Vehicles I have owned: 6 - 1955 Land Rover Series I, SWB 86”.
My original, 80” Land Rover Series One had been troublesome for some time, and such is the way of these things, a classified advertisement had caught my eye. Offered for sale therein was a 1955 Series One, short, 86 inches wheelbase model and it was relatively local to me. I arranged to borrow a covering sum from my mum, while I got around to selling my old Landy, and headed off to see the ‘new’ beast.
Sitting on 750x16 tyres and fresh, pert springs, it was a monster truck, compared to my old tub. I fell in love, agreed to make the purchase and, once insurance cover had been sourced, I headed back to pick up VSK200.
It had been built with the intention of turning it into a true off-roader, but this had not materialised and so it had fitted a 2.25 litres petrol power plant from a later machine. It featured a rivetted together, one piece bonnet, hinged at the bulkhead, offering superb access to the engine bay and all the other giblets. The only disadvantage to this was that I had to carry a broom handle bonnet prop with me wherever I went. It was a superb machine, but not without its problems; during its first week with me, I went to move away from a standing start and…. nothing happened. It had snapped a half shaft. However, being four-wheel drive, I was able to engage this feature and drive home on the slightly ‘baggy’ front axle transmission. It was also the vehicle which suffered the most unusual violation that any of my cars has ever suffered. I often left it parked on the driveway overnight, outside of Flat D, 46 Portland Road, Edgbaston, where I had lived for many years, with its canvas tilt removed and stored inside. You may think this risky, but the canvas was hardly the most secure of mediums and, in any case, it avoided that most heinous of soft top crimes, the slash and grab.
One morning just before loading up and heading off to a performance with my band, ‘Pop Will Eat Itself’ at the ‘Phoenix Festival’ I headed down with the first of my bags, eager for the off. There was the Land Rover, sitting without its canvas tilt on the driveway, as often was the case. But this time, I’d felt sure that I’d left it with its roof in place in readiness for a few days camping backstage and so I headed back inside to retrieve it. The problem was that it was not inside, nor was it on the Land Rover. Some flippin’ blighter had pinched it! This left me with a problem, I hadn’t time to head to John Craddock’s in Cannock, to obtain a new roof and so I had to ask a friend to head there and pick one up for me and then bring it over to the festival, as I was due onstage that afternoon.
This, he duly did, despite not being able to gain entry to the festival for his efforts. Thanks, Steve! As an aside, the amateur footie team in which a couple of the band members played was looking for a name for their newly formed side. One of them took a shine to my Land Rover’s registration number and so the side became known as ‘VSK200’. The birth of my second born was the final nail in the coffin for the old tub, which wasn’t seeing much use, as it hadn’t seatbelt in the rear for my eldest. And so it was sold, for £200.00. The bloke who bought it must still be laughing to this day.
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