What's the story?
Some of Gary Birrell's happiest memories are of working at his grandad's garage in Perthshire. 'I started as a petrol-boy, filling up customers' cars,' he explains. When he left school he began to serve his time as a mechanic. 'I remember the cars that local people had - one was a long-wheelbase V8 Land Rover.' Above all, Gary remembers the garage's own Land Rover - a late Series IIA, signwritten on the doors and on a board above the windscreen.
Gary's dad, Ally, has vivid memories of working at the garage too: 'There was panel-beating, mechanical repairs - everything, plus a driving school with six cars, a taxi business and Bedford vans for school contracts. I was a driver and also worked in the office. The Land Rover was our service vehicle - we'd go all over buying crashed cars and bring them back on an ambulance trailer. The panel-beater would sort them out and they'd be sold.'
The garage changed hands in 1983, but that little Series IIA stayed in Gary's mind: 'I always wanted to restore a Land Rover like my grandad and dad had. I've a few photos of the garage, but none of the old Land Rover. I tried to locate the original, but without success.'
What Gary did have, though, was a clear memory of how the Series IIA looked and a determination to see it again. The fact that it couldn't be found wasn't going to stop him - if he couldn't find the original, he'd just have to re-create it.
'I found a Land Rover, which cost me £850 - the laddie who had it wouldn't take less. But that did include an overdrive.' And rust. A hopeful-looking galvanised rear crossmember was attached to an original chassis that was so bad it had disintegrated in several places. The panelwork was straight though.
New chassis ordered, Gary set about the mechanicals: 'The gearbox just needed seals. I completely overhauled the axles, but I was fortunate with the engine - I just checked the compressions and did the seals.'
Bosywork isn't his thing though. 'I got an Ashtree bulkhead and gave it to someone else to paint.'
The bodywork took time but the chassis was driveable, so Gary strapped a seat on the fuel tank and went for a test run. His next job was replacing the hard top with a truck cab, liberated from a fild-derelict Series II.
The final job was the signwriting. The signboard above the screen and the lettering on the doors transformed the Series IIA.
Our favourite bit?
This Land Rover is all about nostalgia. A lot of people remember it from when Gary's dad and grandad had the garage and the old Land Rover. That long-gone original and Gary's recreation are merging into the same thing. Past is becoming present - one memory, one Land Rover.
And the verdict from LRO writer Peter Galilee?
What's it like? Just as a good late SIIA should be, 'though it's not really finished yet - there are still a few things to sort out,' says Gary, tinkering witht he slightly sloppy steering. 'You soon realise it's not a vehicle for driving fast!'
Chassis number: 24135227F
Engine: Petrol, four-cylinder, overhead-valve Rover 2286cc
Transmission: Four-speed, fully synchromesh (Series III replacement gearbox), two-speed transfer box, selectable two/four-wheel-drive, Fairey overdrive
Configuration: Truck cab, canvas tilt