The Registry Of Ex-Military Land-Rovers Au, NZ, etc

1958 1/4 Ton Comparative Testing


In 1958 the Design Establishment was tasked under Test Instruction TI 1762 on 6 May 1958 to undertake comparative trials of a 4x4, 1/4 ton truck to assist Army HQ in making a decision to purchase a replacement for the GPW Jeep in use at the time.  The purchase was noted to take place in the 1958/59 financial year, and must have been a sudden requirement as it was noted that because of time constraints that the testing was undertaken in two phases.  Phase 1 involved limited running of vehicles and assessment with an interim report provided by 30 June 1958.  Phase 2 was to be undertaken form 30 June 1958 until the phase 2 report was due on 30 September 1958. Phase 2 included further running and reliability testing comparing the initial control vehicle and 4 test vehicles with a sample of the current US pattern vehicle, namely a M38A1.

 Interestingly in the request for trials, it was noted that the Cj-3B and Gypsy were offered for trial free of charge, and that Landrover should be approached for a similar arrangement.  It was also noted that arrangements through Willys (Aust)  and AMM had been made to purchase two M38A1 vehicles.  It was also noted that the time available would not allow for user trials.

Control Vehicle - GP (GPW) Landrover Series II Willys CJ-3B(Aust) Austin Gypsy Freighter Pilot Model No.3
M38A1 (Phase 2)
Body / Chassis No. 336352 142800001 57348 K316 Pilot Model No.3 357144 : 15719
Engine No. 16359 151800031 4j191386 22D/U/331 56GE2033 MO114632
C67999 an later
ARN 107-671
Distance Covered Phase 1
429 miles
280 miles (late start awaiting 77hp engine from UK)
448 miles (plus 800 miles running in)
423 miles (running suspended due to suspension failure)
76 miles (running suspended due to rear suspension failure)
Mileage when Received unknown
1,441 miles
24 miles
1,318 miles
2,016 miles
1,200 miles
Price 225 in 1942 1193 1196 1150 1150 approx 1500 approx

During the phase 1 trials the vehicles carried a distributed load of 560lb, as well as a driver and co-driver. During the trial they were driven on first class roads to check automotive performance for about 100 miles each. They were then put onto the Mount Charlie and Alpine circuits in the Monegeeta area so that any shortcomings would be shown as soon as possible.  It was also noted that the only vehicle that required running in was the CJ-3B as when it was received it had only done 24 miles.

Interestingly in the Phase 1 report there were some enlightening notes on each vehicle:

Control - GS (GPW)

  • 1942 vintage Jeep had been thoroughly serviced and was in good order
  • During phase 1 was the only vehicle to suffer no breakages or failures.


  • Not yet released on the Australian market commercially and is an evolution of the familiar Series 1 Landrover
  • For cross country use the consensus was that the series 1 was underpowered.  This is an interesting comment as a series 1 was not included in the trials, however one can be seen in the background of one of the photos.  Perhaps the vehicle earlier tested in 1951?
  • It was noted that for the small increase in weight over the Series 1, the Series 2 had power raised from 52 to 77 hp with an appropriate improvement in torque. The improved flexibility and smoothness in cross country use was marked and is now considered very good
  • The engine had been changed from a 2 litre F-head to a 2 1/4 litre OHV, considered an improvement for ease of servicing.  It would appear, along with the comments about waiting for an engine in mileage covered, that the vehicle arrived before it's new engine was ready and with a 2 litre unit fitted.  This was probably the source of the rumours of the Command Recon vehicles being fitted with a 2 litre engine originally. 
  • Whilst the heaviest on test, was also the roomiest and most complete in detail, finish and fittings.
  • General finish of the Landrover was far superior to all others in the group and the cabin would lend itself better to crew comfort.
  • The Australian content of the Landrover was also noted as being the highest.
  • A number of differences were noted between this vehicle and the commercial version.
  • A fractured exhaust manifold on 52hp engine was noted at 1499 miles
  • The tyres were also noted as being 670x16 in size.

Willys CJ-3B (Aust)

  • Redesign of the WW2 GPW
  • Vehicle handled well with highest power to weight ratio.
  • The main vice was the poor visibility for the driver because of a crouched position due to lack of headroom
  • The conversion from LHD to RHD for Australia has been incompletely done including: Instruments and dash controls on the LHS of the vehicle, spare wheel on the rear right of the vehicle obstructing rearward vision.
  • Side doors noted to restrict drivers visibility


  • First impressions of the vehicle is that it is a good vehicle, however in detail it lacks the long development and evolution of the Jeep and Landrover
  • Comfortably powered by the robust Austin A90 engine. Gearbox appeared easy and smooth after a little use
  • The suspension is noted as being novel with unusual characteristics and feel. Advice had been received that four vehicles submitted to FVRDE had been rejected after a short period and BMC has carried out major modifications that are not available, but may become so in Phase 2.
  • Due to suspension damage the vehicle was withdrawn form the trial
Freighter Pilot Model No.3
  • This vehicle incorporated a number of modifications as a result of Pilot Model No.2 having been submitted to the Design Establishment for Trials.
  • From the human engineering aspect this vehicle is easily the best, especially in aspects of driver visibility.
  • Unfortunately the vehicle has not been able to run any distance under load without a failure occurring so the real merits or otherwise of the vehicle have not been assessed. It now appears that if the suspension failures are rectified so that some useful running will be possible in phase 2.
  • The design is considered sufficiently promising using the standard Vanguard Phase 3 engine, to be worth contemplating in view of the stage now reached.

Conclusions from Phase 1
A number of conclusions were reached at the end of Phase 1 testing . The Freighter and Gypsy were noted as unsuitable for serious consideration at this stage. The issue was noted as being between the Jeep and Landrover as both were considered suitable. Cross country there was little between the Jeep and Landrover, however the Landrover was noted as being preferred in terms of capacity and body adequacy. The Landrover was also noted to be more likely to resist parking for extended periods in the open.  No particular modifications would appear to have been necessary if the Landrover was chosen, apart from the break and accelerator pedals strangely enough.  The issue there seems to be narrow, bare metal pedals.  A studded, ribbed or rubber pedal that was wider was recommended for nearly all vehicles on the trial. The Jeep was noted as requiring a number of modifications to the Clutch U link, clutch idler shaft and some other items.  At list prices, the Landrover was noted as the best buy.  It was also noted that should supply chains be disrupted overseas, the Landrover would be the easiest to maintain supply of parts with local manufacturing.

Annex 1 to Interim Report
This report contained information pertaining to the M38A1 purchased for the comparison trials. It is noted in this report dated 25 July 1958 that "Trade Confidential"information indicated that the CJ-3B model would be discontinued in late Mar 1959, and was being replaced by the Australian assembled CJ-5.  In these circumstances the report notes that CJ-3B can hardly be of further interest along with it's other shortcomings.

A program of increasing the Australian content of the CJ-5 over the following two years to a level similar to the Landrover was noted as being desirable. It was also noted that because of the Australian content that the price of the Landrover would be increasing by 100 to 1,293.  It notes that the CJ-5 is the commercial version of the M38A1, with the only important differences being 12v electrical system and the breathing system for various components. It notes that the cost of an Australian M38A1 without the deep wading or 24V system would be about 1,550.  It notes that apart from the deep wading and performance figures, that the results of the M38A1 trial can be taken as applying to the CJ-5.


  • Interestingly information about this vehicle was included in Addendum 1 to the Phase 1 report, probably due to it's later arrival. 
  • It was classed as a CT, or Combat Truck rather than CL or GS vehicle.  The inclusion of 24v electrics and deep fording capability was noted as introducing a cost margin of 200 to 250. 
  • The vehicle had 1,200 miles on the clock on delivery because it was shipped to Brisbane, and driven to Melbourne.
  • It was considered that the M38A1 would not be unduly complex or difficult to work on for repairs in field workshops.
  • It was concluded that if a vehicle with CT characteristics was required, then the M38A1 would be the best choice. However if the Deep Wading requirements were not required, then perhaps the CJ-5 would meet the GS requirements.
  • There is no mention of what happened to the 2nd Jeep, ARN107-422, however it does appear in a photo of a vehicle having been air dropped. 

Phase 2 Reports
Whereas Phase 1 was a compiled report, the reports for Phase 2 were broken down into individual vehicles, dated June 1959. 

The CJ-3B was found to be not acceptable for the Australian Army due to a number of deficiencies.  Lack of adequate body strength and visibility are two factors that are singled out, as well as the discontinuation of the model.  During this phase some 3,860 miles including 350 miles on first and second class roads, and the remainder around the Mount Charlie circuit.

The Freighter vehicle was noted in a somewhat different light to the others, as it was known that production vehicles would not be available for purchase by the Australian Army as it was a prototype.  However the report encouragingly notes that if the development of the vehicle continued it was a very promising vehicle. After 76 miles of Phase 1 trials it suffered major suspension failure and was sent back to the manufacturer for a rework.  When it returned it had approximately 3,400 miles. During the trials 5,724 miles were covered of which 1,882 miles were on first and second class roads, with the remainder on the Mount Charlie circuit.

The M38A1 covered 4,314 miles of running, of which 914 miles were run on first and second class roads, and the remaining mileage over the Mount Charlie circuit.  It was noted with some surprise, given that it was currently in service with the US Army, that Spring Settling and Breakage occurred during the testing, together with cracks in the front cross member and sub frame being the most serious.The body roll on the vehicle was noted as being particularly concerning for the drivers, and after departing the road on one occasion the vehicle was cornered more slowly than normal for this class of vehicle. For when it was made, it was noted as being acceptable (a post war design), but by modern standards it began to fall short on comfort, durability and handling.

The Landrover was noted as the type acceptable in relation to the Australian Army's requirements. The only real problem that was raised for consideration was the restricted range due to the size of the fuel tank, something that was rectified in later life in GS form with twin fuel tanks. 3,579 miles were covered in the phase 2 trials of which 1700 were first and second class roads, with the remainder a large portion was run over the Mount Charlie circuit. The remaining miles were run in the Snowy Mountain region, in slush and snow, under conditions of great severity.   It was also noted that there was a problem with the settling of the springs as the incorrect springs were inadvertently fitted during the vehicle's construction. A further report on the durability of the vehicle was to be composed at the conclusion of 10,000 miles and 25,000 miles respectively.   In the end it was concluded that it appears that the Landrover Series 2, fitted with heavy duty springs and shock absorbers, 7.50x16 tyres, a modified canopy, and various other minor fittings would suit the role.

Report Documents
Below are the PDF versions of the report documents, however some of these are quite large so check what size they are before downloading

As seen below there were a number of images with the trial reports which we have included below.


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The map of the route taken for testing
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All the trialled vehicles together
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The main contenders with trailer and artillery piece
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The Willys jeep control vehicle
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The M38A1 from Willys, being the military version of the CJ-5
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The Landrover Series II
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The Willys CJ-3B(Aust)
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The Austin Gypsy
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The Austin Gypsy
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The Freighter No.3
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Freighter suspension failure
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Willys GPW crossover on top, and the Freighter below, however showing a Series 1 Landrover in the background.
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The brochure from the civilian CJ-5



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