|As its name
implies the Sahara version of the
M201 was designed to cope with the deserts of North Africa. The Sahara was not an
army modification to the standard factory issue jeep but was a special
model that the army requested Hotchkiss to make and was
batches on the factory production line. The photo
taken at the Stains factory in 1963 shows the finishing
area where a batch of Saharas complete with sand coloured canvas can be
seen in the distance behind the standard M201s.
the standard jeep, early Saharas were built with 6 volt
electrics then from mid 1960 as 24 volt jeeps. There were
many significant differences between the Sahara and the
standard M201 though and it was much more than just the
tyres and a desert sand paint job!
The Sahara chassis was of a
modified design which included strengthening, up-rated rear
suspension springs (13 leaf) and additional mounting
points for equipment like the
tool box fitted at the
front. To improve the
Sahara's range a second fuel tank was fitted under the
passenger seat with a selector in the fuel line to switch
between the two tanks and a
was mounted between the front seats. To help overcome vaporisation
problems in the high operating temperatures an
fuel pump supported the normal mechanical one. A
air pre-filter was fitted on the right-hand wing to
reduce the risk of damage to the engine posed by sand in
the air. The sand that it collected was ingeniously discharged into the
exhaust pipe using the venturi effect to draw the sand down and
jettison it with the exhaust gasses.
tool box and its mounting brackets obscured the position
on the frame where the army serial number was stamped. To work round this the army number was often,
but not always, stamped on the side of the chassis in the
same area as the frame number. Thanks to 'Chaz' for supplying the above
photo - unfortunately the detail has been obscured by the
thickness of paint. As more data is collected there is an
increasingly probable link
between frame numbers and Sahara models in that 6 volt Saharas (pre 1960) were sometimes prefixed by 'MS' rather
than the standard 'M'. In the case of the 24 volt Saharas
(1960 onward) the prefix was sometimes 'MVS' rather than the standard
|The need to stamp the army serial
number on the side of the frame can be understood from the
photos of Tim Tearle's Sahara. The tool box was mounted on
the strengthened tapped holes obscuring the number in its
standard location though it was still stamped there as well.
Frame numbers with the 'S'
included have been found on jeeps where there is no apparent evidence of
Sahara origin at all which creates a bit of a mystery though it could be
that surplus 'S' frames were used up at the factory to
produce standard jeeps from time to time and / or jeep
chassis refurbished at La
Maltournée had the mountings removed and
the holes welded over.
If your M201 has
the army number stamped on the side of the frame like this or a
frame number with an 'S' in it somewhere then the chances are that
it was originally built as a Sahara model and I need to hear from
e-mailing me here.
INTAKE AND PRE-FILTER
Air from the cyclonic
pre-filter mounted on the was piped through a specially
notched bonnet. (Photo: M201 No. 21942) This
Sahara was subsequently used as a 'normalised' radio
directable spot lamp mounted on the left-hand side of the
windshield was another
specific feature of the Sahara model. The
circuit diagram given in MAT 3541 shows that the
switches for both the spotlight and the windscreen wiper
motor were mounted on the windshield itself, a neat trick in that the
standard set of single contacts could be used. The lamp was mounted
on a bracket welded to the frame . Note also switch 'K' for
the electric fuel pump.
EVIDENCE OF SAHARA ORIGIN
are very few Sahara versions of the M201 in existence today. Having
been designed and built primarily for use in the Algerian war their
raison d'etre diminished after the war ended in 1962. Their sturdier
design made them ideal candidates for conversion to weapons carrying
duties and most were converted to carry the ENTAC missile system.
The converted Sahara jeep in the
photo opposite retained its sand tyres, toolbox, pre-filter (just
visible) and spotlight. Basically the conversion was simply a matter
of installing the ENTAC launch and control equipment on the jeep and
repainting it which did not require a rebuild at La
and could explain why the Sahara features
were retained. This also had the added benefit that should the need
have arisen, the jeep could have been returned to desert duties.
above photo was taken in 1987 but a photo of the same jeep taken in
about 1970 and still in service with 1e RCP shows that by then the
toolbox and pre-filter had been removed and the sand tyres replaced
by bar grips though the jeep was still 221-2282 and had not been
Many photos of Saharas that were
converted ENTAC exhibit some of the Sahara features though it would
appear that over a period of time these gradually disappeared. The
spotlight was almost universally retained presumably as it was seen
to be useful.
Removing the pre-filter left a
cut out in the bonnet which was normally closed up by welding in a
new piece of metal. The photo opposite shows how this was achieved
on Tim Tearle's Sahara. In the case of
M201 No. 21942 (a Sahara converted to radio jeep)
it was left open which is unusual.
||Evidence of Sahara origin found on
M201s today can be confusing. Although Sahara chassis have
the army number stamped on the side as well as the top of
the chassis rail at the front and a frame number containing
an 'S', where they were completely rebuilt at La
all other evidence appears to have
been removed e.g. the fuel pump mountings ground off and the
toolbox mounting hole ground off and closed over.
These 'normalised' frames
then ended up on standard rebuilt jeeps with no real Sahara
origin beyond that of the chassis.
Rebuilding at regional workshops and
Clermont Ferrand led to parts being jumbled up. The windshield shown in the
photo (left) has the Sahara spot light mounting bracket
though the jeep it actually ended up on had never been a
Tim Tearle's Sahara was never rebuilt
and provides a good example of some other
original Sahara detail. In the photos below the
brackets welded to the side of the main chassis rail (below
left) are were where the electric fuel pump was once
mounted. The control for isolating the electric fuel pump
(below right) was mounted in front of the fuel tank by the
drivers seat mounting though the electrical switch mechanism
was actually mounted under the floor, hence there are no
Further evidence of the jeep's Sahara
origin is apparent from the front wing which still has the
holes on the top surface where the cyclonic air pre-filter
was once fitted. The rear of the wing has holes where pipe
leading from the pre-filter to exhaust was secured by clips
and a hole in the step where the pipe passed through to the
Loops fitted to the bonnet also appear to
feature of the 24 volt Sahara (below).
Basic technical details of the Sahara can be
found in the army publication
2222-17 and the technical manual for
the Sahara which was MAT 3339.
think that your M201 may have once been a Sahara or at least has
some parts of Sahara origin please do let me
know even if it has obviously been rebuilt since. I am trying to
trace as many examples of these as I can.
to all who have helped in making this page and the pages it links to possible.
Emile Tarbes: 6 volt Sahara M201 no. 8665 (1959)
Sahara M201 no.
Sahara M201 no. 21942 (1963)