ROVERS OF A LIFETIME
Alisdair Cusick meets one man with a million Land Rover stories to tell, which can all be neatly summed up in three vehicles
We all love a Land Rover character. You know some yourself, I’m sure. People who may have had a few cars, done some interesting things, or are just fun to be around. One person who ticks all those boxes is Lincoln Hunt, from the West Midlands. Whilst some people may have had a few products from Solihull, he pretty much takes that to excess. “I’ve had probably 300,” he laughs, “and there’s a story with every one.” He’s not joking, as you’re about to find out, for inside that grand total are three unique cars that neatly sum up his life.
“My dad, Gordon John Hunt, was a car nut and he gave me a passion for cars,” says Lincoln. An electrician by trade, Mr Hunt Senior bought a Range Rover new in 1971. It was the family car, and as such towed their caravan to the Lake District, Rhyl or Minehead most weekends. Lincoln recalls many happy family trips in the car, growing up with brother Elton and sister Tracy. “I can particularly remember lying in the footwell, driving along and the engine noise would send me to sleep” he says. He’s got all the classic tales of growing up with a Range Rover, including cutting little bare legs from the cracked vinyl seats that got so hot from the summer sun they were impossible to sit on.
The car did everything the family did, including being
shipped via Southampton to Canada in 1976, where the Hunt family used it to visit relatives for three months. Imagine the fun of that trip.
Moving on and Lincoln learnt to drive, obviously gravitating to Land Rovers, but taking in all sorts of vehicles. His second car was a Series III, but he has also had Rover SD1S, a P6 estate and P5s, a Wolseley Hornet – plus a veritable hoard of Range Rovers.
A constant stream of Solihull metal passed through his ownership. “CSKS, early cars, you name it, I’ve had them,” he says.
“I went to auctions with Dad and bought job lots of Range Rovers, plus all sorts of other stuff. Eventually I had to scrap a lot of them as they were just worthless at the time. It’s criminal looking back, but lots of good, early cars just weren’t worth anything to anyone back then.” So much so, he used to go banger racing with his dad, in P5s, Granadas and Cortinas. For one meet Lincoln actually raced an early Tuscan Blue two-door in the 4x4 section. “It was mint, really, but I stripped the interior out, built an A frame around the front and driver, moved the fuel tank and competed in it. It just kept going. I also raced a few P38s – they did quite well, actually – but my mate won that year in a Discovery,” he says.
Banger racing old Land Rovers may seem shocking now, but it is equivalent to using early Discos to extreme off-road in their final years of MOT life today.
Back to the 1971 two-door and time moved on. Gordon’s
Range Rover was finally agreed to be sold to Lincoln in 1989. On one condition: if it was ever sold, it would only be sold back to his dad. By this point the car was 18 years old, had panels all in odd colours around the original Sahara Dust and had seen many running repairs by his father and a friend, David Anslow. Now in Lincoln’s ownership, David was again called on for help and advice to get the car back on the road, which sure enough he did. Later still, Gordon drove it on the January 13, 1991; the last time he would do so, for he sadly passed away the next day.
Lincoln continued to use and improve the car. As the years went by, he sorted the body and changed the engine to a later 3.5-litre. “The car went through various different phases in its lifetime,” says Lincoln. “It’s been a tow car, off-roader, work car and now a project car.”
In 2017, after 318,000 miles, it now has an astonishing spec. There’s a galvanised shell and chassis, 4.3 V8 using a TVR bottom end on Efi (on the original gearbox and transfer box), vented brakes, HD springs and Decarbon shocks, early factory Freestyle alloys wearing 255/65 Pirellis and a fabulous Nappa leather interior to compliment the metallic blue paintwork. As a standalone vehicle, it is superb, before you even consider the family story.
There’s some great details too, like the interior, which was done by the legendary Trevor at Nationwide Trim. “I gave Trev a free reign. My only stipulation was that I wanted Nappa leather – little knowing it was three times the price,” he laughs. Touchingly, Lincoln had the original steering wheel retrimmed, but instead of removing the original leather cover, he asked for it to be covered over. “I’ll always know that underneath my cover is the one my Dad used; it would still have the dirt from his hands on.”
That is a great car in itself, but our story doesn’t end there. Enter another Suffix A that is the total polar opposite.
“This is my everyday hack,” says Lincoln, as we walk around a scruffy but likeable two-door. Matt paintwork roughly sprayed, even brushed on, a 200Tdi and five-speed LT77 gearbox plus big Roo bar. This is definitely a workhorse rather than show pony. Still, it is solid, no thanks to a typically Lincoln-style shopping spree. “I bought a shell for this one
evening – admittedly after having a beer,” he recalls. “It was rust-free and I thought the advert said it was in Derby; the next day I got a confirmation email – it turned out it wasn’t Derby, it was in Dubai!” He can laugh now, but he at least got the shell back to the UK, and it is here today on the 200,000mile car.
Two cars down, our story continues... to go alongside the chalk-and-cheese Land Rovers, comes another, with yet a different theme. Enter his 1973 Suffix B, bought in 2011. The plan was to restore this one to be the car Lincoln remembered from his childhood. “...and less dents,” he laughs.
It was found on ebay nd like all good buyers he went to see the car first. Chatting to the owner and explaining the plan to recreate the car from his childhood, the seller later decided to pull the advert a few days later. He wanted the car to go to Lester, rather than the highest bidder.
He started work on it about a year later, sorting the welding, brakes and going through the steering system. The body damage was repaired, the roof changed and it was resprayed in Sahara Dust to match his father’s car. That’s where it basically got to as I photographed it.
Early Range Rovers are very much in the spotlight at the moment. If you want one, you’ll probably pay a premium, and unless you have a complete car (very rare) you’ll instead need to have a stock of the bits everyone else is looking for, too. Thanks to a lifetime of previous cars, Lincoln has that vital stock of parts, including the rarer ones. “To be honest, the LRM photoshoot has spurred me on to get it on the road and to shows,” says Lincoln.
There you have it. One man, a lifetime of Land Rovers and a trio of cars that neatly sums up his life to date, with a heavy nod of respect to the father he idolised.
“The blue one is Dad’s, which is history; it is family and I’d never sell it. The red one is my car, and I love it for what it is, but the white one is to bring back memories of the good times, and to take my family out in today.”
It is funny really. A car is just a collection of parts, sold as a commodity to serve a purpose. It does a job, like a knife, a pen or a streetlight. Yet what we do with an item gives it life, significance and meaning. In using his cars, with the important people in his life, Lincoln has turned a functional item into something that means much more than just the task it performs.
There’s a lesson in here for all of us. Have a Land Rover; use your Land Rover, but most of all, enjoy your Land Rover with people close to you. Because when you do, years later, you’ve got something like Lincoln has. Land Rovers that are irreplaceable; Land Rovers for life.
“Early Range Rovers are very much in the spot-light, if you want one you’ll pay a premium”
This page: This 1971 two-door used to belong to Lincoln’s father and now boasts an enviable spec – suffice to say it’s a family heirloom
This page: In complete contrast, this other two-door is Lincoln’s daily. With brushed-on paintwork and a big Roo bar, it’s more workhorse than show pony
Left and below: This 1973 Range Rover is being restored. It brings back fond memories of the times Lincoln had as a young child