The best 4 4x4xfar!
|Welcome to the cleanest corner of my hobby.
Tinkering with old English motor vehicles usually gives you greasy hands,
bloody knuckles and dirty clothes, but browsing is clean work, so hop in
and find out more about these amazing vehicles which I spend far too much
I always wanted a Land Rover. Ever since the local farmers in my home in England drove around in their Series I's and II's, I was fascinated in these hardy little trucks. My early motoring days in England were without a Rover due to my then misplaced ideas about the cost of Rovering - when I think of all the £'s I spent on Ford Cortina's, Mini's and similar rustbuckets too numerous to mention, each of which I owned for all too brief a period on its way to the knacker's yard, I can now see that I could have bought an aluminium workhorse years ago. However that was not to be - I didn't get into Land Rovers until I moved to Denmark in the early 80's. Now I own quite a collection - and all but one of them are in daily use for my company.
My first Land Rover was a 1976 Series III which I bought in 1984 - it's still running as a daily driver, and is in better condition than ever - the motor (2.25 diesel) had a thourough rebuild in 1994, and the rest of the vehicle has been tinkered with constantly since. In the winter of 1998/99 I replaced the original chassis with a new galvanised frame, which resulted in a complete rebuild. This was a long hard project, but the end result is satisfying - a completely new Land Rover!
For more details about this rebuild project, click here.
My second Land Rover was this 1979 Series III 88" station wagon - also diesel, and without rear seats due to the taxation cost here in Denmark (hence the yellow number plate which denotes the cheaper registration). This has been our main daily driver for nearly 15 years, as well as starring in a popular Danish television show for children. It has run over 300,000 km, including all the way around Iceland in 1990. In 1998 it had an interesting accident when it was rolled over onto its right hand side - no one was hurt, but it resulted in a total rebuild which took three months.
In 1997 I was hunting for a spare gearbox to put into my 88", and I found an even older 88 which I could buy for a song, to remove the gearbox. This was originally intended as a donor vehicle, but after washing years of crud and paint off the bodywork and chassis, I discovered that it was in very good condition, and the motor ran well, so slowly, this truck from 1972 has inherited surplus spares from my other rebuild projects. The rear end has had a half chassis rebuild, the paintwork is hand painted - to make it presentable until I have time to take it apart and do the job properly. Future work includes rebuilding both axles and installing a dual circuit brake system which was standard on later 88" models. This is a hobby project - no stress, no deadline.
My latest investment is a brand new Defender 110 County Station Wagon. This is the main company car - used as a location unit for our tv crew. It has been modified to seat 7 instead of the usual 10, leaving space for film equipment and baggage. The Defender is a totally different kettle of bananas to the Series Land Rovers - it has power steering, coil springs, permanent 4 wheel drive, and a 300 Turbo diesel injection motor with 5 gears. But despite the power and the fancy trimmings, it bears the heritage of a unique vehicle which has remained conceptually the same since the launch of the Series I prototype in 1947.
After four and a half years careful driving and loving care - with maintenance "according to the book" I must admit to being somewhat disappointed with the cosmetic condition of my Defender 110" CSW - the vehicle still drives and handles as well as the day it was delivered, but the standard of paintwork and finish leaves a lot to be desired - and the quality - in my humble opinion - in no way matches that of the Series vehicles.
This is a great pity - the "Land Rover heritage" is exploited vigorously by the marketing departments of both the manufacturer and the importer in Denmark - and yet the Defender CSW - which was designed to appeal to a more discerning driver in competition with the growing SUV market - is sadly in cosmetic terms a tatty imitation of its competitors. This is an issue which I believe the Land Rover manufacturing and sales community should address!
So what are the advantages of being a "car-free" family and business? Well these cars last for years, they are sturdy, reliable, and despite all sorts of things going wrong, they will always get you home. The spare parts - especially for the Series III's are really cheap compared to other 4WD and many normal cars, and there are plenty of donor vehicles to get spares from. They are easy to work on in a private workshop, so it is possible to keep them running in a very high standard of safety and mechanical condition, without huge labour costs. But apart from the many rational arguments for owning land Rovers - it is a deeply emotional issue, one which all classic car enthusiasts will understand - if only the manufacturer would give attention to the cosmetic details!