We are a team of two women who have just completed a fantastic journey in our 1971 Series IIA Land Rover, ‘Landy’. We started out in March this year, driving through Europe, crossing into North Africa and turning left through Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, and then into Israel, Palestine and the Golan Heights, spending around two weeks in each country.
From Lebanon we caught a boat to Turkey and drove back to the UK, bypassing Syria but visiting every other country that borders the Mediterranean Sea.
Our adventure made a dramatic contrast to Landy’s previous life on a farm in Stoodleigh, Devon, which is why we had to get her thoroughly prepared first.
Step one was an MoT, then we got our hands dirty doing a basic service and fitting four new tyres. Finally, we looked at making the changes necessary to make our old 109in into a mobile home-cum-overland-transport.
We built a plywood bed in the back that also served as a partition between dirty tools and clean(er) clothes; it also acted as an anti-theft measure when thieves broke in but were unable to get to the items beneath it.
Our modifications continued with compartments for jerry cans welded to the chassis (to carry additional fuel) plus a bar and grille to secure the back door and window. We also made a lockable compartment in Landy for passports, laptops, etc.
Stocking up on necessary tools and equipment, plus some obvious spares (filters, windscreen wiper blades, two spare tyres, etc) was another priority. So we came to an arrangement with Britcar to send us parts as required.
The low points
Stopping to reattach the accelerator cable in Algeria wasn’t a huge problem in itself, but it gave the local police a great opportunity to surround us and take all our documents away to photocopy. It was a very nervous couple of hours before they brought them back again! The accelerator cable had been reattached long before the bureaucracy was over...
The combination of a dodgy seal in the clutch master cylinder and dirty diesel in our tank made turning around in the road in Alexandria, Egypt, an hour-long process – we stalled at every turn and had to pump the fuel in order to restart. And all this with a crowd of hundreds of enthusiastic onlookers waving and shouting at us and trying to tell us what to do – we brought the whole of Alexandria to a standstill!
Broken bleed screws in Jordan led to broken brake cylinders and broken hydraulic lines because we’d allowed an over-enthusiastic ‘mechanic’ to help... explaining the difference between metric and imperial when trying to source the new parts was practically impossible and a really frustrating experience.
Binding brakes after we’d replaced our faulty master cylinder in Lebanon caused Landy to overheat about six times in one afternoon; we missed our ferry to Turkey because we were making such slow progress. The new master cylinder turned out to be faulty, so a few days later (despite a test drive) the brakes failed suddenly as we were driving down a steep hill in Lebanon with no idea what might be around the sharp bends of the road. We slowed down using the gearbox and eventually came to a stop.
The high points
A broken rear differential (in France on day two) was a low point, but after identifying the problem, removing the rear prop and half shafts and being able to carry on to Morocco without delaying the trip was extremely satisfying, and became a real high point. It silenced a few people back home who didn’t believe we could do it!
Wiring up our radio was another highlight. We’d bought the constituent parts in Tunis and commissioned two local carpenters to build the housing for the speakers. When it all finally went together and music wafted through the air, everybody around us cheered (they’d never seen women working on a car and had all come out to watch).
Other peaks of achievement included coming up with a short-term solution to the problem of a lack of power by digging into the floor around the accelerator pedal so we could press it further, giving us an extra 10kph! Landy passing her MoT on our return from the 11,000-mile trip was the final high.
This owner review appeared in the December 2014 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.