WORK IN PROGRESS
NEKKIES SMIT, INDEPENDENT LAND ROVER SPECIALIST, SOUTH AFRICA
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.