IS THAT AN ELE­PHANT I SEE?

Land Rover Monthly - - Letters -

I would like to thank Billy Best for tak­ing the courage to point his fin­ger at the ele­phant in the room (Let­ters, Win­ter). It needed to be done, and it took some­one as forthright as Billy to do it.

Billy is oddly silent about what he does like, but I guess that he drives a late Dis­cov­ery 1 or older De­fender and has a pen­chant for en­gine snorkels, knob­bly tyres and che­quer plate. Per­haps he takes an oc­ca­sional trip off-road and some­times ex­plores the con­ti­nent to find some se­cluded hilly lanes. Noth­ing wrong with this, it’s all great stuff. But here is the ele­phant in the room: to read about th­ese ex­ploits in a mag­a­zine is as ex­cit­ing as an evening be­ing forced to look at my neigh­bour’s holiday pho­tos.

I won’t at­tempt to con­vince Billy about the huge sat­is­fac­tion to be had res­cu­ing and restor­ing a Land Rover that played some im­por­tant role in Lode Lane’s his­tory. I am not go­ing to urge Billy to con­trib­ute to the preser­va­tion of Land Rover’s her­itage or tell him about the thrill when a vis­i­tor ap­proaches you at a show to say “I used that ve­hi­cle when I worked for Land Rover.” I will keep quiet about the ter­rific con­ti­nen­tal road trips we have taken in our res­cued Rovers.

I do worry about Billy, though. He seems a lit­tle too con­cerned about his dis­in­ter­est in what other peo­ple do. I am not a psy­chol­o­gist, Billy, but do you need to come out of the closet? Do you ac­tu­ally want one of th­ese his­toric Land Rovers you seem to de­ride? Per­haps you could buy a G4 or a Camel Tro­phy ve­hi­cle? It’s quite safe – they are his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant in Land Rover’s story and they come with snorkels and big tyres as stan­dard. You could even progress to a press launch Range Rover. Did you know that sev­eral pre-pro­duc­tion P38 Range Rovers were used off-road in Botswana and Patag­o­nia as part of the 1994 press launch? Many of th­ese are yet to be found… who knows, one may be lurk­ing on ebay right now.

The ele­phant in the room is that Land Rover en­thu­si­asts tend to fall into two dis­tinct groups. There are those who see their Land Rover as a blank can­vas to mod­ify and sat­isfy an urge to roam; and then there are those who see them­selves as res­cue-ar­chae­ol­o­gists who get a thrill out of dis­cov­er­ing, pre­serv­ing and re­search­ing some rot­ting ve­hi­cle that once played an im­por­tant part in the Land Rover story. Visit any Land Rover show in the UK and you can spot th­ese groups quite clearly.

Win­ston Churchill once said: “I dis­agree with your view, but I will de­fend to the death your right to say it.” Billy, I dis­agree with your nar­row-minded view, but I strongly be­lieve that ex­cel­lent mag­a­zines such as LRM thrive be­cause they cater for both groups of Land Rover en­thu­si­ast. Adrian Em­ble­ton Don­caster The Land Rover move­ment is a broad church, Adrian, and we agree that there’s room for all en­thu­si­asts of ev­ery per­sua­sion – Ed.

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