MINI GT’s Trans-Americas Range Rover review

22 February 2024
MINI GT Trans-Americas Range Rover
A new MINI GT Range Rover 1971 British Trans-Americas Expedition model is launched
MINI GT’s Trans-Americas Range Rover review Images

As a new MINI GT Range Rover 1971 British Trans-Americas Expedition model is launched, we review the vehicle and remember the history behind it.

SCALE: 1/64 
PRICE: £16.99
REF: MGT00542-L

The British Trans-Americas Expedition was an incredible PR stunt undertaken by Land Rover, in the early 1970s, for its then brand-new Range Rover. The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads stretching across the Americas, from Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay to the southern extents of South America, measuring about 18,000 miles in length. But there was a break in the middle for about 250 miles of unchartered South American jungle and the Great Atrato Swamp, known as the Darién Gap.

The idea was for a pair of the new Range Rovers to tackle the route, including the missing section, in a bold move to boost sales, in the USA in particular. The plan was for the cars to start in Alaska and finish at the very tip of Chile, at Cape Horn. The whole trip would take about seven months to complete, with about four of those to cross that bit in the middle!

The terrain was initially well-handled by the state-of-the-art Range Rovers, fitted with water tanks, an inflatable raft, roof-mounted ladders, winches, roll-bars, bumper extensions and roof-racks. The Darién Gap, however, was always going to be the real test. This wasn’t the first attempt to cross the gap, but all previous attempts over the years had failed. Once into the jungle terrain proper, the pair of Range Rovers began to see why, with their differentials breaking every few miles due to the excessive loads being placed on the cars, heavily laden with gear and fitted with swamp tyres.

Whilst these problems were fixed, the US Army had helicoptered in an old Series II Land Rover to forge ahead and clear a path. It took a long time and some incredible challenges had to be overcome, but both Range Rovers made it down to Chile in the end - the Range Rovers’ durability had been proven.

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The two vehicles are still around today – one in the British Motor Museum, at Gaydon, and the other is part of the Dunsfold Collection, near Guildford. It’s the Gaydon example that is modelled here.

For such a small scale, there is an absolute wealth of detail, including the well-used ladders. The myriad sponsor decals are all there (although these reflect how the car is today and searching for period photos shows up a few minor discrepancies) and the finish is wonderful. A small error to the rear side windows (the separation should be angled back a little, not true vertical) does not detract from what is a superb value replica.

This replica, along with other adventure models, is available from or your preferred retailer.