LAND-ROVER SERIES II
RUN BY Martin Port OWNED SINCE September 2016 PREVIOUS REPORT Sept 2018 It’s rapidly approaching two years since I took ownership of the transafrica Series II and I’ll admit to still being surprised by the reaction it gets, thanks to its unique decoration. Not a week goes by without someone asking: “Did it really do all that?” Well, the simple answer of course is “yes”, and thanks to its travels the 88in was lucky enough to be selected by Roger Crathorne to be one of 70 Land-rovers to drive up the hill at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed.
With everything from Dunsfold Land Rover’s ‘centre-steer’ replica to more contemporary offerings in attendance, the Series II took its place at the circuit before convoying to the site and embarking on a slow but impressive parade up the hill and past the house. It was uneventful but an honour to be part of, and I breathed a sigh of relief for having completed the drive to Le Mans and back, and then Goodwood, without any issues from the recently overhauled water pump.
Next and final stop of a busy 10 days was a more sobering affair as we said our farewells to chief sub editor David Evans. Naturally, the C&SC team arrived in classics – David regularly drove his BMW and Citroën hundreds of miles in a day, so a trip round the M25 and into London was nothing, but arriving home that evening I noticed that in eight days I’d managed to rack up 900 miles. Needless to say I gave the Landrover an emotionally charged pat before heading inside and smiled to myself that David would still consider that to be peanuts – after all, it’s hardly Blackheath to Tan Hill and back in a day is it?!
With temperatures still being consistently in the 30s through all of this, I can forgive the Series II being a little thirsty, but I’ll admit to expressing some concern when noticing water exiting the radiator overflow when stopping after a long run. Being of a pessimistic disposition didn’t help, as I wondered if perhaps the head gasket had failed, but I managed to temporarily allay my fears when a compression test revealed even and just about acceptable readings across the board.
A subsequent 150-mile roundtrip to Bournemouth in the 88in proved to be productive: not only did I achieve a dip in the sea, but also collected a set of vintage Dunlop tracking gauges courtesy of C&SC reader, Peter Harris, who had kindly offered them after I used a similar set on the Series II.
Crucially, though, the Series II performed faultlessly once again, even if I did return to its streetparked location after a pleasant day on the beach to find a chap asking the familiar “Did it really...?” question once again.
But then, suddenly, things took a turn for the worse as my dad was admitted to hospital. With another mishap taking place, I was left joking to a friend that I’d better not take the Series II when I went visiting later that day, just in case something broke, but I did. Inevitable, really, that when I stopped for fuel on the way home, I stood and watched as a stream of brown, frothy, coffee-like liquid poured out over the forecourt.
This time, though, I didn’t bother with a compression test and whipped the head straight off. The copper gasket didn’t look too bad, but there were signs of leakage between the water jacket and oilways rather than between cylinders.
I ordered an OEM composite gasket and then spent a Saturday morning putting it all back together with help from son Dylan. A quick run up to temperature, a re-torque then it was ready for a proper road test… so I took it to Weymouth!
Apart from a concerning moment when the coolant ‘found its level’ and chucked a bit out on the first stop, it ran noticeably cooler and displayed no further symptoms on the six-hour circuit. Let’s hope it stays that way.
Δ Peter Harris Δ Roger Crathorne
‘I stood and watched as a stream of brown, frothy, coffee-like liquid poured out over the forecourt after I’d stopped for fuel’
Clockwise: convoying through West Sussex before taking to Goodwood hill (below); assistance with fitting the new head gasket; bedding-in involved a 225-mile round trip to Weymouth; contents of radiator confirmed that attention was needed