4X4 adds to local man’s impressive green fleet

Irish Army patrolling West Belfast

By Francesca Ryan

A West Belfast man has acquired a vehicle that has literally been thorough the wars.

This Nissan Patrol 4×4 is the latest addition to Jim Smith’s impressive fleet of military vehicles and is the only one of its kind left.

The Dunmurry man, Chairman of the Military Vehicle Club Ireland, an all island club with over 300 members, is delighted with his unique purchase and talked us through the vehicle’s history.

“The Irish Army had 310 of these,” he explained.  “They scrapped them in 2007 and usually crush or destroy them so civilians can’t get their hands on them, but this one had previously been sold at auction to an English scrap dealer after it had served in Kosovo.  It and 29 others were sold out of the country and while the others ended up as scrap, this one ended up on a farm in Wales for 12 years and has since become the only one left in the world.”

When Jim – who owns six other military vehicles and an Irish Army Harley Davidson motorcycle – saw it for sale online, he knew he had to pounce.

“I saw it on eBay and went for it,” he said.  “I knew it was quite a rare one, being the only survivor of its fleet, so I knew I had to get it and restore it. As it was on a farm in Wales, chickens and goats were living in it, there were rust holes on the floor and the doors were hanging off but I got it back here and worked on it for six months.

“The sirens and radios still work in it and I’m really happy with its condition. I expect it to get a lot of attention at the shows seeing it’s so unique.  I have six vehicles and take them to shows and exhibits, like the Curragh Camp show every year. This one will be brought on the same circuit.”

We asked Jim where his interest arose from and his answer was his childhood and the military vehicles that swamped West Belfast.

“I have been doing it for about 30 years because I have always had an interest in them,” he said.  “It probably comes from growing up in Andytown and the army jeeps were everywhere but you wouldn’t have gone near them, if anything a lot of people were probably trying to destroy them because it was taboo to do anything else.”

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