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

Land Rover Monthly - - Range Rover Restorer - Story and pic­tures: Alisdair Cusick

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.