Life a er re­tire­ment

Af­ter spend­ing 53 years work­ing on an es­tate, this Se­ries I was given some much-needed love and is now en­joy­ing her free time with new owner Alan Fal­coner. Bob Weir in­ves­ti­gates

Land Rover Monthly - - Contents -

Af­ter spend­ing 53 years work­ing on an es­tate, this Se­ries I is now en­joy­ing a new lease of life

Alan Fal­coner has been a big fan of Land Rovers since the late 1980s, when he bought a sec­ond­hand Ninety to use dur­ing the win­ter months. “I didn’t know any­thing about Land Rovers at the time, and in hind­sight I landed on my feet and bought a right bel­ter,” he re­calls.

“There was no sign of any rust, as it had spent all its life work­ing on one of the Scot­tish es­tates. This meant that the 4x4 hadn’t suf­fered from the ef­fects of the road salt the coun­cils use dur­ing win­ter. This can play havoc with a ve­hi­cle’s met­al­work. Look­ing back it wasn’t un­til I sold the Landy and bought a 110, that I re­alised how for­tu­nate I’d been.”

Al­though a self-em­ployed joiner now, dur­ing the 1990s Alan started work­ing on Land Rovers in his spare time, and soon ac­quired a lo­cal rep­u­ta­tion for re­fur­bish­ing the ve­hi­cles. He re­veals: “I’ve al­ways been hands-on and en­joy a chal­lenge. Early Land Rovers are fairly straight­for­ward to re­pair and I started ex­per­i­ment­ing with other set-ups. Th­ese in­cluded fit­ting a Dai­hatsu 2.8-litre diesel into the Ninety, which cer­tainly im­proved the ve­hi­cle’s per­for­mance.”

It also sparked a passion for the brand in gen­eral, with Alan go­ing on to own a Range Rover P38 and a cou­ple of Clas­sics – more re­cently he has bought a two-door, which is still very much a work in progress.

But I’m here to talk to him about his 1955 86-inch Se­ries I. The 2.0-litre [se­rial no: 170601943] model was orig­i­nally bought by a Mr Frank Allen of Lumphanan by Ban­chory on De­cem­ber 6, 1955. The deal­ers were Rossleigh Ltd, based in Aberdeen. Mr Allen drove the car on a reg­u­lar ba­sis for the next 53 years, and had it ser­viced and Mot’d at a lo­cal garage.

Alan ac­quired the SI in De­cem­ber 2008, but re­mem­bers it was a bit of a bumpy ride. “MSA 165 was one of five Land Rovers still work­ing on Frank Allen’s es­tate. The other four were all 90s, and were about to be sold to a car dealer. The dealer had also been of­fered the Se­ries I, but the older Land Rover wasn’t his type of thing. He knew I was on the look­out for one, how­ever, and got in touch. One thing led to an­other and I drove up to Ban­chory with my trailer to meet Mr Allen.

“It quickly be­came ob­vi­ous that he still had a soft spot for MSA 165 or ‘Missy’ as I’ve since re-chris­tened her. Frank told me some great sto­ries about the ve­hi­cle, and how it had been very much a part of his fam­ily. Missy was his sec­ond Se­ries I, and he told me how the Land Rover had been in­valu­able for get­ting around the es­tate dur­ing the win­ter months.” Snow is a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence in ru­ral Aberdeen­shire, and the only other ve­hi­cle that could han­dle the con­di­tions was the es­tate’s trac­tor.

He goes on: “He also told me that even though he sub­se­quently bought sev­eral mod­ern Land Rovers, he re­fused to let Missy go. The Se­ries I was still used reg­u­larly on the es­tate, first by the es­tate man­ager, and then the game­keeper. When Mr Allen fi­nally re­tired, he even req­ui­si­tioned the Land Rover for his fishing trips.”

Ac­cord­ing to Alan, Frank’s daugh­ter and son-in-law were now run­ning the es­tate, and they were look­ing to dis­pose of MSA 165 as part of a gen­eral clear-out.

“It was ob­vi­ous that Frank was still at­tached to the Se­ries I, so I sug­gested he ought to keep it for his own per­sonal use,” Alan says. “Then the son-in-law turned up de­mand­ing to know what I was go­ing to of­fer for his Land Rover. The con­ver­sa­tion got a bit heated when I pointed out that Frank was the real owner, and if he wanted to hang on to the ve­hi­cle that was his busi­ness. I don’t think my words were well re­ceived and I de­cided to with­draw from the sale and drive back to Dundee.”

Al­though Alan was very dis­ap­pointed, there was still a twist in the tale.

He said: “Frank rang me a few days later, thank­ing me for my time and con­sid­er­a­tion. Af­ter fur­ther re­flec­tion he had de­cided to go ahead with the sale, so I drove back up to Ban­chory to con­clude the ar­range­ments. De­spite my will­ing­ness to pay fair value for the Se­ries I, he in­sisted on sell­ing me the ve­hi­cle for its orig­i­nal price. A true gen­tle­man, if ever there was one.”

Hav­ing sealed the deal, Alan trail­ered the Se­ries I back to Dundee. He then started plan­ning the Land Rover’s restora­tion. “Al­though the ve­hi­cle had a valid MOT, it was look­ing the worse for wear,” he re­calls. “The footwells and

“As is typ­i­cal with most restora­tions there was a lot more work in­volved once I ac­tu­ally got down to it”

rear chas­sis were both a bit rough, and needed a lot of work. Read­ing be­tween the lines the lo­cal garage would have been aware that the Land Rover was only be­ing used around the es­tate, and had just patched things up when nec­es­sary.

“The first thing I did was strip out the body. I then bought new bulk­heads and out­rig­gers from Rad­ford Broth­ers near Peter­head. They spe­cialise in gal­vanised body parts for the Se­ries I. As is typ­i­cal with most restora­tions, I dis­cov­ered there was a lot more work in­volved once I ac­tu­ally got down to it.

“I cut out the parts for the footwells with a plasma cut­ter, and a friend of mine helped me weld them into place. Once I had fin­ished with the body, I then re­built the en­gine. This turned out be quite an ex­pen­sive job, as vir­tu­ally all the parts had to be re­placed.”

Hav­ing gone to the ef­fort of re­build­ing the en­gine, Alan de­cided to treat the block to a new coat of paint. He says: “Un­for­tu­nately, I ended up us­ing the wrong shade. The ex­ist­ing colour was a stan­dard green. I was told by an en­thu­si­ast that the cor­rect shade should be a mix­ture of blue and grey. I then came across an ar­ti­cle in a spe­cial­ist mag­a­zine that stated the cor­rect paint for an en­gine re­con­di­tioned by the Rover Com­pany was in fact a bluish green. Still, you can’t win them all.”

Al­though he repainted the en­gine, Alan de­cided to leave the rest of the Land Rover in its orig­i­nal state. “My fa­ther used to say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and it had taken 54 years to get the Land Rover’s patina the way it is now, so I de­cided to leave well alone.”

All in all, it took two years to re­store Missy to her cur­rent state. The fol­low­ing show sea­son, Alan started tak­ing the Land Rover to lo­cal ral­lies. De­spite the dis­crep­ancy with the en­gine’s paint­work, no one has no­ticed at the Se­ries One Club events where she fre­quents. In fact, at the club’s 2014 In­ter­na­tional Rally, Missy won an award for the ‘the most orig­i­nal Se­ries One’, out of over 100 con­tes­tants.

“A lot of the en­thu­si­asts have been around Se­ries Is for years. and they cer­tainly know their stuff, yet no­body has picked up on the paint,” he muses.

Like many en­thu­si­asts, Alan has his favourite ral­lies. Top of the list is the Scot­tish Trans­port Ex­trav­a­ganza, held each July at Glamis Cas­tle.

He said: “Missy’s first out­ing was at Glamis. I put the ve­hi­cle on the Se­ries One Club stand and it was well re­ceived. Much to my sur­prise a cou­ple of el­derly gentle­men ap­proached me, and said they could re­call driv­ing the Land Rover when it was work­ing on the Lumphanan es­tate. It turned out they were none other than the for­mer game­keeper and head gar­dener. They also told me about a time when the Land Rover’s en­gine blew up, af­ter it had got stuck in wa­ter.

“Three years later I was ap­proached by an­other gen­tle­man, with con­nec­tions to the es­tate. It turned out he was the very me­chanic from the lo­cal garage, which had looked af­ter the Land Rover for all those years and had re­placed the en­gine. af­ter it had blown up!”

Al­though Missy is still used on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, Alan takes good care of the Se­ries I. He says: “She is in re­tire­ment now so if we do go out, we don’t do any­thing too stren­u­ous. Need­less to say, I in­tend hang­ing on to the ve­hi­cle for the fore­see­able fu­ture.”

Al­though the Se­ries I had a valid MOT the footwells and rear chas­sis needed a lot of work

The en­gine was re­built al­though much of the ex­te­rior re­mains orig­i­nal

Alan’s other love in his life, a Whit­bread V8 buggy

Tow bar hints at its for­mer life as a work­horse

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.