What's the story?
Down at Scott Meredith’s local builders’ merchant, every van is white. With one exception – his. Nobody’s laughing, though – and some White Van Men are eyeing Scott’s 101 Forward Control with what looks suspiciously like envy.
‘That’s a very unusual thing, Scott’s Land Rover,’ says one. ‘I’ve never seen another like it. I bet he’s the only plasterer in the world using one for work! It seems to be okay for him.’ He slams the back doors of his white van before adding: ‘And I bet that thing doesn’t have any problems when it snows, either.’ He takes a last, thoughtful look at the Land Rover before driving off.
All of this goes back 19 years, when Scott was struggling with a Series III and a trailer. ‘Plasterboard went on the roof rack, and everything could be put in the Land Rover or on the trailer,’ he says. ‘But it was a bit problematic. Then one day I got a lift in a mate’s 101 and took a look in the back. I got a tape measure and it turned out it’s just long enough for a sheet of plasterboard, with a few millimetres to spare.’ A thirsty V8 Forward Control wouldn’t be everyone’s idea of a builder’s van, but Scott could see potential. The Series III was replaced by a 101.
Straight away he started using it for work. Then the next year he took it to Billing. ‘It was easily the worst one there. The back crossmember was badly welded, and it was a mess. I decided it’d have to be smartened up, so I bought another 101 – well, most of a 101 – from a guy in Somerset. I stripped them both down and chose the best bits to make one compete vehicle.’
Scott galvanized the chassis – in fact, almost everything steel was galvanized. He rebuilt the gearbox and put in a new clutch, this took six months. Since it was rebuilt nothing’s been done to it, apart from a repaint.
But a 101 as a builder’s truck? V8 instead of diesel? Does that make sense? Scott just laughs. ‘Yes everybody thinks like that. But this is on LPG – so when you work out the fuel cost it isn’t far behind the Transits. And think about this: I’ve had it 19 years. In that time, most of the guys I work with have had four or five vans – Transits, Mercedes, whatever. They’re not cheap you know!
Our favourite bit?
‘Scott’s 101 is cheaper to run than a van, and easier to work with. But the FC has a final trick up its sleeve – it makes money. Scott will be at someone’s house with the 101, then the neighbours will wander over. They’ll ask what we’re doing, then take a business card. If you’re in a white van, nobody pays any attention – but they do with the 101.’
And the verdict from LRO writer Peter Galilee?
‘The 101 sounds wonderful and drives beautifully. Scott’s 101 is well known in his area and it’s clearly something people remember, where yet another white van would be invisible. A 101 V8 as a builder’s van – who’d have thought it? But as Scott knows, and as we’ve seen, this 101 is better and more ‘economical’ than any white van you can buy.’
Model: 1976 Forward Control 101 GS l Engine: 3.5 Rover V8 with LPG conversion l Transmission: Standard gearbox with overdrive