Back in December 2009, with the Jap’ pick up, Thomas, aging fast and the cost of maintenance and repairs of said vehicle escalating at a rather alarming rate, Muds’ Land Roverless status reached breaking point and he set about persuading me that an old, battered classic Land Rover was the only sensible solution to our vehicular needs. The ease with which he could repair it, the much lower cost of these repairs, minimal historic vehicle insurance costs, not forgetting the taxed exempt status of such a vehicle, were all tools used to persuade me that a Series land Rover project was the way forward and I fell for it!
“Thomas will only last another couple of years,” he said and followed this pronouncement with, “We’ll be lucky if he passes the MOT in a year or so and now that he is getting on a bit (the truck was only 4 years old) we need to start planning for his replacement!”
To be fair, as our only vehicle the Truck was doing 26k miles per year at this point and so had quite a high mileage for a modern day car but even so, it wasn’t exactly at the scrap yard door but Mud continued in his best Victor Meldrew tone that in another couple of years, with another 50k miles on the clock, well, you know, the wear and tear, the cost of repairs ……….. with shaking head and the sucking in of air through the teeth to emphasise the direness of the situation, Victor Meldrew dissolved into a near perfect impersonation of a disreputable garage mechanic, describing the faults of a vehicle to its’ hapless owner.
January 2010 and Ciggy arrived, amid promises and predictions of being roadworthy in a year, two at max, ready to take on the mantle of the doomed Thomas, saving us a fortune in maintenance costs, insurance, road tax and let’s not forget the money saved by Mud because he was going to give up the cigarettes and use the money saved to fund the restoration…….
One thing I have learned in recent years, is that if you give a Land Rover enthusiast an inch, he’ll take the whole darn planet, never mind a mile!
Here we are approaching the end of 2014 and whilst Ciggy is nearing completion, she still isn’t on the road. As for Thomas? Well he’s still going strong, well stronger than anticipated given that back in 2009 he was only given a maximum two years before the scrap yard beckoned, but he is costing us a far from small fortune to keep on the road each year, a fact Mud often contemplates as he mooches about the garden, cigarette in hand.
Meanwhile, on the front drive, tucked up nice and warm under a newly purchased tarpaulin, is Bonnie the recently acquired Series 1, 80″! That is to say, her chassis is on the front as her assorted panels are now littering the lawn and shed, adding dazzling patches of banana yellow or a much kinder pale green to the outlook from the kitchen window. On the other side of the drive we have Annie the Series 3 109″, our only running Land Rover, looking imposing and anything other than old and tired, sitting as she does on large tyres and dwarfing most other vehicles.
Out in the back garden, fastened to the fence and hedge to keep it in situ, Annies’ hard top roof still plugs the gap in the hedge with Ciggys’ hard top roof securely stored inside it and both now offer a safe haven for one of the hedgehogs that frequents our garden. Over in the storage shed a mix of body panels from every era of the Series Land Rover, are awaiting restoration and fitting to … something, although I’m not entirely sure what as both Annie and Ciggy are pretty much kitted out in terms of panels and even Bonnie is only missing one or two pieces. I have suggested we sell these spares on but, well, apparently, you never know when you might need a spare bonnet or three (right), another truck cab (really), wings ……. and don’t even get me started on the tyres!
Unable to escape from the evidence of Land Rovers in my garden, I head inside for a coffee ……
…… and find myself carefully having to negotiate the obstacle course of parts currently stored in there. Bonnies’ bonnet now proudly wearing the colours of the North Yorkshire flag, is resting against the main wall. The centre piece white rose which Mud has skillfully painted onto the pie dish wheel mount, is curing on the pool table, as is Bonnies’ windscreen frame. Beneath the pool table the four perspex panes of glass, bought from Ebay a week or two ago and which are for Bonnies door tops, have, I notice, been joined by another pair of panes which came with one of the door tops he bought around the same sort of time and started refurbishing yesterday.
To give him his due, even Mud has been muttering about having to move the parts out of the kitchen and the plan was to strip and paint Bonnies’ panels and then store them back on the chassis over winter. He had thought that the strip and paint would take just a few days but, as is always the case with old Land Rovers and I really think that after nearly 30 years experience owning these old cars he really should know this by now, the job didn’t go to plan, mainly due to the unbelievably tough yellow paint with which Bonnie was covered and which has seen off bucket loads of paint stripper and cost Mud hours of sanding down.
“There’s no room to move,” he complained walking into the kitchen the other day. Can’t say I had noticed in my daily attempts to get hot pans from the BBQ outside, back into the kitchen, with out burning myself, spilling stuff etc.
Yesterday, I caught my hip on a sticky out part of the newly painted windscreen frame and let out a pained ‘Ouch’ to which my caring other half said, “Watch it! You’ll scratch my paintwork! I told you this would happen. You need to be more careful!”
In the short term, the panels are to be stored back in the shed but as there isn’t any room, we need to empty the shed out, throw out anything we don’t need (bet we still keep the aforementioned spare panels) and then put everything else neatly back in.
Maybe we should start that process today. But wait! We can’t! Mud’s not here. No, he is currently on his way to collect an entire Series 1 truck cab and a pair of seats from another enthusiast …. though where we’re going to store them is anyones guess.