Monday, 11 June 2012

World's quirkiest go-anywhere vehicle is Mini based

The Mini Moke may originally have been intended as an all-purpose Army vehicle, but it was only when it washed ashore of tourist beaches that it became a hit. And it certainly wasn't alone there as umpteen Mini based and Moke inspired creatures followed (quite a few used names inspired by it, too. From the Mule to the Yak, from the Cub to the Mongrel). Okay. But most of these emphasized on the fun factor rather then on the utility side of things. Were there ever any real all-purpose Mini derivatives? Oh yes.

Meet the RTV, or Rough Terrain Vehicle. A most unusual Mini based go-anywhere thingy that was more capable of mudplugging then your average Camel Trophy Land Rover. The outrageous RTV was designed and built by Robert Mandry on his farm estate in Surrey. Yes, that's the same chap who did the Mini based Scamp there, too - clearly another funster. Anyway, apart from using a Mini engine (plus suspension, brakes and steering) the RTV was different then anything else. Not in the last place because of the 998cc 40bhp Mini engine with auto gearbox was placed amidships and longitudinally. And then with the drive shafts running front and rear, driving all four Weller wheels with massive Terra tyres through two Triumph Herald diffs. Good God! And that wasn't all. The thing came with a swiveling body, so that just about any surface could be tackled without any of the wheels coming off the ground. That's not just very clever. That is very cool, too.

There's a fantastic brochure of the RTV which shows some of the ways it can be used for. At one shot it is seen with a sorry-looking tractor in a ditch and the caption reads: "The mechanics of a Mini. The guts to rescue a bogged-down tractor." Another, showing the RTV with a muddy Range Rover: "The Range Rover ran out of juice, the horse-box trailed along behind, the RTV kept everything rolling on." My favourite one is of the RTV driving over what looks like the white cliffs of Dover, reading: "We could have used a helicopter to drop the RTV here. We decided on a gentle drive instead."
Not more then 30 RTVs are believed to have been built, although there could be less, too. I understand it even made it to BBC's Tomorrow's World programme, too, which would be nice to see. One RTV was advertised recently on eBay in Rochdale with a 3,000 pounds Buy it Now price. Despite living in the flattest country in the world, I should have bought it, really.

Wish I lived there. Then there would have been no excuse for buying an RTV
40 Degrees swiveling body was masterminded by Scamp instigator Robert Mandry
Picture courtesy Off Road and 4-Wheel Driver
The RTV was just under 3 metres long. The Mini engine is situated behind the cab 
This RTV was offered for sale in Rochdale recently. Who took it? Note rear axle
Picture courtesy


  1. Hi,GREAT to see your interest in the RTV,it also drew me to it. I found the design and simplicity of this off roader a proof of over engineering in modern utility vehicles.
    For the good or bad I purchased it. Time will tell.

  2. Well done! Could you drop me a line at ?

  3. hello there just seen your write up about the r.t.v they cant be many about these days i own the first ever one built my email is

    1. Hi do you have any pictures of it. If so could you email me please

  4. Hi anyone still got interest in the good old rtv. I have mine still I. Sussex. Its a runner and road registered new tyres and running gear. But I now have found my interest back in classic motorcycles. Space, to store is now a problem. So will be up for sale. Would interest, fun off roader, mini fanatic for the oddest mini based production vehicle made. Please reply to this site. 11/1/19