4: 1950 Land Rover, Series I, 80”, Registration number- LTJ 714
And so it came to pass that I became a Land Rover owner, for the very first time. It was also my first non-Ford car, breaking a family tradition which had held sway since the late 1940s.
I had coveted this battered old Landy since my pal had bought it a year before. It had once been resplendent in off white, but he had painted Dulux green. It was still a thing of beauty, and so, on the 3rd March 1983, I took to the roads in the draughty old tub.
The nearside door was held closed with baler twine, impeding speedy entry and exit, but a sliding bolt, of the type often seen on domestic bathroom doors, restored easy access, via the little canvas flaps in the doors.
My first trip revealed the first of the car’s foibles, a tendency to starve itself of fuel when driven hard. The problem was a small crack in a fuel pipe, but it took a a few days of steady investigation to find the offending piece.
Its most alarming characteristic was a violent steering wobble, which was set in play when travelling at around 30mph and hitting a pothole in the road. The first time that it happened, I was shaken, literally, but I got used to it until finally sorting out the cause, a cracked bulkhead below the steering box mounting holes, which allowed an alarming amount of ‘flex’.
The ‘Tracta’ joints were horribly worn, leading to awful grinding in 4wd, and so I removed the front drive shafts, rendering the car 2WD; I was only interested in posing in the thing.
I loved this old car, enough to keep it for eleven years, during which time I replaced its engine with a far worse one, as it turned out. The new installation managed to use almost as much oil as fuel on a marathon Birmingham to Hastings journey, one Sunday in February 1992. I was plastered in the stuff, as was my luggage and drum kit, sitting in the open back.
On the onward journey it dropped a valve seat and so was towed to my next studio appointment, in London, where it stayed for a couple of months. I was lucky not to be charged for parking.
Eventually, to recover it, I joined a well known roadside repair service, left it a month and then popped back to where the car was still sitting, coaxed it back to life, drove it a couple of blocks and then made the call.
The warm engine, with a pool of oil underneath was clearly taken as being terminal and so it was returned to Birmingham, a round trip of nearly three months.
Bored with the hassle, a year or so later I sold it on, something I now regret.
It still exists, but my pockets have never been deep enough when it has come up for sale.
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