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The Seal Saving Volvo C303

Rare Ex-army Volvo Spent It's life Saving Animals

In 1974 Volvo started production of the C3 All Terrain vehicle available in 4x4 (C303) and 6x6 (C304 & C306) versions. 75% of the trucks went for military use whilst the other 25% were used for emergency services and civil contracts. A number ended up with the Malaysian army.

The trucks are tall with plenty of ground clearance, around 16", thanks to portal axles and air powered diff lockers for those sticky situations. Due to the nature of Europe wildlands, often covered in deep forest, they were also designed to be skinny.

C303 Side Profile

With a 3.0Litre inline 6 cylinder petrol engine that produced 125bhp and 165Lbft of torque the C303 4x4 weighed in under 3500kg thanks to a mostly aluminium body. A 4 speed manual transmission allowed a 65mph top speed whilst allowing a function for low range for off-road use, you can even switch to 4x4 on the fly using a red button on the dash.

Despite having leaf springs all round, the C303 feels fantastic to drive, we got a quick go whilst on the by-ways over Salisbury Plains and its super smooth. You'd expect a truck of this age to be a bit of a pig with pedals, steering and gearbox but no the boxy Volvo almost feels like an everyday 4x4 to drive. It made large drop offs feel like small bumps and we love sitting on top of the front wheels. If we could find one we would easily chop our 406 Unimog in for one of these as a toy.

I can not believe the inside space this truck has. Room for two in the front, five in the middle and separate caged off boot space you could take the whole extended family with you and the kitchen sink. You can tell it would have easily takenĀ  a number of Swedish soldiers with full winter gear with ease.

C303 Incline
Volvo in Mud

This particular example of the C303 is owned by Dom Flannery who was kind enough to meet us locally in Market Lavington before spending the afternoon on some Wiltshire lanes. Dom and his partner Monika make regular use of their Swedish truck going to shows and events as well as laning trips. They have done a fantastic job of keeping this vehicle up together and its in great order considering where it spent its life.

Although initially a military radio truck, the 4x4 has a lovely little story in that it used to spend most of its days on the little Danish island of Terschelling, Where an old chap spent his days scouring the beaches of the island looking for injured animals and beached seals. The C303 was used to tow said weighty mammals back to the sea when fit and healthy. There's even a video of it in Dutch on Youtube which you can see below. The roof lamp was an addition by the Swedish animal saving hero and used four searching the sands in dusk and sunset.

Feel free to have a watch and browse the rest of the images of this fantastic machine whilst we head off and hunt for one for ourselves.

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