The Alvis Acorn outside Brookland’s Aircraft Factory hangar. (All images courtesy of Craig Moore.)

Rare Alvis Prototype Pleases Crowds at Brooklands

One of Britain’s more unusual military vehicles, a rare Alvis prototype, was on display at Brooklands this November as part of the museum’s Military Vehicle Day, Craig Moore reports.

The crowd-stopping Alvis Acorn proved a real curiosity to patrons of the event, held on November 17. Military vehicle fans were also in for a treat as they watched proud new owner Tony Knott completed the nearby Mercedes 4×4 off-road course, covering this rare British armoured car in a coat of mud.

Alvis was searching for a replacement for the long-serving Daimler Ferret [and saw] potential in Mechem’s experiment

Developed in 1994, the Acorn is an air-portable reconnaissance vehicle designed to be resistant to IEDs and mine blasts. The prototype scout was first developed in South Africa as the Ysterarend (Iron Eagle) by Mechem Vehicles, but the two trial examples manufactured had severe handling faults and the type was not adopted.

Meanwhile, Alvis was searching for a replacement for the long-serving Daimler Ferret both to supply the British Army and for export. Seeing potential in Mechem’s experiment, the company purchased both prototypes, improving and adapting them into two distinct vehicles; the Acorn and the Scarab.

The Scarab became increasingly heavier as it went through a series of modifications, eventually resulting in a slightly larger scout car that was more resistant to small-arms fire than contemporary reconnaissance vehicles. The improved Acorn remained a lightweight, blast-protected scout car.

The Acorn was intended to survive IED and mine strikes.

Powered by a Mercedes-Benz 6-cylinder diesel OM906 LA engine it had a maximum road speed of 68mph (110kph) and range of 372 miles (600km). Both vehicles could be armed with a 7.62mm GPMG, .5in M2 heavy machine gun, or a 20mm autocannon.

The Acorn and Scarab passed multiple tests and trials, including being used in Bosnia, but they did not enter production.

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