Thursday, 12 April 2012

My passion for Land Rover's

One of the things that makes me tick , is looking at , tinkering with and anything Land Rover !!
I always hankered for a Land Rover and came very close to buying one when i was about 18 yrs old . One of my elder brothers talked me out of it by saying how rubbish they are !! He said they were not very good to drive , they were noisy , the heaters didn't work , the ventilation during summer was awful , etc etc etc . I listened to the words of wisdom and purchased a Blue Ford Escort instead !!

Jump forward something near 20 yrs . I was chatting to a work friend who has recently purchased a 1984 Series 3 County Station Wagon . It had sat in a farmers barn for many years . But with some fresh fuel and a good battery , she fired up . She was then taken for a M.O.T test , with a few jobs needing doing . Including needing 1/4 of the chassis replacing !!! Yes , sadly , Land Rovers suffer from chassis that rot away if not looked after .

Once Grahams new purchase was up and running . It was time to go with him to a off road event . Local to both of us is a small village called Whaddon . And there is a local farmer who opens up his land every few weeks to allow people in off road vehicles to pay an entry fee and have fun for the day . So it was up early one Sunday morning , with a flask of coffee and some chocolate biscuits . We met up to see what the Landy was capable of .
I was passenger for a few hrs . Jumping out every so often to get photos of Graham putting his Land Rover through its paces .

I could not believe what the vehicle was capable of !!! There seemed to be nothing that could stop it . And Graham had nerves of steel , driving up some very steep hills . And through some very deep water . So deep in fact , that upon opening the door to climb back in , my feet were soaked by thick sticky muddy water pouring out of the footwell !!
 A gentle drive along the field .
That was deeper than Graham thought . Hence the reverse lights !!

That was it !!! I was hooked once again !!! I wanted my own Land Rover !!!
So , it was onto ebay , looking through page after page of wonderful looking Land Rovers . I had a budget to stick to and it seemed all the gooduns were 100's of miles away . Then as usually happens . I was chatting to another friend , telling him that i was looking for a Land Rover of my own . Russ said that a guy at work was selling his one !!
A few days later i went to view it . It turned out to also be a Series 3 . But was a long wheel base . Known as a 109 . This being the length of the chassis , in inches . He was green in colour, ( see how i called it , Him , ?? ) and  was a Irish import .There were a couple of bench seats in the back and almost brand new front seats . There was a huge amount of space in the rear . I could see all sorts of uses for such a big space . A deal was done and a few days later i went to collect Lionel ( now it's gone from him , to being named Lionel !! )

The day i collected him was the first time of driving him . I had not driven him before , due to not being covered by insurance . My wife drove me over there . And would follow me home . A journey of around 20 miles .

Lionel fired up well . i tried to put him in gear . But couldn't find first gear . When i did , i realised that i then needed reverse . Which i also couldn't find !!  The steering was , non , power steering . And was heavier than anything that i had done in the gym in my younger days . The journey home was ......... scary !!!  I remember seeing my wife in her car behind me when we stopped at one set of lights . She stuck her thumb up , as if to say ' Are you ok ?? ' I really wasn't happy driving this thing !!!

I pulled up outside my house , parked up Lionel and there he sat for about a week . I really could not face driving him again . But i did take him for a short drive to take the dog out for her walk . In jumped Izzy . She seemed quite happy in the huge space in the rear . Until i fired him up . Then she jumped over the rear bulkhead and plonked herself onto the nice new front seats . The reason for her fright was the fact that Lionel was powered by a very noisy 2286cc diesel engine . Poor Izzy buried her head behind me as we drove to her usual place for a walk . Yes it was a noisy , scary place for a young Doberman to be !!
So , over the next few weeks both myself and Izzy started to enjoy our little trips out in Lionel . I got used to the gearbox and the steering . Izzy got used to the noise . I added a big soft bed for her in the back and she was at home .
Lionel was used for just over a year . Running back and forth to the river with the dog . Collecting fire wood to keep us warm in winter ( see , that was one of my thoughts about the size of the rear space) and even taking me to work a few times a week .
The only problem was that his top speed was around 50mph . So , he couldn't be used for long journeys . And i wanted to take my Land Rover up to The Lake District . So , i looked at how many shares i had stashed away and worked out i had enough to get myself a newer Landy .
I wanted something with a more gentle engine and was advised that i needed a 200tdi powered vehicle .
So now my search was on for my second Land Rover !!
My green machine , Lionel the 109 Seris 3.

I popped into my local Landy workshop to see if they knew of any 200tdi powered Land Rovers for sale . I was in luck !!!! They had one of their own vehicles that was available . It was a Defender 90 . So a short wheelbase , with the engine i was looking for . But with the added luxury of power steering and good brakes !!!
I took it for a drive and fell in love :-) This was going to be my new Land Rover . It was blue had had lots of extra work done to it . Including a 2" suspension lift , stainless steel exhaust and a radio cassette player !!
The deal was done and i had my second Land Rover . My wife named it 'Donald'  and he was now my daily drive .
I sold Lionel to a local lady  who used him for pretty much the same things that i had used him for . Sadly , he was parked up after about a year and then sold on for scrap :-(

I have now owned Donald for around 5 years and have been all over the country in him . He has done 185,000 miles and has recently had a head gasket repair . But other than that has proved to be very reliable . Only once has he broken down . This was during a trip to The Lake District and turned out to be only a failed injector .

He has also been treated to some new front seats . Only due to the fact that i was lucky enough to win a local radio competition . Giving me £1,500 to spend on him how i pleased !!
I purchased and had fitted some wonderful Exmoor Trim seats and also some Wright Off Road sound proof . Not that he was noisy , but this sound proofing is fantastic in that not only does it cut down the noise . But it also makes the interior look much smarter .

Donald has been used on a few pay and play sites . As was Grahams first Land Rover . He has also been to many Land Rover shows , taken part in the London 2 Brighton run and has had many days out on the wonderful Green Lanes in Cumbria and other places around the UK . Take a look at This to see what Green Laning is all about .

Above are some of the places Donald and i have been . Plus one with Donald and the 50th .

Then , 18 months ago . My friend contacted me to say that he was selling his 50th Anniversary Defender 90 !!! This is a very special Defender indeed . the spec as follows .
For Land Rover's 50th anniversary in 1998 two special editions were built. The first was the Defender 50th which was essentially a NAS (North American Spec) Defender 90 Station Wagon. It was powered by a 190 hp (140 kW) 4.0-litre V8 petrol engine and was the first Land Rover outside North America to be fitted with an automatic transmission. Air conditioning made them very comfortable vehicles too. For the UK and Europe they were painted Atlantis Blue, a dark green/blue flip-flop colour and had a Safety Devices roll-over protection cage for the front seat occupants. In total 1071 50th Anniversary Defenders were built; 385 for the UK home market, the rest for Japan, Europe and Middle East.
Again the deal was done and i was now the owner of 2 Defenders .

The idea being that i would sell Donald and get the 50th fitted with LPG  to make it more affordable to take on long trips . I have never got round to selling Donald as i can't part with him . We have been together for some years and he is part of the family .

I have now owned the 50th for just over 18 months . But due to my redundancy i am having to part with the 50th . As it is just not viable to run two Defenders , one being a V8 !!!

 Donald on a Green Lane in Berkshire

Defender 50th on a visit to Wales . On this visit we drove The Gap Rd .

So , that's a long blog and a bit about one of my other hobbies . I will be blogging about my trips out in Donald . Particularly now i have purchased a Roof Tent . Meaning i can sleep on the vehicle and get up early and fresh for sunrise photography !!

Thanks again for visiting my blog . And again please feel free to leave feedback .
View more of my images on my website



Brian said...

Hi Mark, Brilliant write up. Why not submit it to Landywave.

Mark said...

Thanks Brian , I will look at sending it in for them to consider using it in one of the monthly editions .
Thanks for your kind comments . There will be plenty stories about Donald's antics . So keep popping back for a read :-)