Counterfeit Camel


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While the Freelander may not be the most obvious choice for a Camel Trophy build, Alexander’s project is a testament to the versatility of Land Rovers and the passion of their owners : credit: © Jerome Andre
Alexander Messenger’s plucky Freelander three-door keeps the Trophy spirit alive

As a Land Rover enthusiast, the Freelander 1 may not be the first vehicle that comes to mind when you think of the Camel Trophy. However, for me, it was the perfect canvas for my dream build. I bought the base Freelander in September 2020 in Tewkesbury and began modifying it to look like a Camel Trophy vehicle at my home in Chippenham, Wiltshire.

Green Oval nut Alexander has turned his dream into a reality

​​​​​​My love for Land Rovers began with my family’s 1984 2.5 diesel One Ten, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon this Freelander on Autotrader that I became interested in owning one myself. To be honest, I had fallen for the typical bias having had a Defender. I decided I’d give it a go and made the trip by train to see it (I had no car at the time as my previous one had been sold). I took it for a road test and really liked the drive, although I could tell it needed work to get it perfect. But I was drawn to the Freelander’s three-door styling and purchased it on a whim for £2000 after haggling it down by £500.

Base Freelander was bought in 2020 for £2000

Interior colour-coded wrapped parts look smart

I love it as it truly represents what I want from a vehicle. It’s one of a kind and it’s amazing to know that I am possibly the only person in the world with a Freelander like it. It’s great fun to drive and takes me anywhere I want to go without issue. I knew as soon as I got it that I wanted to modify it in some way, but had no idea the huge community behind them and how much of a following they had. My friend and I decided to give greenlaning a try, and it was evident that the Freelander was far more capable than his soft-roader Mazda CX-5. It was great fun to get out and about and see what we, and the vehicles, could do.

Alexander’s YouTube channel, TrackCraft Performance, hosts some great Freelander content

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Since then, I have also used my Freelander for daily driving, and attending shows and events such as Spring Action Day, Forge Action Day and Halloween Action Day. I also started doing YouTube videos of our trips, and it has grown into what it has become today. I started out as AA Off Road, but when my friend couldn’t maintain a common appearance on the channel, I changed the name to TrackCraft Performance, to which I upload videos about my Freelander and the adventures we go on, as well as projects and updates I have on the go with other vehicles.

So far £4k has been spent on mods but he’s still got a way to go until he’s happy

Soon after the greenlaning began, I decided I wanted to start doing tutorials and have since done many videos covering them, as well as modifications and upgrades using standard parts from other vehicles. I have invested over £4000 in the project so far, including £500 for new tyres at the end of last year. However, most of the items have come from several companies who have kindly sponsored me to help complete various aspects of the project, including Raptor Paint, Barbarian Racing, Malian Exhausts, Zombie Tints and Wraps, Car Mod Shop, Energized Customs, and Allisport. A big thanks to them.

Regarding modifications, I am currently in the process of arranging a Camel Trophy Freelander light pod to go onto the roof and am very excited to be getting this. I am also hunting for a roof rack. I’m planning to fit Dobinsons suspension springs and some Monroe adventure shock absorbers but, with a limited budget, it may be a long while.

I want to go through the transmission system and replace the IRD and VCU with Bell Engineering reconditioned units and a Quaife Engineering rear limited-slip differential for max performance off-road, but funding is keeping this at bay for now. Despite the limited budget, I am very happy with the project and the journey it has taken me on. I have learned so much and met fantastic people along the way. I hope my Freelander will be a faithful representation of the original Camel Trophy Freelander but with modern upgrades.


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