Gran­dad’s Clas­sic

Ian Arthur could have sold this Range Rover, in bits, for a lot of money. But that would have been un­think­able. He was al­ways go­ing to keep it – right down to the smell


Re­built but re­tains orig­i­nal am­bi­ence

In a Clas­sic, life is won­der­ful. Sub­dued V8 bur­bling, a lit­tle body lean on cor­ners, and the metal­lic blue In Vogue slides ef­fort­lessly through the scenery. You could al­most be in a mod­ern car. Ex­cept, the in­te­rior screams ‘1980s’. Back then, a chunky three-speed auto-shift gear­stick would have looked pur­pose­ful, and brown fab­ric seats were prob­a­bly the height of cool.

But wait a mo! What about th­ese up­hol­stery stains, var­nish flak­ing off the wood trim, and blis­ter­ing steer­ing wheel? And what’s that smell? Beau­ti­ful paint out­side, scruffy in­side...

Ian Arthur is the man with some ex­plain­ing to do. ‘Years ago, my par­ents Nigel and Pamela Arthur had a Se­ries III 109 Sa­fari with elec­tri­cal prob­lems. Even­tu­ally, my mum had had enough of call­ing out dad to make the lights work or stop the horn. So my gran­dad lent them his car – a Vaux­hall Cava­lier MKII.’ Very gen­er­ous – but now gran­dad Les­lie had no car. Eas­ily reme­died, as Ian ex­plains: ‘He lived in Woburn Sands, so he walked along to Woburn – about five miles – with his Old English Sheep­dog. He just went into Woburn Land Rover, the main deal­er­ship, and said, “I need a car”. I don’t think he would have cared what colour it was, prob­a­bly didn’t even care if it was a Range Rover or some­thing else – he just needed a car. This In Vogue was in the show­room, so that’s what he bought. He put his dog in the back and drove away.’ A sales­man’s dream – and that’s how the blue Range Rover ended up with Ian’s fam­ily.

‘He wasn’t a very good driver in his later years,’ Ian tells us. ‘He must have crashed into ev­ery sta­tion­ary ob­ject in Woburn Sands – there wasn’t a straight panel on the car. He be­came known as the lo­cal speed de­ter­rent be­cause he wouldn’t drive at more than 15 miles per hour. Ev­ery year when the car went for its MOT, the garage guys had to take it for a thrash, just to get it to run on all cylin­ders. I re­mem­ber the Range Rover very well, be­cause I was at school and my par­ents both worked at the univer­sity and didn’t get home un­til about 6.30pm.

‘I used to walk from school up to my gran­dad’s house. We’d have what I called “gran­dad cook­ing”. He didn’t like to cook, so mostly we had fish and chips, and we’d eat them sit­ting on the Range Rover’s tail­gate.

‘Later, when I was older, the Range Rover failed its MOT and the garage said it wasn’t worth

fix­ing – this is years ago, of course. I said that I’d fix it, then my gran­dad died. But I de­cided I’d still keep my prom­ise, so it went to a big barn where I didn’t have to pay any rent, and I started work.

‘And then... well, my wife Rachael fell preg­nant with Nathan, then there was Olivia, and then mort­gages, the day job – things sort of took over. Life gets in the way, doesn’t it? I could pop over to the barn and do a bit of work if I had time, and it wasn’t cost­ing anything. But that kind of sit­u­a­tion doesn’t make you get on with the job. Re­ally, I wasn’t do­ing much.’

If it ain’t broke...

Ian’s very leisurely progress with the restora­tion was about to come to an end, though: ‘The barn came up for re-de­vel­op­ment. De­ci­sion time for the Range Rover – I had to either do it, or sell it. I’d been of­fered £15,000, just as it was, in bits. A good of­fer, but I wanted to keep the car. My garage is very small, though, so I needed help. That’s when it went to Mark’s place, for welding.’

Here, Mark Pal­lett (known to most peo­ple as ‘Beefy’) takes up the story. ‘I only have a small en­gi­neer­ing work­shop and I don’t weld cars,’ he says. ‘I’ve got Land Rovers of my own – an 86inch and a Se­ries II. Mark asked me if I’d weld his Range Rover, and I said no. Then he asked again and told me the fam­ily his­tory. I felt sorry for him, so I went over to his place to look.

‘It wasn’t too bad, so I said that I’d do it – pas­sen­ger footwell, sill, spare wheel well, bot­toms of the A-pil­lars, seat­bases. I had to clear the ma­chin­ery in the work­shop, and there was only just room to get a Range Rover in...’

Which was good, but also bad.‘ Beefy fin­ished the welding in just two days. Ian ex­plains: ‘He had to, be­cause he couldn’t do any other work with my Range Rover in his work­shop. So it then came to my house. As there’s just no room in my garage, ev­ery time I wanted to do any work, it had to be pushed out­side.’

All the pan­els had been dam­aged, so Ian tapped out the dents and did all the prepa­ra­tion for paint – though the painter in­sisted on flat­ting down most of it again. With the pan­els away he was able to work on the rest. A lot of it was just ser­vic­ing, be­cause it hadn’t done many miles.

Ian’s ap­proach was log­i­cal – if it wasn’t bro­ken, he didn’t fix it. He put in some in­su­la­tion ma­te­rial and cleaned the in­te­rior and seats. ‘But I didn’t clean too much, be­cause there’s a smell I re­mem­ber from when I was a kid – maybe gran­dad’s sheep­dog,’ he says. ‘The pan­els came back from paint­ing one or two at a time and I hung them on the car straight away – there was so lit­tle space, I had nowhere else to put them.’

From the point where it ar­rived at Ian’s house, work took 18 months. ‘When I got its MOT, that was just fan­tas­tic af­ter all that time.’

‘I’d been of­fered £15,000, just as it was, in bits. A good of­fer, but I wanted to keep the car’

Then Now Ian with Nathan, Olivia and wife Rachael car­ry­ing on the fam­ily din­ing tra­di­tion. Dave Mor­ris (Ian’s dad’s mate), Ian’s sis­ter Mar­ion, a very young Ian and his mum Pam.

Dam­age caused by crashed Spit­fire No bar­rel means no more lost keys!

‘What’s that smell, daddy?’ ‘Great-gran­dad and wet dog’

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