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Around 1958, this unusual looking vehicle conversion was launched by James A Cuthbertson, of Biggar, in Scotland. It was designed to go further in adverse off-road conditions than the conventional Land Rover.

Series I Cuthbertson

Series I Cuthbertson
Series I Cuthbertson - Land Rover MK1. Pictures - James A. Cuthbertson Limited

In most cases, a standard Series II long wheelbase Land-Rover minus its wheels was dropped onto a sub-frame, and a track fixed around bogeys at each corner with a sprocket that replaces the Land Rover’s road wheels. The front tracks are steerable in the conventional way, the tracks turn as a whole for steering - aided by substantial power steering driven from the engine crankshaft pulley. However when 4-wheel drive is engaged, each track is powered at each corner with a different motion. This stops the side to side scrubbing of tracks when turning which tends to happen on conventional tracked vehicles.

The main advantage of this conversion was that it greatly reduced the vehicle's ground pressure, making it ideal for marshy and wet ground. The main problem was that it was poor at climbing 'steps' (i.e. banks) or over obstacles because the tracks lack the front "ramp" of typical tank tracks. The tracks would tend to spin if the Rover hit a steep bank whilst traversing marshy land. The height was both an advantage and a disadvantage. Ground clearance was increased, but stability was reduced.

Of the estimated 15 examples made, the last of these was thought to have been built around 1972, although the two pictures shown below may blow that idea out of the water!

These pictures were taken on Skye in 1983 by Richard Camidge. They show a short wheelbase Series III Cuthbertson style conversion on a 1976/77 R UK registration plate, painted in the British Telecom livery of the time. The vehicle was first registered in Inverness on the 1st December 1976 and was a 2286cc petrol model, according to DVLA records. The tracks and subframe appear to have been further developed over earlier examples, although this may indicate a different manufacturer. Any information on this conversion would be very much appreciated.

British Telecom Cuthbertson

British Telecom Cuthbertson

Series III Telecom tracked Land Rover pictures by Richard Camidge

Today, the Cuthbertson company continues to manufacture special vehicles, mainly building snowploughs and road gritters.

Watch some video on Cuthbertsons and Road/Railers

Lix Toll Land Rover's Cuthbertson tracked Series Land Rover.
Lix Toll Land Rover's Cuthbertson tracked Land Rover.

Gaydon's example of the Cuthbertson tracked Series Land Rover.

Heritage Motor Centre, Gaydon has an example of the Cuthbertson.

Closer view of the track arrangement.
A closer view of the track arrangement, lower wheels are rubber,
with a plastic or metal cover on the tyre walls.

Cuthbertson tracked Series Land Rover under test.
Cuthbertson under test with the military.

Cuthbertson tracked Series Land Rover under test.
Clearer view of the Cuthbertson mechanicals.

Cuthbertson tracked Series Land Rover under test.
Clearer view of the Cuthbertson mechanicals.

Lix Toll Cuthbertson
Lix Toll's Cuthbertson - Picture by Brian Murdoch.


A close up of the tracks on the Lix Toll Cuthbertson - Picture Brian Murdoch.

RAF Bomb Disposal Cuthbertson.

Geoffrey Powell wrote:

Looking at your site I came across Cuthbertson Landrover reg 76aa75. I have to tell you I was the driver of this vehicle in 1962 and we had a sister one but the number escapes me. I have an original photo, different angle. I drove it on Holbeach bombing range in Lincolnshire and I remember going on a special course to get a track laying vehicle license. I am 72 now and was on 5131 Bomb Disposal work, The problem with this vehicle and it happened to me, It had a long draw bar at the front and this was to enable it when towed was so the tow rope cleared the front tracks. We cut it off with OXY. We did this because as we went into a deep dyke and tried to drive it out, the tow bar fouled the opposite ditch and as I accelerated it put pressure on the half shafts and - you guessed it - BANG the half shafts broke. Incidentally, this vehicle replaced two worn out Bren Gun carriers.

Geoffrey Powell, ex 5131 Bomb Disposal Sqn RAF 1960/63.

Geoffrey Powell Cuthbertson Picture

Cuthbertson Land Rover - picture by Geoffrey Powell

Tracked Land Rover at Gaydon 2008

Tracked Land Rover on show at Gaydon 2008

Cuthbertson Lightweight.

This version of the Cuthbertson tracked design was used by an RAF bomb disposal team based at RAF Orfordness, in the 1980's.

Cuthbertson Lightweight
Cuthbertson Lightweight.

If you can help out with more information on Cuthbertson Land Rovers, please do so.

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