I fell in love with Land Rovers because of a girl. She was blonde and had curves in all the right places. She spoke with an exotic Brazilian American accent and took me partying in Johannesburg one night in her mum’s 1989 110 V8. She drove that beast like a criminal, one hand on the wheel, the other applying make-up. The night ended on a farm road somewhere on the West Rand. It was a good night.
I never fell in love with the girl but I loved that 110. So in 2009
I bought my own for a six-month trip around southern Africa.
I chose the 130 after searching the market for a vehicle that could carry all a family’s gear and go anywhere. This beauty, which was being sold by a dealer in Bloemfontein, was the winner by a country mile: it had worked as a farm vehicle most of its life.
I neglected my work, the grass grew too long… all I could think about was where the Land Rover would take my young family and how I would adapt it for extended overland touring.
Over three months I installed an aluminium canopy, a dual-drawer system for two fridges and six Wolf ammo boxes, a 70-litre water tank, a dual battery system, LED lighting in the load areas, a 9000lb Ramsey winch, a Howling Moon roof tent, jerry cans for fuel and water, two LPG cans at the rear, Melvill and Moon seat covers, cargo netting and a safe. My wisest decision was to install a Little Black Box (LBB) engine management system. Well, that and a beer opener.
I wanted the 130’s set-up to be as simple as possible; a kind of rolling Leatherman, light and flexible, that I could bush-repair with the simplest tools.
In 2010 we packed in our lives, took the little ones out of school and shipped the 130 to Uruguay. We called ourselves the A2A Expedition, Argentina to Alaska, and covered South America, driving through every country.
We drove through the Amazon jungle and as far south as possible to Ushuaia; we camped in Rio de Janeiro; we drove at 15,500ft in the Andes; we swam in the Venezuelan Caribbean. We had the time of our lives. We didn’t have the budget for hotels so we camped almost every day. Besides, a roof tent is the best place to lay your head.
We stopped in Ecuador for two months to write a Land-Rover-centric book called ‘We Will Be Free’ and then drove all the way up through the US and Canada, finally arriving in Alaska almost exactly three years after we had landed in Uruguay. On the whole, the 130 performed impeccably throughout the 68,000-mile journey, but we did have several tyre and wheel bearing failures.
I blame the wife, she blames me – so we’ll call it quits.
If you’re interested in the full adventure, you can buy our book through a2aexpedition.com. If we can sell enough copies we plan to drive all the way across the planet, but we may need to get another Land Rover if the kids intend continuing to travel with us into adulthood.
Life is tough, but life is good.
This owner review appeared in the Spring 2016 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.