WORK IN PROGRESS

NEKKIES SMIT, IN­DE­PEN­DENT LAND ROVER SPECIALIST, SOUTH AFRICA

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents -

Ev­ery­one wants to own an early Se­ries I. Where did you find yours?

I pur­chased it from a chap who lives in Her­manus, the town along the touristy Gar­den Route which is fa­mous for its whale watch­ing. I heard that it was for sale from an­other en­thu­si­ast who lives in the same town. I had pur­chased sev­eral Land Rovers from him in the past and he knew that I was on the look­out for a good early Se­ries I.

What sort of con­di­tion was it in?

As you can see from the pic­ture it was a real beauty and a rare find. There was no rust in the fire­wall or on the chas­sis. De­spite the fact that some­one had done a few mod­i­fi­ca­tions to it, all the im­por­tant bits were still orig­i­nal. Se­ries Is in this sort of con­di­tion are very hard to find, even in sunny South Africa. The more com­plete and cor­rect they are when you find them, the bet­ter, of course, and where we are, so the more com­plete the bet­ter. Restor­ing one prop­erly is an ex­pen­sive ex­er­cise.

So how long un­til it’s fin­ished?

I pur­chased it about four years ago and it’s still a fair way off from where I want it to be.

What did you do af­ter pur­chas­ing it?

The first thing I did was to give it a proper clean us­ing a high pres­sure hose. I must ad­mit that it cleaned up rather well. The guys I pur­chased it from used it for 4x4 trails so it was very muddy. The day I picked it up his son cried when I loaded it up. It was not nice.

Does it have the orig­i­nal en­gine.

The orig­i­nal en­gine was re­placed by the more pow­er­ful 2.25 by one of its pre­vi­ous own­ers. The en­gine and driv­e­train are in per­fect nick. I won’t be chang­ing them to orig­i­nal as there are not many spares avail­able for them over here. We will just clean ev­ery­thing up, re­place any seals, sand­blast metal parts and then re­spray and re­assem­ble.

What about the chas­sis?

I sand­blasted it and then gal­vanised it to help in­crease its longevity. I live about 40 miles from the Cape Coast and as you know sea air is not good for a Land Rover.

Where are you with the project now?

At the mo­ment it is a rolling chas­sis with all the ma­jor com­po­nents al­ready re­done. I am just wait­ing for some of the bits from the panel beat­ers. I out­sourced this as we are not al­lowed to carry out panel beat­ing on our premises. Most of the non-orig­i­nal parts that I will be replacing with orig­i­nal ones have al­ready been sourced and will be fit­ted once the body­work is back from the panel beat­ers. I am get­ting there slowly.

Tough­est part of the project so far?

Find­ing time, as I run two very busy in­de­pen­dent work­shops, so re­build­ing ve­hi­cles for clients ob­vi­ously takes top pri­or­ity.

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