What's the Story?
Are you sure?’ Keith Bellwood cried out to Martin Bentley from the inside of the stripped-out Discovery 1. ‘You really want me to do this?’ Martin looked at Keith and nodded his head, while his wife peered in nervously through the window from outside the garage.
Being shorter than Martin, it was down to Keith to scramble inside the hollowed-out Discovery shell. Wielding the angle grinder, Keith began to cut the bodyshell in half. As sparks flew, Martin knew there was no going back; and what started as a ‘I wonder if’ thought in his head was finally on its way to being realised.
To anyone else, Martin’s idea would seem crazy: take a perfectly good Discovery 1 that’s in much better condition than many others on the road, and chop the back off. It would easily have passed an MoT and had years of life left in it.
To Keith and his wife, however, this was completely normal. They’d endured Martin’s mad ideas for years, but this one was a little bit different. As well as being a keen Land Rover enthusiast, Martin has a passion for convertible cars.
Our Favourite Bit
As we approached our test site, the noise in the cab was nothing more than a 300Tdi engine and a bit of road din – it’s no louder than LRO’s own project Discovery, which says a lot for a soft top.
The roof fits a treat. It doesn’t flap about at speed and it doesn’t leak, as I also found out when it rained later that day. It came off easily in the morning: in less than two minutes, we’d loosened all the fastenings, undone the Velcro strips and had the roof in its bag and stored away in the storage box behind the cab. It’s just as speedy to put back on.
The way that Martin has designed the roll frame and roof bars means that there’s ample room to fit the roof; and when it’s place it does a great job of keeping out the water.
Having first thought he’d make the roof himself, Martin soon decided it was a job too far and called in the services of a professional. Before this, he had even contemplated buying an industrial sewing machine so that he and his wife could fabricate something themselves.
And the Verdict from LRO?
Whether it’s towing the caravan, enjoying the sun on the daily commute or taking in some greenlanes with Nottingham Land Rover Club, you name it – Martin’s Discovery can do it.
Now he’s ready for his next project. His mate, Keith, lives in a state of readiness for when, or what it might be – the angle grinder is kept primed and ready for action. Even his wife is keeping a tight grasp on the keys of her Discovery 2. After all, who knows what’s being planned in Martin’s head…?
This feature appeared in the July 2011 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.