You don’t have to know the details of each and every Land Rover that’s ever been made to be totally fascinated by them. For that matter, you don’t even need to own one – though I do buy LRO whenever I get a chance.
My fascination with Land Rover stems from a childhood in Africa, where my parents worked for a Danish foreign aid organisation in the late ’60s. I distinctly remember arriving in Zambia in 1968, getting out of the plane and being overwhelmed by the hot, humid air, the red earth and the lush vegetation. I took all this in from the back of a Land Rover – I think it must have been a Series IIA – while driving from the airport to our new home.
Seeing the Land Rover for the first time was amazing – I had never seen anything like it before. It had a green truck cab and the back was covered with canvas. We were four children, aged eight and under. My younger brother and I were assigned to the space in the back under the canvas and our two younger sisters were in the cab with our parents. We spent many hours driving around Zambia and Malawi in the back of that Land Rover.
We always arrived shaken up and dirty after a long day’s drive on bumpy, dusty, gravel roads. But that was all part of the excitement. We were always asked to get out when the going got too rough, and we watched from a safe distance while dad tackled river banks, or whatever. For a short period we also had a Series IIB Forward Control, for hauling building materials to building sites in the bush.
We often slept in the back if there weren’t enough beds available for all of us. This was the case in the game reserve, where most of us slept in the back of the Forward Control because the hut could only accommodate two people. This was a time when camps were unfenced, which meant we would often see wild animals wandering around the camp after dusk.
We later moved to Kenya, where another Land Rover awaited us, this time a grey one. The only difference was that the headlights had moved from the grille to the wings. It was still a canvas version, and my brother and I kept our beloved place in the back. What wonderful memories, which have been kept alive thanks to my parents always having a camera ready.