AN exceptionally rare ‘Forest Rover’ Roadless Land Rover from 1959 is coming up for auction in Tennants Auctioneers’ Motor Car, Motorcycle and Automobilia Sale in Leyburn on May 14 with an estimate of £45,000-55,000 plus buyer’s premium.

The extraordinarily rugged version of the much-loved British classic was developed in response to the Forestry Commission’s desperate need for a vehicle that would be up to tackling the roughest of terrain in their plantations.

In 1958 and 1959 the Forestry Commission produced their own test vehicles based on the Series I and Series II Land Rover to try and solve the problem, before they approached Roadless Traction Ltd of Hounslow to take over the project. Roadless Traction Ltd specialised in purpose built tracked tractors and produced a diesel-engine prototype based on the Series II 109, with large flat panels replacing the front wings and rear tractor-type mudguards covering the over-sized wheels. The prototype was sent to Rover’s testing facility for their official approval, and after 18 months of extensive testing approval was given.

Roadless launched their vehicle in 1961, marketing it for everything from cross country exploration to shooting parties and official visits around the Empire. However, it was not a commercial success, and it is thought that only between nine and twenty examples were ever built. The present example was Prototype Number 2 and used as a demonstration vehicle by Roadless Traction Ltd; it is one of only six surviving vehicles known. The rest of the remaining vehicles are spread around the world, with examples known in Brazil, the Falkland Islands and in the Dunsfold Collection of vintage Land Rovers.

The vehicle now up for sale has been owned by the present vendor, a private collector from North Yorkshire, since 1995 who spent three years rebuilding it with as many original parts as possible.

Also coming up in the sale are a host of classic and luxury cars, including a good selection of vintage vehicles from the 1960s. Highlights include a 1965 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 4.2 (estimate: £50,000-60,000), a 1964 Daimler Dart (estimate: £25,000-35,000), a 1960 MGA 1600cc Roadster (estimate: £16,500-18,500), and a 1964 Austin Mini (estimate: £14,000-16,000).

The Roadless Land Rover will be on public view at Tennants on May 12 and 13 from 10am to 5pm and on the morning of the sale from 8am. A video of the vehicle, along with further photographs is available at