Introducing the rufty-tufty mountain machine
1968 LAND ROVER SERIES IIA
‘Urgh, that’s so unhygienic. I’m being rained on. I can’t believe you actually drive this thing. Ouch! Something sounds wrong, is it OK? Ow!’
It’s a familiar recital by now, one that’s typically hurled from the passenger seat when I introduce ‘Glug’ to a friend for the first time. Fortunately, their alarm usually mellows into admiration when they realise how tough this old beast is, and the hilarity it can deliver in the mud.
GLG 525G was a non-runner when I found it eight years ago, but I knew it was fundamentally solid. Some tinkering followed, after which it wobbled to its first MoT and came back fit as a fiddle, the tester explaining to me with a puzzled look that he’d cured the wobble by sort of, er, attaching bulkhead properly. I’ve learned a lot since then…
It’s a hodgepodge of different Series Land Rovers, but mechanically it’s all 1960s/70s spec, from its 2.25-litre petrol engine to its Fairey overdrive and four-speed non-synchromesh gearbox. Synchro was for vegetarians in the ‘60s.
I have made one or two concessions to the modern world though. There’s a Britpart LED light bar on the front and I couldn’t resist having the vinyl seats fitted with electric bum-toasters. If it wasn’t for the little switches next to the seats, you’d never know they were there.
The highlight of my life with Glug so far is definitely our journey to the Italian Alps, made a couple of summers ago in convoy with a couple of mates, Ben and Sam, in Ben’s 1949 Series I 80in. His knowledge of Series Land Rovers makes him handy to have around when you’re stuck on an Alp with an overheating fuel pump. Eventually we found the solution: stick the bonnet in the back to help the engine keep cool. It stayed there all the way back to Calais.
At home Glug lives alongside my late Discovery 1. Then there’s my recently-acquired Alfa Romeo 145 Cloverleaf, the survivor of a dying breed of oldschool hot hatches. But those are for a future Our Classics…
Fun begins as the discomfort subsides.
Descending an Italian Alp, sans bonnet.