Everyone says you never forget your first Land Rover, but the other day I was clearing out a cupboard at home and came across some old photographs of the vehicle which really set me on the path to becoming an incurable Land Rover addict.
It wasn’t my first Land Rover that did this to me: that was a cheap Series III Lightweight which broke down almost daily, ran me out of money within months and should have put me off the breed for life. Nor was it the second, a diesel SIIA which I bought cheaply from a dodgy car dealer in Leeds, drove down south in a cloud of blue smoke and sold to an Oxfordshire gamekeeper for a quick profit after a few weeks. The vehicle that got me hooked was number three.
Having just left university in 1990 with no idea of what to do next I was living in a caravan on a cattle farm in Lincolnshire, working as a petrol station cashier and Friday night driver at the local car auction. I had the use of the farm workshop and time on my hands, so I thought I would buy an old vehicle, do it up and sell it on. A Land Rover seemed the obvious choice, and a friend pointed me in the direction of an old boy who had a smallholding, kept a few pigs and chickens and dismantled Land Rovers for spares as a sideline. As soon as I arrived I spotted a light grey 109 truck cab with Texaco stickers on the doors. I had driven past it countless times, abandoned at the front of a closed and derelict village garage. Now it was destined to be broken for spares – unless I wanted to buy it.
The asking price was £400 and I just had to have it, especially with delivery to my home thrown in for free. I didn’t give it a proper inspection, and it was only when it had been dumped in the farmyard that I set about finding what I had got myself into. The answer, inevitably, was a big heap of trouble. On the plus side, it was an original 1960 Series II with straight body panels and all the correct features for the age of vehicle.
However, it had obviously not run for many years and the brakes and clutch were seized, and the rear half of the chassis was absolutely rotten, as were the footwells. The radiator was clogged solid