The Camel Trophy

Let's be honest: when the Cigarette manufacturer introduced the Camel Trophy in the 1980 they were more than surprised by the public interest generated. What should only have been an one-year event aimed at the german consumers immediately took off as 10000 of people rushed to participate on an event Winston Churchill already discribed as being of "blood, sweat and tears". He was right.

The Camel Trophy started with Jeeps but from it's second year settled firmly on Solihulls finest.

All production models were used with the exception of the new shape Range Rover.

In the table below I listed the years and competitors vehicles. Keep in mind however that these are only a small number of the vehicles used. The main burden of carrying journalists, equipment and spares fell to a fleet of 110's and 130's regardless of what vehicle was the "official" car.

YEAR LOCATION Distance travelled Participants vehicles Other Info
1980 Transamazonica Route: Belem to Santarem Distance: 1,600 km 3 Jeep 3 teams from West Germany
1981 Sumatra Route: Medan to Jambi
Distance: 1,600 km
5 Range Rover, 2 door 3 teams from West Germany
1982 Papua New Guinea Route: Mont Hagen to Madang
Distace: 1,600 km
8 Range Rover, 2 door First year when more than one nation participated: I, D, NL, USA
1983 Zaire Route: Kinshasa to Kinsangani
Distance: 1,600 km
14 Series III 88 NL, P, HK, D, CH, I, E
1984 Brazil Route: Transamazonica Highway, Santarem to Manaus 12 Land Rover 110  
1985 Borneo Route: Samarinda to Balikpapan 16 Land Rover 90  
1986 Australia Route: Cooktown to Darwin
Distance: 3,218 km
14 Land Rover 90  
1987 Madagascar Route: Diego Suarez to Fort Dauphin
Distance: 2,252 km
14 Range Rover TD  
1988 Sulawesi Route: Manado to Ujang Padang
Distance: 2,092 km

12 Land Rover 110

1989 Amazon Route: Alta Floresta to Manaus 14 Land Rover 110  
1990 Siberia Route: Bratsk to Irkutsk
Distance: 1500km
16 Discovery Tdi 3-door Vehicles: 19 Discoveries, 4 Defender 110 Station Wagons, 5 Defender 127s (3 4-door crewcabs and 2 2-doors--all had a solid,enclosed load bed)
1991 Tanzania Route: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania to Bujumbura, Burundi
Distance: 1,600 km
17 Discovery Tdi 5-door  
1992 Guyana Route: Manaus, Brazil to Georgetown, Guyana
Distance: 1,600 km
16 Discovery Tdi 5-door  
1993 Sabah -Malaysia


Route: Circumnavigation, Kota Kinabalu to Kota Kinabalu
Distance: 1,500 km

16 Discovery Tdi 5-door  

South America



Route: Iguazu Falls, Argentina to Hornitos, Chile
Distance: 2,590 km

18 Discovery Tdi 5-door  

South America

Mundo Maya

Route: Lamanai, Belize through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras to Xunantunich, Belize
Distance: 1,700 km
20 Discovery Tdi 5-door  



Route: Balikpapan to Pontianak
Distance: 1850 km
20 Discovery Tdi 5-door  
1997 Mongolia   Land Rover Discovery Last year of the "real" Trophy
1998 Chile to Argentinia   Land Rover Freelander  

In February 1999 Worldwide Brands Inc. decided the image of the Camel Trophy was no longer compatible with their targeted consumer group and cancelled their sponsoring. So the Camel Trophy was dead. Read the official 1999 press release here.

In my private opinion this was a big mistake as so many people watched reports from the Trophy and talked to eachother about it thus creating a product relation. But clever marketing strateges decided it wasn't worth bothering with those people. Already the change to the soft side in the 1998 challenge got a rather cold reception by the general public. This however seemed only to confirm the theory of an out-of-date event, at least in those clever minds.

Gentlemen, go back to your studies. Didn't you learn that only a fraction of a percent of an interested group responds to any action call? And how many applications did you get every year for the Trophy? Several 100.000s. Multiply this number at least by 20 to get the number of people interested in the event. Are you really so well off to simply let go a consumer group of several millions?

No more comments on that. I simply hope some CEO will wake up one day to see the disaster.