For the 13th year run­ning, Dave marks the birthday of his De­fender with a trip to a fa­mous Land Rover

Land Rover Monthly - - Writers' Rovers - T DAVE BARKER

he an­nual drive down to the Land Rover show in July is al­ways spe­cial for me. Not just be­cause I’m go­ing to the orig­i­nal, big­gest and most fa­mous Land Rover event of them all, and the one I was in­volved with at the very start, but it also marks my De­fend­ers’ birthday. Well, sort off.

Back in 2004 the first real jour­ney my De­fender ever made of any distance was down to Billing. It had been on the road for about two weeks be­fore I hitched the car­a­van on the back and headed off to Billing. I re­mem­ber it had some­thing like 200 miles on the clock, so by the time I ar­rived at Billing Aquadrome that had al­most dou­bled. I also re­mem­ber when I ar­rived the en­gine wouldn’t stop run­ning when I turned the ig­ni­tion off. So I had to stall the en­gine to stop it (fun­nily enough, I never had that prob­lem again).

Since then, my De­fender had been to the Land Rover show at Billing every year, and with the show at a new lo­ca­tion this year, namely Kelmarsh Hall, 2017’s shenani­gans were a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. I have to say though the move was a big suc­cess – it’s a great lo­ca­tion for the show.

The month prior to the show marks my De­fender’s MOT time, which is al­ways a bit wor­ry­ing. You hope even af­ter you have given it a check over that ev­ery­thing is in work­ing and safe or­der, but you never know what the MOT tester might find. This year it went through with­out a prob­lem, not even an ad­vi­sory or a com­ment. So that was all good.

Since that first jour­ney in 2004 my De­fender has clocked up 82,000 miles and it’s changed a bit. Me­chan­i­cally it’s still very much the same, other than a re­place­ment gear­box. It’s still on the same ex­haust sys­tem, so buy­ing a stain­less steel one has paid off. But there have been a lot of other changes over the years: side win­dows have been fit­ted, a winch, in­ter­nal roll bar and I’m on my third set of tyres.

On the down­side, some bits of the body­work are now start­ing to show signs of cor­ro­sion. I guess at some point in the not too dis­tant fu­ture I need to do some­thing about it be­fore large holes start ap­pear­ing. There does seem to be a new draught com­ing in around the bot­tom of the driver’s door, which I should prob­a­bly check out.

Over­all, I’m look­ing for­ward to another year of mo­tor­ing in my De­fender!

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