What's the story?
This isn’t an AA van you come across every day; it’s a lovely six-cylinder Series III 109in Station Wagon and one of the 40 or so vehicles that make up the AA’s Heritage Fleet. This Land Rover is one of the latest additions: but although it’s new to the Heritage Fleet, it’s not new to the AA. The 109’s custodian is Brian Evans, ‘something of an AA legend’, as one of his colleagues calls him.
The Land Rover was bought new by the AA in August 1976. For the first six years of its life that legendary versatility came into its own as it worked as a support vehicle for the company’s larger recovery trucks.
Those strenuous days are behind this particular Land Rover, which now enjoys a mollycoddled life in its new promotional role. But it nearly wasn’t so lucky.
After being sold by the AA in 1982, the 109 disappeared until 2008 when it was rediscovered as a shabby basket case by Brian’s friend and fellow AA patrolman Tony Knott. Over the next four years, Tony returned the vehicle to its former glory, just in time for the handover to its new owner, the AA’s director of road operations Steve Dewey.
Although originality was the principal theme throughout the build, one or two concessions have been made to adapt the 109 for its current role, including adding a Fairey overdrive as it covers long distances all over the country.
Our favourite bit?
At first the straight-six needs some encouragement from the choke, but as the engine warms up she’s soon bombing along, throbbing and rumbling like only an old Land Rover can. Everything’s very smooth and solid, and she even performs a U-turn with – for a 109 – considerable elan.
And the verdict from LRO writer Theo Ford-Sagers?
‘It’s quite an honour to be behind the wheel of such a cherished classic that unites these two great British institutions – the AA and Land Rover. Its role in the AA may have evolved over the decades, but that’s just proof of the enduring versatility, and loveability, of an old Land Rover.’
Engine: 2.6-litre 6cyl petrol
Transmission: Four-speed manual with Fairey overdrive, low-range transfer box and selectable four-wheel drive
Suspension: Leaf springs, with 1-Ton uprated rear springs