Central West Car Club | A 'love-hate' relationship

UNIQUE: Erik and Michelle Lensson, their dog Rusty and their Landrover 'Willis'. The Perentie has flow-through air conditioning for those hot summer days. Photo: Jeff McClurg
UNIQUE: Erik and Michelle Lensson, their dog Rusty and their Landrover 'Willis'. The Perentie has flow-through air conditioning for those hot summer days. Photo: Jeff McClurg

Erik Lensson is a newly joined member of the Central West Car Club with his own unique vehicle. I recently met Erik and his wife Michelle at the Parkes Australia Day car display in Cooke Park and he told me all about "Willis".

"Willis is a 1990 Landrover 110 'Perentie' GS (General Service) 4WD, which I purchased from Australian Frontline Machinery (AFM) via Grays Online Auctions four years ago for $9000,” Erik said.

“At the time I had just retired from CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, after contributing to the construction of the ASKAP Radio Telescope near Boolardy Station in remote WA.

“I also supervised about $6.5M of infrastructure upgrades of the Parkes Radio Telescope since 2009. I learnt to drive in a PMG Series 3 Landrover and spent eight years conducting engineering surveys in remote areas.

“I had a bit of a 'love-hate' relationship with the Series 3, particular weak points being the engine and drive-train reliability. I first learned of the existence of the Australian Army Perentie from watching Les Hiddins on the ABC series 'Bushtuckerman'.

“I was a bit nervous about bidding for a vehicle without 'eyeballing' it but, with the extensive photos and information provided by friends, I decided to bid for a particular vehicle in the most common (GS) form - the logic being that the most numerous model would be financially the most sensible,” he said.

“Models like the 'FFR' and 'SRV' are rarer and have PTO winches etc, but the price premium extends up to double the price of a good GS.

“So purchasing a good cheap GS would leave me some cash with which to modify/improve the vehicle to my own requirements and plans.

“Willis came complete with army maintenance logbooks confirming to my surprise that it had travelled only 67,000km since new!

“Willis now has 87,000km on the clock and Michelle and I have toured Tasmania twice as well as other trips. Recently we purchased a matching ex-army 'No. 5' trailer which I've fitted with a canopy pending a 'big desert trip' to WA.

“Our plan is to leave Parkes in mid June and travel/camp our way through Menindee, Broken Hill, Camerons Corner, Maree, Oodnadatta, Yulara, Docker River, Warburton, Leonora, through Murchison to Boolardy to visit the ASKAP Telescope which is now operational,” he said.

Erik's 110 Perentie was designed and built in Australia to Australian Army specifications and is fitted with a turbocharged Isuzu 3.9 litre diesel engine.

It has coil spring suspension and as you'd expect for a military vehicle that's about as much comfort as you get.

Erik tells me that the Perentie has flow through air conditioning for those hot summer days, but something tells me that's a couple of vents in the dash and the footwells.

MORE CAR CLUB ARTICLES: