The history of Land Rover from National Geographic.
The story of Land Rover from its inception as a way to save the Rover company to its becoming the SUV of choice for the landed gentry.
The design for the original Land Rover vehicle was started in 1947 by Maurice Wilks, chief designer at the Rover Company, on his farm in Newborough, Anglesey. It is said that he was inspired by an American World War II Jeep that he used one summer at his holiday home in Wales. The first Land Rover prototype, later nicknamed ‘Centre Steer’, was built on a Jeep chassis and axles.
The early choice of color was dictated by military surplus supplies of aircraft cockpit paint, so early vehicles only came in various shades of light green; all models until recently feature sturdy box section ladder-frame chassis.
If you are a Land Rover fan you owe it to yourself to listen to the CentreSteer podcast. Here is how the makers of the show describe the podcast…
To the best of our knowledge, there is not currently a podcast dedicated to the Land Rover marque.
A group of Land Rover enthusiasts in the United States decided to change that.
Between us we have owned nearly every model Land Rover has to offer, including Series trucks, imported Defenders, Freelanders, Range Rovers and, certainly, Discovery I and IIs.
Guest from three continents – Europe, America and Africa – have joined us to discuss every model, offoarding, repair, adventure, restoration, overlanding and heritage.
Every month a new episode is posted and hope you enjoy listening.
The shows cover news of new Land Rover developments as well as stories of historical beasts. There has also been a good amount of coverage given to the entire overland adventure. Lifestyle? Hobby? Ethos? Whatever it is, a lot of attention is given to overlanding.
They also have a Patreon campaign set up where you can donate a small amount of money per episode to help keep the show going. Additionally, if you donate to the Patreon campaign the fine folks at CentreSteer will send you a sticker. As anybody who followed Just British knows, I love stickers. (Still need a Just British Online Motoring Magazine sticker? Subscribe to the newsletter to find out how to get one.)
Seriously, it just followed me home. All the way from Savannah, Georgia back to Charleston. In actuality, it began its trip in Jacksonville, Florida, but I met the owner half way in Savannah. This served multiple purposes – it cut my trip to get it in half, it proved to me that the seller had enough confidence in the vehicle to travel over a hundred mile in it, and it brought me within spitting range of the 100-mile towing I have with AAA. You know, just in case anything did happen to go wrong.
But nothing did. Not exactly anyway. I knew there was some noise coming from down under, but driving back I became increasingly concerned about the grinding and rattling of chains. Convinced that it was the front driveshaft, I ordered a new one with appropriate serviceable joints and made arrangements to have my friends over a Charleston Import Automotive put it in. Normally I would do a job like that myself, but I wanted them to give the vehicle the once over anyway, and I it was cold and I didn’t relish spending a lot of time on my back on the cold driveway.
Good thing I turned the job over to them. As the Land Rover was rolling off the flatbed at the show, the rear driveshaft became detached from the differential and fell out. Turns out that the bolt holding the rear flange in had sheered off and the shaft itself was only holding on to the flange in question by three loose bolts. Unknown whether someone had been messing with the shaft and done a piss-poor job of putting it back together, or it had been literally tearing itself apart. Either way, it is amazing that the Rover made it all the way up from Florida in one piece. Beyond amazing, it is a miracle.
Beyond that fist miracle, a further miracle was performed by Darryl Beech and his crew when they were able to extract the end of the sheared off bolt, find replacement parts for the missing bolts out of their parts stash, and get it all reassembled for me the same day. There wasn’t even any damage done to the shaft splines or oil seal.
And wow, the rumbling grinding noise is gone. Imagine that. Oh, needless to say, the replacement bolt is a higher grade than the common hardware store bolt that came out. Who does these things?
They also bled the breaks, although things are still a bit squishy that I wish them to be.
I still have a very long laundry list of tasks to do on the Land Rover. From windows and A/C to the stereo and ball-joints, there are a host of systems that need repair. But it is mine. And it is home. And I am driving it almost daily. What is life anyway, other that one big shakedown cruise?
I didn’t just dream up this current Land Rover desire out of nowhere. Nope, back in the mid-80s when I was in college, I bought my first car – an MGB. I loved that car and drove it everywhere … until I drove it into the back of a stopped car as I was coming around a curve on Lockwood Boulevard here in Charleston. I won’t say the folks in the stopped car were doing anything wrong or wanting to get hit, but I will say that at least one of them got out of the car already wearing a neck brace.
That wreck trashed the MG and since I was a poor college student without comprehensive insurance, I would be fixing it or replacing it on my own dime. That is a different story altogether, but it lays the groundwork for me needing something to drive. Luckily I was working at a car parts store, Foreign Car Parts, that was owned by a very kind hearted guy, Donald Brown. Now understand that Don had come to be more than a boss to me. He was a friend, a mentor, and a guide. He and his wife, Stephanie, in a way treated me as the son they never had. Most everything I know about British cars I owe to Don. When I first bought my MG and discovered that I had to learn to take care of it, he is the one who taught me how. When I discovered that I needed to pay for parts, he gave me a part time job. That could have been because I was spending so much time in the shop anyway, but either way, it was a generous thing to do.
And then I wrecked my MG. And Don came to my rescue. He had a Series II Land Rover, 1969 or 70 I think, that he said I could use until I fixed the MG or found something else. All I had to do was get the clutch hydraulics working and get the Land Rover insured and then I could use it. Well turns out that the clutch slave cylinder just needed rebuilding. Of course, that job started with a sheered off bleeder valve, but in the end, it was a fairly easy and straightforward job. A good education too – as were most tasks Don gave me to do. And since the MG was off the road, I just switched the insurance over to the Land Rover. Voila, I was on the road again as Marlin Perkins!
I drove that Land Rover for about a year before I found a replacement, non-crumpled, body for my MGB and got everything swapped over. During that time I enjoyed running over obstacles, driving through ditches, and watching water splash up through the rusted out floor boards. I was also dating the girl who would become my wife, and she enjoyed climbing up on top of the Land Rover for sunbathing sessions while I worked on the MG. That is Nancy to the right in the picture below, sitting on the Land Rover. The woman on the left is Stephanie, Don Brown’s wife. Stephanie is the owner of the yellow Chevy Nova behind her, and if you look carefully in the lower left of the picture you can just see the disassembled nose of the MG.
I learned many lessons while using the Land Rover, but here are just a few:
Aluminum bodywork (actually Birmabright) doesn’t stand up well against the direct puncturing impact from the front bumper brackets of a Rover 3500S hulk that you have failed to secure properly to the trailer you are towing it on.
If you are going to tow a car on a trailer, be sure it is secured from rolling forward as well as backward – especially if you decide to make it easier to roll by swinging by the neighborhood gas station to air up the tires. Said car will then move in ways you hadn’t expected when you hit the brakes suddenly on the tow vehicle.
Your father, dressed in suit and tie for church, doesn’t experience the same joy as you from running through deep salt-water puddles and watching the water plumes come up through the floorboards.
People tend to get out of the way of large lumbering vehicles with big steel bumpers. At least once they finish staring.
If you are going to test your off-road prowess by driving through ditches, you should make sure you have enough gas first. If not, your vehicle will run out of gas in the center of the ditch and become sunk up above the hubs in mud before you can walk to the gas station and return with more fuel.
When you become mired in a ditch and decide to use the bumper mounted winch to extricate yourself, you can use a telephone pole across the street as an anchor point. However, you should make sure that no traffic attempts to come through, and you should also pay close attention to how far up you are anchoring the winch and how much your winching is bending the aforementioned telephone pole.
Windshield defrosters, and heat for that matter, on a Series Land Rover are more of a good idea than an actual functioning piece of equipment. Heck, that applies to all creature comforts on these trucks.
That Land Rover was a good one. Unfortunately, I had to return it when the MG was rebuilt, and it went on to be sold and then find a life in the North Carolina mountains. I hope it is still up there having a good life and teaching other over anxious young folk valuable life skills.
So, as I do when I think about any project, I have been buying books. I have been looking at Land Rover Discovery buyer’s guide type books as well as manuals and general history. Here are a few that I have so far…
In my search for a Land Rover Discovery, I am reading just about everything on the subject that I can get my hands on. This article appeared before me on Facebook today in reference to the Discovery 3, known in the US as the LR3. I have really been constraint my search for purchase to the Discovery II, but I wouldn’t be adverse to an LR3. Plus, the comparison between 2 and 3 might provide useful info. Finally, the Discovery 3 is known to many as the car that saved Land Rover. I am not sure about that, but only because I am one of the uninitiated and uneducated. I will have to read the article to find out.
The article is in Land Rover Monthly magazine and is entitled Land Rover Discovery 3 (2004 – 2009). In the article author Ed Evans provides buying advice as well as a lot of straight talk about pros and cons of this model. Should be a good read.