I purchased my first land rover about eleven years ago. It was an old discovery series one 300 TDI. I had no thoughts of doing anything out of the ordinary with it and its prime use was to be a dog transporter, as there was no way i was going to put our newly aquired dog, a Newfoundland drooling machine in my Jaguar. As you can see from the photo we added to Newfoundland family a few years later. The truck was brilliant and served its purpose so well for our excursions up to the lake district. The Discovery was really an amazing vehicle as to how much gear you can pack in them including wifey and dogs.
The trouble with landrovers, is that there is a lot of aftersale gear that you can buy to bling your truck up and it is very easy to bolt on. So on went the side steps, bull bar, headlight protectors, spotlights and all terrian tyres, great i thought now to try it with a bit off gentle offroading. The first thing i found out with offroading, is that green lanes can be quite narrow and they dont like bits sticking out from the car. That was the end off the side steps and of they came. The next offroad adventure was a pay and play day at a farm site near us. Now this was a whole new learning experience, of how to get stuck in a lot of different ways and also to rip of the nice bits off bling that was recently fitted to the car. I really enjoyed the day, or more than likely the hour that i managed to spend driving without being stuck. So a complete rethink was required and it was back to the landrover bling shop. One new winch, winch bumper and mud tyres later i felt raring to go. In the meantime i had discovered a new (to me) landrover activity, or as i would soon discover how to wreck your truck.
My steep learning curve in how to wreck a landrover, meant it needed frequent repairing and i was introduced to Andy Hewett.
Andy who owns a mechanical/fabrication buisness was also very much into the land rover scene and there wasn’t a lot that he didn’t know about them. He also owned an awesome defender 90 which you just drooled over. Over the years Andy became a very good friend and helped me out no end with my little truck problems. He also introduced me into the next two steps in my offroad adventure, the trial and the punch hunt.
The trial was a course set up which covered a route through varying terrian where you would have to drive your truck through gates made up off two poles with the idea off not hitting them. There would be ten gates with a decreasing score as you manouvered through them. Once you hit a gate that would be your score. The winner would be the one with the lowest amout off points. The problem with the Discovery was manouverability and the overall truck length, it didn’t have the ability of the defender and also the driver might have been a bit crap. I also found out that the tree is not your friend and lost a few rear windows to my cost. Still this did not deter me and after a bit more armour plating, ie chequer plating on the rear windows and a set of rock sliders, on we went, next the punch hunt.
The punch hunt, now if anything was going to futher wreck my poor old discovery this was it. Basically what it entails, is having a numbered card tethered to the grab bar on the passenger side by about a metre long cable. You then drive through the site looking for the punches which are about the size of a plastic clothes peg and indent your card with the punch. Now believe me when i say that these punches are set out on the course by sadists, and great care must be taken when trying to get to some of these punches, because your truck was not the only thing that could end up broken. Still it did add to the excitement. But as i said earlier my poor old disco suffered, i dont think there was any panel that wasn’t battered, the steering had about eight inches of play so driving in a straight line could be a bit hairy, so i had to come up with another plan. The Defender.
I had put in an ebay bid for a half decent looking defender but lost out. Andy gave me a ring that afternoon, and said there was one on ebay down in Cornwall looking for a quick sale. I rang the guy up, said i would come and have a look, and that was me, proud owner of a bright orange defender 90. What an incredible truck and what fun we had over the years with it.
A lot of modifications were carried out to the truck, but all that was to enhance the trucks abillity and protection. Luckily a lot of the bits were interchangeable from my disco and what wasn’t i just sold as there was always someone looking for land rover bits. I was a member of a few clubs and during the summer they would have a weekend campover, which would end up as a great laugh. My youngest daughter would come with me as my crew and also the camping weekends, so a bit of father/daughter bonding and some quite major hangovers could be the norm. The day of Carlys wedding, she didn’t want any posh car as her wedding vehicle, just my old orange defender as her wedding car. Made me so proud, well apart from the week of graft that it took to clean all the shite out of the truck and make it look presentable. We also had two range rovers to ferry my wife Kim and the bridesmaids to the venue, so it was a nice little land rover theme for the wedding transport.
With the demise of the disco i had to get another dog transporter, a friend of mine had just got a range rover and let me have a drive, that was me smitten, so the jag got traded for a 3.0tdi series three range rover. Probably the best road car i have ever owned, comfortable roomy, you can get a few bridesmaids in their and really not to bad on fuel, if you considerd what you were lugging around and the comfort of the ride.I had the range rover for about eight years before i sold it, really sad to see it go. All in all, the landrovers that i have owned have been fantastic vehicles in their own way and have provided a source of real enjoyment over the years. Even now it still astounds me of the capability of these cars.