin’ written on it. I posted something on the Stage Two Register Facebook page and somebody pointed out that desert explorer Tom Sheppard had owned a One Ten V8 at some point. Could ‘Tom Shepperd’ have really been the Tom Sheppard?

SALLDHAV1AA201726 was built at Solihull in late September 1983 and the chassis number indicates that it was a Basic model with either a truck cab, hard top or full-length canvas tilt. Finished in Limestone, it was delivered to dealer Mann Egerton of Whetstone and registered on 7 October 1983 with the cherished number plate THS 8.

In fact, it was delivered with a full-length soft top and its new owner was indeed Squadron Leader Tom Sheppard MBE, who by the early 1980s was already a highly experienced and respected veteran of numerous desert expeditions. Tom’s desert explorations on four wheels and two would continue until relatively recently, when the unfolding geopolitical situation made such expeditions all but impossible.

Tom’s original Union Flags are still in place on the doors

Tom had led the 1975 Joint Services West East Sahara Expedition, which used four military Forward Control 101s to make the first crossing of the Sahara from west to east (see LRM April 2016). We wrote about Tom’s fascinating life as an RAF fast jet and test-pilot, author, photographer, and lifelong desert explorer in LRM Winter 2020.

Notably, Tom also owned one of the pre-production Velars, the much-modified YVB 173H, which he’d bought directly from Land Rover in 1971. He used it for several desert expeditions, famously removing its roof so he could navigate using his specially made, one-off, translucent version of the WW2 Coles sun compass, backed-up by theodolite star shots and dead-reckoning.

The Velar had carried Tom’s cherished number THS 8 before this registration was transferred to his new One Ten, and the DVLA issued the age-related plate ANM 21H to the Velar before Tom sold it in 1983. It was last heard of in Hampshire in the early noughties but hasn’t been taxed for the road since 1990. It would be interesting to know if the Velar survives, but Tom was very pleased to learn from Charlie that his old V8 One Ten is very much still with us, and he was delighted to confirm the various modifications that he had made to the vehicle. Tom also went to great lengths to locate and scan some of his wonderful 35mm colour slides of the expeditions.

Tom had some custom storage fittings fabricated for his journeys

Original spare wheel mount fitted the Michelin XS, but Charlie’s choice of tyre means the spare is strapped to the floor

“At that time, I was employed by British Aerospace in their Civil Aircraft Division,” Tom tells me, “and some of the company’s apprentices completed a number of bespoke modifications to the One Ten to my specifications. They fabricated and fitted some special lockers into the arches of the rear tub to utilise the wasted space ahead of the rear wheels. One of these was covered with a bespoke lid and the other was turned into a well for a spare wheel.

Neat battery cut-off switch mounted on the nearside seat box. Tom’s handwritten labels still in place

​​​​​​“There was also a battery cut-off in the left-hand seatbox, home-made lower door trim cards, and several other modifications to the load space including a 200-litre lorry fuel tank that was mounted behind the seats to ensure optimum weight distribution. The tank took up less space than ten jerrycans and was not plumbed-in to the vehicle’s fuel system, but instead allowed fuel to be siphoned into jerrycans for transfer to the standard tank.

“Above the truck tank was a stowage tray, and aft of it was a bespoke wooden tray that filled the space between the wheelarches, the truck tank and the tailgate, which had customised lashing points for securing cargo stowage boxes.

Charlie has plans to reinstall some hood sticks

“I used the One Ten on two desert expeditions. The first was in 1983-84 and was an exploration of the Ahnet Massif area, northwest of Tamanrasset in the Central Sahara, and we covered over 5100 miles, of which around 500 were off-track. I was accompanied by Geoff Renner, who had been a geophysicist in the British Antarctic Survey and also a veteran of the 1975 West East Sahara expedition, where he was responsible for completing a coast-to-coast gravity survey. Knowing that we’d be spending Christmas in the desert, Geoff memorably produced from his baggage a fold-out Christmas tree and a Fortnum and Mason’s cake to celebrate the day!

“Magnetic compasses are virtually useless in the varying magnetic and electrical fields of a motor vehicle, never mind the extremes of magnetic variation which can reach as much as 25 degrees error in parts of Africa. The Coles sun compass was ingeniously developed during World War Two for mounting on the bonnets of cut-down trucks, and I’d had one made while I was working at Farnborough as a test pilot, and used it on several expeditions with my pre-pro Range Rover.

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Reflecting on the adventures this One Ten has been through

“Odometers can be checked and calibrated and, with the sun compass, provide the ingredients of dead-reckoning aerial navigation. But this is only as good as the steering and log-keeping. Modern navigators are gratefully spoiled by satnav, and on the 1983-84 expedition we had the loan of an early Magnavox unit which, given 10-15 minutes of stationary peace to do its sums, would yield a fix good to a quarter mile. Knowing the Algerian gendarmerie’s susceptibility to paranoia, we hid it in the cubby box between the front seats.

“The second expedition was in 1987, this time to the Amadel-n-Anir massif, Tiouiene, and Tidikmar northeast, northwest and southwest of Tamanrasset, which totalled over 5400 miles including 300 miles off-track. On one of the expeditions, I remember having issues with the vehicle running-on after the ignition had been turned off, and I concluded this was probably caused by poor quality Algerian petrol.”

The circumstances around the fitting of this later V8 remain shrouded in mystery

Charlie has tried to find out what happened to the vehicle after Tom parted with it shortly after the second expedition. “One outstanding mystery concerns the replacement of the engine and gearbox,” Charlie tells me. “The vehicle was originally fitted with a 14G- or 15G-prefix V8 and an LT95 gearbox. However, it is currently fitted with a 24G-series V8 and an LT85 with LT230 transmission, and the replacement engine has a Land Rover company build plate with a date of January 1987, which is the year that Tom completed his second Algerian expedition in the vehicle. Tom is very clear that the engine and gearbox weren’t replaced when he had the truck, so the mystery remains unresolved.

Tacho shows surprisingly low mileage

“Before Tom sold it, the One Ten was given an age-related registration number by the DVLA and eventually moved down to Surrey with its new custodian, who seems to have had it for around ten years. It was then acquired by its third owner and remained in the Surrey area for another 20 years, until it was sold again in 2021. At some point it was fitted with a truck-cab and an aftermarket Ifor Williams canopy hard top. I think one of the people who had it in Surrey might have been in the equestrian line, because it had a horseshoe on the radiator grille and when I acquired it there were still various tools knocking around in the back that made me wonder if it might have been owned by a farrier. It would be nice to know more, and if any readers can help, I’d be pleased to hear from them.

“The owner who acquired it in 2021 was an HGV driver from Chorleywood, but he seems to have done very little to the vehicle and owned it for less than a year before offering it for sale. He certainly had no idea of its history and provenance.

“Since acquiring it in February last year, I have focused on tidying it up, improving it in places, and making it a little more suitable for modern usage. I replaced the awful Lucas sealed beam units with modern LEDs and fitted a replacement exhaust system that certainly flatters the V8. I fitted replacement rims and tyres, although at some point the wheels will benefit from a repaint in the correct Limestone colour.

Original channel crossing sticker still survives

“The undercarriage was cleaned and treated to a coat of Dinitrol, and I also fitted a removeable steering wheel, purely for security reasons. Most of the paintwork is original and responded well to a bit of elbow grease, and everyone says how wonderful the patina is. Remarkably, the Union flags that were put on the doors by Tom are still in place, as is his Sealink Ferries GB sticker on the rear.

“The history file is impressive from 1997 onwards, but there is a distinct gap for the ten years after Tom sold it, which probably indicates that the second owner was sadly the type who never bothered to keep any of the invoices, tax discs, MoTs and other paperwork that most of us like to see. Nevertheless, the indicated mileage is supported by the documentation that has survived.

One Ten looks and sounds superb. There are plans to reinstate the hood hoops and full-length tilt

“One of the first things I did after acquiring the One Ten was remove the Ifor Williams canopy from the rear, but having driven it for a year with the non-original truck cab I’ve decided that when funds permit, I will take it back to the configuration it had when Tom took delivery of it in 1983. I also removed the spare wheel mounts on the bonnet, which I presume were a replacement fitted at some stage after Tom’s ownership.

“And, of course, it will need a recreation of Tom’s original fume curtain that was secured to the bulkhead behind the seats. Whether I go so far as to fit a truck fuel tank remains to be seen, although with fuel consumption coming in at around 14mpg it would certainly be a handy thing to have!”

See the One Ten in action on our LRM YouTube channel here.


Tom Sheppard’s books are available directly from him at


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