Apart from my wife Tiffany and me, this Series IIA has only had one other owner - Tiffany's grandfather Mike Carmichael, who had an engineering business in Hereford. In his latter days he lived in a really out-of-the-way place - you wouldn't be able to get there in a normal car during really bad winters, so he had a Land Rover for when it snowed. It was just a spare car that he used to go to Ross-on-Wye or Hereford when the weather was iffy.
He was a very thorough sort of person, so he kept a diary with all the mileages, petrol used, repairs done - everything. I've got all the paperwork for the Land Rover, right back to the original sales invoice. From that, we can see that the basic vehicle cost £691 on July 9, 1965, but he'd specified a whole lot of extras - including indicators, a windscreen washer, rubber pads for the pedals, flyscreens for the dash vents and a speedo with a tripmeter - that brought the price up to £779 4s 5d.He traded in a Series I, OCJ 238, and got £155 for that.
He was into cars, though, and he used to go to the Prescott Hillclimb. In his time he'd had an Aston Martin and an Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint, among others. There's a Bugatti badge on the Land Rover's grille, but he never owned a Bugatti hmself - apparently he only joined the Bugatti Club so he could gain access to the paddock at Prescott, which saved some walking!
But you can tell he was interested in cars just by looking at the Land Rover - all those accessories from the '60s. There are two Tapley meters, one for braking and one for performance. There's a clock, which is actually clockwork - you have to wind it up and it lasts for about a week.
There's also a rev counter, a proper Land Rover oil and water gauge, foglights, a pair of extra horns, and a St Christopher medal. There's a radiator blind that you pull from the cab; the blind comes up in front of the radiator when youtug on the chain. Best thing, though, is the Murphy rear-view mirror - there's a transistor radio behind it, and a speaker next to the heater.
When he died, the Land Rover was just left in a garage. I've been into Land Rovers for a while, so I said to my mother-in-law not to sell it to just anyone - I could see ot was a bit special, a lovely thing. Two years later, she said: 'When are you coing to get it?'
We were very nervous at first - it hadn't been run for a longtime so it wasn't at all reliable, and we didn't like to go very far. But as we used it more, it got better. It's had repairs done on its rear crossmember and some new springs, but that was before we got it. All I've done is to change the tyres - Avon Traction Mileage, which I tracked down on eBay. And I've put a secondhand canvas on it - the original was falling apart.
We're trying to keep it just as it was - those are his old driving gloves on the dashboard along with the tyre valves, fuses and other things that were there when we got it. We've even kept the old dog blanket. That's even older than the Land Rover - it was his old school blanket, with his name-tag sewn in.
The SIIA is something special but it's not my only Land Rover. I've got a twin-cab Defender 130 for my business, a 107in Series I pick-up (that's a project, though I'll probably never get around to it) and a Series I 88in hybrid that's been fitted with a Tdi.
The most recent arrival is another Series I, and 86in station wagon. I only advertised for a Series I station wagon roof and door to put on the hybrid, and I was offered this complete vehicle. So I cashed in an ISA - well, you can't not buy something like that, can you? The plan is to put it back to the original pinky-grey colour with blue wheels and chassis - that's what it had originally.
The Land Rovers aren't just for show, though. There are a few of us who meet up occasionally for a pub lunch and then afterwards we'll go for a drive - there are miles of good greenlanes on Salisbury Plain, just near where I live. Or we'll drive up to the lanes on the tops to give the dogs a run, or for picnics.
We're very lucky to have these lanes so close to home; I use them a lot. The SIIA is good for that, but I never push it - I generally say the Land Rover is a family heirloom and we're just the custodians. It's far and away the most original Land Rover I've ever seen.
Originally featured in the September 2014 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
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