A three-day trip to France with my friend David Churchill to collect an abandoned 1993 Defender 90, make it roadworthy and drive it 560 miles home to Wiltshire turned out to be quite an adventure.
The Defender had been in a barn for eight years; it started, but the rear exhaust had to be replaced and there were no headlamps. We fitted new lights, but when I turned the ignition on again nothing happened!
I eventually found what looked like an aftermarket immobiliser within the dashboard, with 10 connections. After 90 minutes, in dwindling daylight, I had cut it out and reconnected all the cables. The key was turned and bingo! – the ignition lights were back and the engine sprang into life – to our great relief.
Next morning we set off, with no indicators, but plenty of (polite) hand signals. We reached the Channel Tunnel with few glitches, but as we joined the queue, the ignition lights came on. An onlooker said: ‘You’ve something dangling.’ It was the alternator belt. We had spares from the seller – but they were the wrong belts. I fitted one of them across just the bottom pulley and alternator. Success! No cooling fan or water pump, but we managed.
Back in Britain, the clutch suddenly sank to the floor. Maybe that’s why we had a spare slave cylinder in our bunch of spares? Happily I’d driven cars without a clutch before, and it was motorway all the way home. So we made it!