Every couple of months, a copy of Legend – the magazine of the Land-Rover Series One Club, lands on my desk and I drop what I’m doing and begin the ever-joyful task of flicking through the colourful mag.
Since I got shot of my Series IIa back at the tail end of last year, it’s fair to say that I’ve missed the back-to-basics go anywhere nature of the Landie. Okay, so it was only on rare occasions that it did actually get tested, but it was kind of reassuring to know that this automotive knight in shining armour was waiting just outside of the front door should the world turn bad. New owner, C&SC publisher, Tim Bulley isn’t making things easy either with his Monday-morning tales of how ‘heroic’ SVR 35H has been over the weekend!
Even though the lack of use and cost of fuel were the two things that persuaded me to sell the IIa, those reasons are already fading into the annals of time and I find myself frequently poring over the classifieds and drooling enviously over the images in Legend. Not for a Series II though: the next time a classic Landie appears on my drive, it will be a Series I, arguably the definitive Land-Rover.
Oddly, I had previously dismissed the Series I as looking a bit awkward compared to the II and IIa.
Whether fitted with full tilt or hard top, what went on top of the basic tub didn’t seem to really sit happily compared to later models, but forget the wet weather gear and it’s a different picture.
With the lower door height once the side windows are removed, and the 'screen folded flat, the Series I becomes a thing of absolute beauty. Well, in my eyes anyway.
I will admit that perhaps the reason I like the stripped down Series I so much is that secretly I would prefer to go and buy an early Willys Jeep in which to act out my Boy’s Own adventures, or a period-correct Willys M38 to be precise for the full M*A*S*H effect: years of watching Hawkeye, Trapper John and Radar O’Reilly careening around in the Korean dust had a significant effect. This wasn’t exactly helped when I had a brief play in a mate’s M151 MUTT – not exactly a Willys but it kind of did the trick!
I have always been guilty of an ‘earlier is best’ outlook when it comes to classics and, try as I might, I just can’t shift that. Looks like once again that is coming into play as I ponder selling all that is practical to buy something that offers little in the way of heat, comfort and performance, but character and ruggedness in buckletloads. Maybe one day I will learn.