I SEARCHED far and wide for the ďrightĒ Land Rover. I wanted a latemodel Series IIA with the headlights on the fenders rather than in the grille, preferably green, rust-free, with the original running gear and in sound mechanical condition. In other words, something like the first Landy I ever owned, but not as rough.
I looked all over the country before finding this nice restored example about five minutesí drive from my front door. It ticked all the boxes, but the vendor was asking a bit more than I was willing to spend. After a couple of days of negotiations, we agreed on a price and the SIIA was mine.
Iíve been told the old Landy once belonged to a Mayor of the Eurobodalla Shire on the NSW South Coast.
The fellow I purchased it from had completely stripped it and rebuilt the thing. And yes, while itís hardly in showroom condition, it scrubs up alright and has so far proven mechanically reliable (knock on wood).
The Landy runs the original 2.25L four-cylinder petrol engine, which is standard other than a Stromberg (Holden) carburettor and extractors Ė the former rubbing on the underside of the bonnet and the latter providing a tasty exhaust note under full throttle.
The four-speed gearbox offers a positive shift and the clutch provides progressive engagement. Of course, thereís no synchro in first or second gears, so shifting requires a combination of patience, revs and timing in the lower ratios, but shifting into third and fourth gears is smooth and easy.
The leaf springs have been refurbished; although, theyíre not set quite right, so the Landy leans to the right somewhat. When I get a chance, Iíll take them out and have them reset.
The repainted steel rims wear 235/85R16 BFGoodrich All-Terrain KO2s. This is the same rubber I run on my 1994 Defender, which will certainly come in handy if I ever need an extra spare for a big trip.
If you donít look too closely the Landy appears pretty tidy. It has new lights, the seats have been recovered in black vinyl and the whole vehicle has had a respray, inside and out. The nearside front guard is off a Series III Landy, hence the vent in the side, but other than that itís quite original.
One of the first things I did when I got the Landy home was remove the roof, so itís a fair-weather vehicle until I track down a stick set and buy a canvas roof.
Other than drive it, all Iíve done to date is source a couple of clamps and bolts to put the spare tyre on the bonnet, but Iíve reverted to tying it down in the tub for the time being.
I need to run the Landy at least once a week or it gets a little hard to start, so it currently does the school run on Friday afternoons as well as regular weekend runs to the beach.
The long-term plan? Iím keen to drive the little Landy across the Simpson Desert one day, while wearing a big bloody hat with the roof down, but I reckon I might have to ship it to Alice Springs and start the trip from there, because itíd be a long (and expensive) trip under its own steam. Hey, it never hurts to dream, right?