In the early 1970s, my wife and I spent two years in Botswana working at a secondary school as American Volunteers. We lived on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and friends of ours had Land Rovers in which we did trips into the desert to look for game at weekend; our first exposure to Land Rovers.
We also had time to do longer trips, so on occasion we would take the train north to Rhodesia and then up to the Victoria Falls area where the Rhodesian Army was patrolling the border, along the Zambezi River. We saw many Land Rovers in use as part of these patrols; they made an indelible impression on me, and my interest in older Land Rovers was firmly planted.
In the late Eighties we spent two years working in rural Nepal where a good four-wheel drive was essential for getting about on remote routes; so more exposure to rugged road conditions and four-wheel driving reinforced the appeal of a simple 4x4.
In about 2010, I decided that I needed a project and that a Series Land Rover would be just the ticket. My early career training and experience was in automobile mechanics, but more recent jobs have taken me out of that area. With so many intervening years between that mechanical training and the present, I wanted a basic, rugged vehicle that was reasonably easy to work on.
I shopped around, mainly online; and after several months I found a vehicle that I liked in Pennsylvania. The owner had worked in England for a number of years and had bought the Land Rover for use while living there and then shipped it back to the States. At some point the decision was made to sell it and it came my way via an auto carrier.
The Land Rover was in generally good shape and just needed a few repairs - left front wheel bearings and stub axle were totally 'gone' and needed replacement. I couldn't easily find a good used stub axle in the US, so one was supplied out of the UK. I also replaced all the hub and axle seals, rebuilt all the brake cylinders and drained all of the fluids and refilled with fresh lubes. The chassis was in generally good shape with limited rust, so this was basically a clean-up and paint job.
When it first arrived, the Land Rover was six shades of green, so after the mechanical repairs had been done, we began prepping for painting.
We converted our car port into a paint booth and did most of the work in the driveway and car port. I have a good friend who previously had his own custom car shop and he took far more effort that I ever would have on prepping for paint - but in the end, his efforts paid off and it looks great.
The paint scheme is semi-flat military olive drab with Rhodeisan Army insignias. I'm a historian, and inspired by my experience of seeing the Land Rovers in action in Rhodesia, I took mine in that direction.
I wanted to add the landmine protection and roll-over bars as the Rhodesians did, but my wife Mimi has put her foot down on that detail. The interior is decorated along military lines complete with jerry cans, ammo boxes, and an Enfield-type rifle (Ishapore 2A1 - 7.62).
This Land Rover is mainly driven around our small town and around the county on the weekends. We take it to local car shows and it gives folks something to look at rather than all those shiny hot rods and classics. In most cases, we're the only armed vehicle in the show - and visitors ask more questions about the rifle than they do about the Land Rover.
This owner review appeared in the November 2015 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.