- Post is under moderationCAR #VW-Beetle / #VW / #Volkswagen-Beetle / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Beetle-MkI
RUN BY Martin Port
OWNED SINCE March 2011
PREVIOUS REPORT May 2017
Some cars just don’t get the love they deserve, and I’m embarrassed to admit that the Beetle is definitely one of them. It has given reliable service for years now and, despite my many promises to carry out major work, I’ve failed to deliver. Even worse, it took the failure of the MoT test to propel me into action, and even then it was at the pace of an anaesthetised sloth.
What did it fail on? Surprisingly, it was really ‘only’ some rust (and a broken anti-roll-bar clamp). I’d seen much worse, but its proximity to the rear suspension mounts meant that it was an immediate ‘x’ in the box. So, the Beetle was back in the garage while I examined the options for repair. Since this coincided with winter’s first dusting of grit on the roads, I deliberately didn’t hurry – though it’s too late to take evasive action, of course.
Eventually, once I’d cut out the rot, my brother-in-law Pat crafted some repair sections and we set to work. Between us we welded in the fix, which was a tricky under-seat corner piece, but while I was inspecting inside the wheelarch I noticed some more rust.
I cleaned up and welded in a couple more off-cuts of steel from Pat’s workshop, and applied seam-sealer to the inner repair. That meant I now had to underseal the inner arch, which I knew desperately needed doing to the entire underside. Fortunately, it’s still in remarkably solid condition.
I’ve used Dinitrol before and found it to be very effective, so opted for the same again this time. Without a compressor rigged up at home currently, I plumped for several 500ml cans of its 4941 aerosol because I knew it would be fairly simple to apply where needed. Getting the Beetle up in the air was easy thanks to my old set of ramps and large axle stands, offering just enough clearance for a good wire-brushing of the underside.
Then it was time to put the Dinitrol to good use and slowly apply it to the underneath of the vehicle and into the wheelarches. An hour later I was very pleased with how the floorpans looked. Compared to using a schutz gun in a confined space, the aerosol allows you to get into all the smaller areas with ease – perfect if you don’t have access to a four-post lift.
With the welding done I sent my spare set of period wheel rims to Berkshire-based company Procoat to be blasted, primed and powdercoated.
A five-minute chat with the owner turned into an hour as his enthusiasm for classics became obvious, having been given the name Aston Martin by a father with a clear sense of humour. It’s little wonder that not only does he now run a company that specialises in blasting and coating car parts, but he also owns several Astons.
Having heard him wax lyrical about what makes a good process and the importance of how many microns of coating you need on a rim, it was nice to see the fruits of his expertise when I collected the finished wheels. The gloss black is fantastic, and the finish almost mirror-like – the colour isn’t standard, but our choice for the Beetle.
We had agreed to help Vintage Tyres out by evaluating some whitewall rubber, so these were fitted, and suddenly the combination of new tyres and shiny rims put the rest of the car to shame.
It might be back on the road, but it looks as if the bodywork and a respray have to be the next steps.
Procoat: 01635 200017; www.professionalcoatings.co.uk
Whitewalls always provoke a ‘Marmite’ response, but even if they stay on just for the summer, they certainly look the part when coupled with the freshly painted rims.
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- Post is under moderationHEADING SARTHE FOR THE SUMMER
The Le Mans Classic is a favourite on the DRIVE-MY calendar, and that is mainly down to the road-trip aspect of the journey there. The Reader Run has become a team-bonding exercise in getting our old nails to La Sarthe and back, hopefully without having to throw in the towel and hitch a ride on a recovery truck. The process of preparing our respective classics always begins nice and early – literally days before the off – and in typical fashion it included Port carrying out an emergency water-pump overhaul, MacLeman install a cooling fan, reinstating the overdrive wiring and fixing the wiper motor, while Clements checked the oil and set his engine tinware to ‘summer’.
Making it to the docks at Portsmouth is always the first success and, with the UK still basking in a heatwave, it was a relief to get on board the Brittany Ferries boat for St Malo – particularly for Port, who had a last-minute reprieve from a £140 surcharge because his #Land-Rover-SII was deemed too tall. After entrecôte avec frites all round and a few cooling beers, we were suitably refreshed for the overnight sailing – a chance for our extended group to get to know each other.
The DRIVE-MY crew – Clements, Port and MacLeman – was joined by BMW Z4-driving former #DRIVE-MY designer Paul Breckenridge and Le Mans virgin Sam Read (both on hand to help Clements celebrate a significant birthday), while MacLeman’s travelling buddy was fellow professional beard-grower and millennial Paul Bond. After years of pestering, Port gave in and brought eldest son Alfie – the end of GCSE exams finally giving no reason to refuse. After a fitful sleep and the usual rude awakening by tortuous lute music, our quartet rolled off the ferry early on Friday morning. For a while it was business as usual, following a familiar route from previous excursions including a stop for breakfast at Combourg. But here we met up with fellow DRIVE-MY cohorts Mick Walsh and Julian Balme, who had burbled down enthusiastically in Balme’s Lincoln Cosmopolitan, ‘Wooly Bully’, adding to an already eclectic mix of classics parked up in the surrounding roads. This included Reader Run regular Scott Fisher’s stunning #Porsche-912 – previous winner of the DRIVE-MY car park concours at the Hotel de France. Echoing 2010, Port set the 55mph pace up front in his #1959-Landie while the #Suzuki-Cervo , #Triumph-2500 and #BMW-Z4 shadowed his every move – owners doing well at concealing their frustrations at his cruising speed.
As temperatures soared we ploughed on, avoiding autoroutes, and were rewarded with some fantastic countryside – freshly harvested fields and abandoned stone farmhouses beckoning a new life away from the constant onslaught of Brexit negotiations and a government in turmoil. Hitting the roads around Le Mans meant two priorities: a visit to the supermarché to stock up on food and drink, then heading to pitch tents at the Porsche Curves. Naturally, our shopping was made up of the three Le Mans staples: meat, snacks and booze – the latter mainly consisting of French lager, but also the finest vin rouge that three Euros could buy. (We’d tried the one-Euro alternative two years earlier, and decided to push the boat out on medical advice, and also because it was Clements’ birthday.) Rolling into the Travel Destinations campsite reminded us just what a great location it is – despite being a road-train ride away from the paddock. As the GT40s roared past the banking within stumbling distance, tents were pitched and thoughts turned to chilling beers and burning meat. Crucially, we had all made it without significant mechanical issues – albeit with Balme reporting brake troubles – just a little hot and bothered thanks to the Europe-wide heat-wave.
There then ensued three days of the usual mix of breathtaking cars, spectacular on-track action and paddocks to die for – a combination that never fails to result in a magical atmosphere. With temperatures hitting 35º-plus during the day, it was important to maintain fluid intake – but fortunately the local cider proved very useful in ensuring that stamina was maintained, as well as a finely honed sense of humour at all times…
The ‘good old days’ of sitting on a busy banking at Maison Blanche are now a distant memory, but the Porsche Curves campsite offers a relatively quiet experience (at least in terms of numbers).With most of us now being past 40 (Clements only just, a milestone marked by late-night cake), the short roll down the hill to the toilets and showers is pleasingly convenient and doesn’t interrupt viewing of the right- and left-handers for long. The relative peace also provided the perfect opportunity to raise a glass to absent friends. Although he was never keen on camping, the Le Mans Classic was one of our late chief sub editor David Evans’ favourite events, so in his honour we each drained a dram and saved him a space on the banking, before some made the pilgrimage to his favourite spot at Arnage corner the following morning.
Wooly Bully left on Sunday and, with heavy hearts (plus a few heavy heads), the rest of the team packed up to head home on Monday. But not before Port had dived under MacLeman’s Triumph in a bid to reduce the vibration of exhaust on propshaft and gearbox crossmember – Greg using a convenient grass bank as a makeshift ramp.
The convoy headed north without any other problems. Driving into Le Buisson, however, Clements suddenly stopped up front – almost giving the Triumph behind a new Suzuki-shaped bonnet ornament. We’d all seen it: an open yard packed full of French classics in varying stages of decay. Seconds later we were rummaging through the Négoce Matériel collection at the invitation of owner André Papillon, who was working under a Renault 8 – swaying gently on the outstretched arms of a forklift. The noticeboard in his office revealed that he knew what he was doing, however, with an impressive display of past rebuilds.
Back on the road, we headed cross-country and opted to pause for lunch in Bagnoles-de-l’Orne. Steak tartare, galettes and omelettes filled the table, but we soon found ourselves tight on time if we were to complete our supposedly relaxed trek back to Ouistreham.
“I’ll lead,” announced Port, who then promptly ground to a halt. The cause was clear straight away – muck in the idle circuit of the carburettor – but cleaning the jet and aperture didn’t improve matters. There was little else for it but to raise the idle to prevent stalling and carry on, with as much speed as he could muster. Although the Landie was running fairly unpleasantly, the quartet pulled into the port with minutes to spare – the Series II then doing a decent job of fumigating fellow passengers as it waited in line.
Murphy’s law meant that the rush was followed by a delay, thanks to a computer failure – a blessing in disguise because, after 45 minutes of queuing and a hand over the carb to create a vacuum, the blockage in the Land-Rover cleared itself and the Series II rumbled onto the ferry with no more than a bit of smoke from the rich running.
Yet more steak and chips were consumed with a sigh of relief that we’d made it, tinged with sadness that it was all over for another two years, and a few hours later we were welcomed into Portsmouth by a stunning sunset and the sight of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier.
Pulling into our respective driveways at around midnight, we each reflected by text on the mileage covered (just over 400) and fuel consumption. ‘I’ve used about £48-worth,’ boasted Clements, before expressing his disbelief at the Land-Rover’s £147 bill.
Yet the Le Mans Classic is worth all of that and much more. It’s an event where friendships are cultivated, belly-laughs are enjoyed and memories made, all in the company of some of the world’s finest classic cars. (And ours.) Martin Port
THANKS TO Travel Destinations: 08448 730203; traveldestinations.co.uk
‘Steak and chips were consumed with a sigh of relief, tinged with sadness that it was over for another two years’
A gathering of old scrap… poses alongside André Papillon’s collection of classics waiting to be rebuilt or raided for parts.
Clockwise from top left: first goal achieved, having arrived at Portsmouth ferry terminal; breakfast stop at Combourg; magical sunset bathes La Sarthe; happy campers toast their arrival at superb Travel Destinations campsite with welcome cold beers.
Clockwise, from above: selection of Djets fronts amazing Matra display on Bugatti Circuit; Balme’s ‘Wooly Bully’ pauses while passengers enjoy a break on eventful run to Le Mans; Whizz at speed (well, at 55mph); Peugeot 504 and period caravan equipe.
‘Port set the 55mph pace while Suzuki, Triumph and #BMW shadowed, owners trying to conceal their frustrations’
Clockwise, from right: Port tries to solve Triumph’s ‘prop on exhaust’ issues; troubles of his own with SII; Renault-8 – no health-and- safety concerns here; team #DRIVE-MY seeks new fleet additions; patinated Impala, just one gem to be found outside the paddock. From far left: Citroën IDs and #Citroen-DS s have seen better days, but still provide parts; Sam Read prepares to pilot the Suzuki for the final leg home; stunning sunset over Portsmouth.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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- Post is under moderationCAR: #Mercedes-Benz-200 / #Mercedes-Benz-200-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz-W123 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes / #1981-Mercedes-Benz-200-W123 / #1981 / #Mercedes-Benz-M102
Year of manufacture 1981
Recorded mileage 108,432km
Asking price £10,500 Vendor W123 World, Cwmbwrla,
Swansea: tel; 07714 089936; 01792 846888
WHEN IT WAS NEW
Price £8700 1981 UK
Max power 109bhp
Max torque 121lb ft
0-60mph 14 secs
Top speed 100mph
The first owner of this left-hand-drive, German-supplied W123 was a senior manager at Mercedes in Stuttgart who wanted a car with as few electrical accessories as possible so that he could look after it himself in his retirement. Hence his choice of a manual 200 with carburettor engine, plus manual windows and sunroof, and no central locking. The only luxury he allowed himself was a good-quality Becker radio. It has a catalyser on the exhaust (for German cities) and still comes with its winter tyres.
Specialist W123 World has recently recommissioned the car, replacing all of the brake calipers and hoses, radiator, battery and exhaust, and overhauled the carburettor. The previous owner was in Ireland and it has Irish plates, although it is still registered in Germany. There is no evidence of the structure ever having had paint or panelwork, and it has clearly led a quiet life. The bumpers and rubbing strips are in fine condition; the door shuts are crisp, plus the glass and light lenses are scratch-free all round.
Pop the hefty bonnet and there are no problems with the hinges that W123s can suffer: it self props on its first catch and can go vertical for servicing. The bay is beautifully detailed, with all of the correct factory stickers. The engine is dry and leak-free, with oil and water to the correct levels. You can still see splashes of Waxoyl inside the wings.
Inside, the blue seats with cloth inserts are unmarked and the driver’s seat base feels firm (they can sag). There’s no centre armrest, but there are factory overmats. Plus, the tool and first-aid kits are unopened.
It looks smart on its steel wheels with body-coloured hubcaps and, while the quad circular lamps suggest an early car, it runs the later crossflow M102 ‘four’, so it feels surprisingly eager with the manual gearbox.
It would be a miserable thing without power steering, but luckily the 200 has it and is a pleasant, undemanding drive with a stable tickover hot or cold and the usual full-deflection oil pressure under way. The steering is bereft of the straight-ahead play that can mar these cars, and the way the powerful brakes pull up straight reflects the work they’ve had.
EXTERIOR Great factory body and paint
INTERIOR Original and unmarked
MECHANICALS Fully refurbished where necessary: just needs using
For Must be one of the best unrestored W123s around
Against Unexciting but easy-to-live-with specification
SHOULD I BUY IT?
This 200 is as straight and finely preserved as you could reasonably expect a near-40-year-old car to beStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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- Post is under moderationCAR: #Land-Rover-Series-II / #Land-Rover
Run by Martin Port
Owned since Sept 2016
Total mileage 28,031
Miles since February
Latest costs nil
SNOW BUSINESS LIKE SHOWBIZ
Forget dreaming of a white Christmas – a white anytime through November to March will do me, although I will admit that it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue with the same ease as Crosby’s seasonal hit. The point is, though: I own a Land- Rover, live in the UK and therefore am well-versed in the annual disappointment when it comes to having a bona fide reason to select four-wheel drive or low range.
Predictably, it happened yet again just before Santa donned his wellies and broke into the houses of millions, but this time there was actually a decent amount of snow… just not where I live. In fact, if I’d travelled three miles in any direction, I could have gone and made a snowman but I just sulked and avoided social media featuring the endless pictures of Solihull’s finest having limitless fun. Instead, I turned back to when my Series II arrived in London to a harsh winter in February ’1963. One photo shows two chilly-looking chaps standing by the Land-Rover near the junction of Kempsford Gardens and Warwick Road, around the corner from Earls Court – various other vehicles of the period are languishing on the snow-covered streets.
And then it happened. I pulled back the curtains one morning at the start of January to find a snowy blanket – well, a slightly slushy white sheet at least, and one that was already threatening to disappear.
There was nothing else for it: grab the keys to the Series II and find an excuse to go for a drive, and it was a good job that I did – 40 minutes later the temperatures rose, the rain fell and the snow had turned to localised flooding instead. Fortunately, all is not lost: an item on the news announced that, because of the sun’s cycles, there is a chance that we will experience a mini ice-age. Admittedly, it could be within the next three decades, but I reckon that’s enough time to prepare and by then I’ll be about 75 years old so will have plenty of spare time to enjoy it!
On the flipside of the weather coin, it was a beautiful day that greeted the Land-Rover when I took a trip to Wiltshire to collect a complete run of Classic & Sports Car from a reader who was downsizing his collection. He had a lovely Jaguar XK120 project nearing completion – its Suede Green paintwork looked stunning in the winter sun. With the Series II full to the brim of magazines in the rear tub, there were a few ‘interesting’ moments on the return journey – thanks to the lightened front end – but, as I drove past Littlecote House near Hungerford on the way back, I took advantage of the nice weather to revisit the past.
As regular readers will know, the Series II’s first owner, Philip Kohler, worked in the film industry as a location manager around the world. One effort that was closer to home was The Four Feathers – a 1977 drama featuring Beau Bridges, Jane Seymour and Robert Powell. As well as Hampshire and Almería in Spain, one of the main settings was Littlecote House and left in the back of the Land-Rover was a board informing the public that it would be closed due to the filming. The Series II was still in regular use by Philip well into the 1970s, so it’s extremely likely that this wasn’t the first time it had been to Littlecote House. As I drove away, one older employee on the estate looked on with a big smile and announced in a Wiltshire drawl: “That’s proper motorin’ that is!”
One of the best things about owning the Landie is undoubtedly the same as with most other classics – the reaction that it gets – and a difficult return to work after the Christmas break was brightened up when an envelope arrived on my desk during the first day back.
One kind reader by the name of Phillip Smart had decided that I should have his period ‘MW’ Malawi AA decal – just in case I ever decided to add that to the list of locations visited by the Series II. It was a generous thought and – who knows? – maybe one day I will legitimately be sticking it to the back of the Land-Rover above the NR and EAK plates. Thanks, Phillip.
The snow eventually arrived in West Berkshire, but not as much as when Philip Kohler returned to the UK in 1963 (left).
Littlecote House near Hungerford was used as the location for the filming of The Four Feathers in 1977.
Filming board was found in the Series II MW plate to go with earlier EAK and NR
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- Post is under moderationCAR #Land-Rover-Series-IIA / #Land-Rover-Series-II / #Land-Rover
Run by Martin Port
Owned since May 2013
Total mileage 46,305
Miles since April
Latest costs £5
CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE
I’ve now been driving my Landie around with its Fairey overdrive installed for a few months. And, although I am considering having my hearing checked just to be sure that the increase in noise levels isn’t doing any lasting damage, I am still happy with my new addition.
Has it quietened down as the gears get to know each other? Not really, but the occasional wintry snaps have brought about a bonus. The colder, thicker oil in the overdrive and transfer boxes does at least reduce the whine for a while at the start of each commute.
The more relaxed cruising is extremely welcome on the motorway, and knocking it out into direct top makes you wince because it feels as if you are pushing the drivetrain even more than it used to. It certainly seems as if it will need a rebuild at some point – just as an attempt to reduce the noise to an acceptable level should I have passengers or family in the car – but that will be a job for another day.
In the meantime, I was treated to a diversion when the ignition light began glowing one morning. It only started when I had the lights, heater and wipers on, but I decided to kick off investigations by putting a meter across the battery. All looked okay there and, to be honest, so did the readings from the alternator, but I chucked on my brand new spare to at least eradicate that as a possible cause.
There was no noticeable change and I recalled that I’d recently had a couple of issues with the headlamp switch. Turning on the lights would sometimes result in the ignition cutting out – a gentle wiggle resuming normal service – but it was enough of a coincidence to presume that there could be a connection.
Taking out the switch, dosing the back with WD40 and cleaning the contacts improved things significantly, but there’s still a glimmer when you switch on more ancilliaries. That said, my initial panic has been tempered by the fact that the IIA still starts on the button, with no drop in cranking power, and the lighter mornings mean that I no longer notice the glow!
Fellow Land-Rover owner and designer Matt Purdon kindly dug out an ageing spare that I intend to clean up and use to prove the idea. But, hey, I’ve got the whole of the summer to sort that… haven’t I?
Out and about in West Berkshire – with spring just around the corner.
New alternator ruled out a charging fault. Spare switch will test theory of resistance.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCar #VW-Beetle / #VW / #Volkswagen-Beetle / #Volkswagen / #Volkswagen-Beetle-MkI
Run by Martin Port
Owned since March 2011
Total mileage 87,698
Miles since February report 1053
Latest costs £137
SERVICE TIME FOR MISFIRING BUG
The Beetle had been doing what was asked of it for some time without any purposeful maintenance, so it came as no surprise when it suddenly developed a misfire one day without warning. A cursory look failed to throw up anything obvious, so I figured that it was time to carry out a full service and see if that resulted in an improvement.
VW Heritage markets a kit that includes plugs, leads, distributor cap and rotor arm (the car is already running a points-less ignition system), but I knew that I also needed to check the valve clearances, and that was a slight issue.
With no replacement for the C&SC workshop in sight, my own garage out of action thanks to ongoing construction work, and the driveway full of building materials, I was faced with carrying out the service at the side of the road.
I’m no stranger to kerbside maintenance but, with a wet winter in full swing, the thought of having to check the clearances while lying in the gutter didn’t appeal much. I was always going to be tempted by an offer from friend and Our classics regular Oli Cottrell to do the job in exchange for a few notes!
When he delivered the car back to me, he was full of praise for how it drove – an assessment that I was pleased with, given that he worked for a time at a classic VW specialist. As suspected, the valve clearances were out and one had closed up, but with everything adjusted the Beetle was full of pep once more… until the following day, when a text from Mrs P read: “Fine going into town, but stuttered all the way back.”
Sorting a loose ignition lead helped a little, but we also decided to look at the carburettor settings. The manual suggests that the volume control screw needs to be somewhere between two-and-a-half and three turns out, but this one was at six, which would explain the black electrodes on the new plugs. After a road test, we settled on three turns and, with a tweak to the air bypass, normal service was resumed.
Typically, with the Beetle ousted from its cosy garage, the cold snap took its toll and killed the battery. That was easily sorted with a visit to the auto factor, but outdoor living is also proving detrimental to the chrome. That is disappointing, because it isn’t even a couple of years old – raising the issue of quality when it comes to parts. With that in mind, when the wash/wipe switch appeared to fail, I was about to order an OEM replacement, but decided to check the rest of the system first. It turned out that the switch was fine and that the upper pipework and nozzle were gummed up.
After dismantling the whole assembly from the water tank upwards and repeatedly sucking out all the muck, the washers function again – but in the process I had succeeded in drowning the adjacent radio. It now only partially works, and out of only one speaker. I’ve never been particularly enamoured with this unit, though, so plans are afoot to conceal an alternative in the glovebox and reinstate the dashboard blanking plate.
With the underbonnet area emptied to attend to the washers, I noticed that the pipe from the fresh air box had disintegrated. This is meant to enable water to drain out, helping to reduce condensation on the windscreen. If, however, the pipe is absent or broken, water just collects in a pool above the fuel tank and will quickly corrode the metal. A new one was bought for £11 and so this is at least one part of the bodywork that won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
THANKS TO Oli Cottrell: 0118 971 2091 / #VW-Heritage : 01273 444000; www.vwheritage.com
Not a Californian sunset, but sunrise over a multistorey in Twickenham. Inset: replacement air box drain tube will help to prevent corrosion.
Air box removed to access washer system Recent chrome already attacked by rust. Pipes and jets were thick with black gunk. Oli doing his best James Herriot impression while attempting to solve the ongoing misfire.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationCar #Land-Rover-Series-II / #Land-Rover
Run by Martin Port
Owned since Sept 2016
Total mileage 22,427
Miles since acquisition four
Latest costs £264
ICE COLD IN… SHEPHERD’S BUSH
Good things apparently come to those who wait, and who am I to argue? About 18 months ago, I spotted a forum post asking for advice about an old Land-Rover with an interesting history and hastily made enquiries – initially in a professional capacity so that I could secure the story. Quickly, though, I became obsessed with the Series II and its past, and for good reason.
In the late 1950s, a young Australian named Philip Kohler was working in Northern Rhodesia. When his contract ended, he decided that he wanted to come back to the UK, but rather than just hop on a plane he opted to buy a new 88in Land-Rover and drive.
The journey took him three years as he crossed the continent – a route that he decided should be plotted on the sides of the hardtop.
The tub wore large letters identifying it as the ‘Trans-Africa’ Land-Rover, beneath which was painted a simple phrase: Haraka haraka haina mbaraka, which, loosely translated, is a Swahili proverb meaning ‘Haste haste has no blessings’ – apt for a Land-Rover intent on crossing the Sahara!
Kohler’s journey introduced him to a new vocation. While in Arusha in Tanzania, he discovered that a film company was in the area and decided to try to get work. So he turned up at 5am each day, and was eventually employed by the director – namely Howard Hawks, the man behind such films as The Big Sleep with Bogart and Bacall and the epic Rio Bravo starring John Wayne.
Hawks was filming Hatari! with Wayne when Kohler came across the unit in 1962, and there he found four months’ employment before continuing his journey and securing more film work. This time it was on The Lion with William Holden, better known for his roles in The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Wild Bunch and The Towering Inferno.
Kohler eventually arrived in the UK in ’1963 and continued in the film industry as a location manager on films such as The Empire Strikes Back, The Killing Fields, Full Metal Jacket, GoldenEye and Octopussy – the Land-Rover remaining his faithful transport for many years.
He sadly passed away in 2015, shortly before I first saw his Series II where it had been sitting, undisturbed, outside the family home for 18 years. After writing the initial article and discussing the best options for preserving the Landie’s history with Mary, his partner of 53 years, I filed it in the mental archives. I was convinced that it would be snapped up by the highest bidder at some point because there was no shortage of interest.
Eighteen months on, though, the 1959 Series II is residing in Berkshire – the keys in my pocket thanks to Philip’s family. The decision to sell the house in White City meant that the Land-Rover finally had to go to a new home and, fortuitously for me, they decided that I should be given the opportunity to secure its future. A deal was done, based not necessarily on value but on what I could raise and there was almost no chance of me saying no, having coveted the SII since I first clapped eyes on it. With a frenzied flurry of activity – in which I’m ashamed to say that ‘real life’ went to the back of my mind – money was transferred, a trailer borrowed, and help enlisted. Six days after the email landed, Greg MacLeman and I were in Shepherd’s Bush, pondering how to extricate the aged vehicle.
The rescue mission drew quite a crowd: the Land-Rover was a wellloved local landmark and plenty of people stopped to take photographs, share their memories and lend a helping hand. After three hours, it was on the trailer, and my IIA did a fantastic job of towing it back to Berkshire. Initial thoughts of getting the Landie straight into the garage were tempered by burst tubes and seized brakes, so I begged for a spot at Classic Jaguar Replicas’ workshop from Oli Cottrell until I could get it to a rolling state.
My first call was to Longstone Tyres to see if it had anything that might suffice in the short-term that wasn’t going to eat too far into my non-existent budget. A set of 600 x 16 ‘bar grip’ crossplies arrived the next day and my local tyre fitters got busy. That meant we could at least push the Series II around and think about the hydraulics, but not before we’d had a look at the engine – just to satisfy our curiosity, of course!
After establishing that the motor held water and oil, we disconnected the line from the tank and dropped it into a jerrycan before priming the fuel system with the pump lever.
I dragged a bit of emery paper between the contact points and then turned the engine over on the starting handle before connecting a battery and spinning it on the starter. Within seconds, the 2286cc petrol unit burst into life and settled to a smooth idle as both Oli and I whooped in celebration!
That wasn’t bad after 18 years of inactivity, but then came news that C&SC’s top brass had suggested – to tie in with the Heroes theme – that the Landie star on our stand at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show – barely a couple of weeks off. So we had a fair amount to do to avoid a lot of pushing and winching.
THANKS TO / Philip Kohler’s family / Greg MacLeman / Oli Cottrell at Classic Jaguar / Replicas: www.jaguarreplicas.com / Longstone Tyres: 01302 714072; www.longstonetyres.co.uk
Philip Kohler realised his ambition to drive solo across the Sahara Desert in the Series II. Inset: a front garden in Shepherd’s Bush had been its home for the past 18 years.
Kohler with Mt Kilimanjaro in the distance. Complete route is painted on the hardtop. Double Landie equipe leaves White City. Trunks and contents left from African trip. Journey went from Cape Town to London. ‘Bar grips’ turned it into a rolling project. Kohler changing a wheel in the desert heat. How did it get to the NEC? See next month.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
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Run by Martin Port
Owned since May 2013
Total mileage 49,487
Miles since July report 2675
Latest costs £12.99
Stunning evening sky as team C&SC checks in at the Portsmouth ferry. Inset: post-race calm with Port and his Landie atop the banking overlooking the Porsche Curves.
DIZZY GRINDS TO A HALT – AGAIN!
With the hub bearing failure a distant memory, it was inevitable that something else would crop up. First was a small stutter that was most noticeable at low revs. A few minutes adjusting the valve clearances sorted that and I took the opportunity to check the compression. With readings all around the 117-125psi mark, I was happy (considering it’s an old, well-used engine), and any concerns of imminent major failure were allayed.
Then came a request from Oxford Scientific Films to use my Land-Rover for a scene that it wanted to shoot for a natural history programme. The director is a regular reader of C&SC and thought that my IIA might be suitable.
Conveniently, the filming was to take place a stone’s throw from the office at Shepperton Studios. So, on a lovely early summer evening, I watched while the riggers assembled what looked like a corner of the Forth Bridge on my front wing, upon which sat a camera worth far more than my IIA. With Pixel the dog in the passenger seat, we did several runs up and down a quiet leafy track in order to get the ultrahigh- def slow-mo shot that they needed. With the sun dipping behind the trees, “It’s a wrap” was called triumphantly and I disappeared back down the M3.
Slightly more nerve-wracking was the annual MoT test. I spent a couple of hours prepping the IIA and was duly rewarded with a pass without advisories. Given my attempts to work more often from home, I was surprised to see that the Landie had still clocked up another 12,500 miles in the past 12 months.
It would then go wrong, as the gearbox began to make odd noises when lifting off the accelerator pedal. In the course of trying to diagnose what, I presumed, was play in the main shaft, I removed the Fairey overdrive, refitted the standard gear and bearing housing and all the noises and play disappeared!
The lock washer had broken up and I found the tabs sitting in the clutch sleeve, but there is a lot of play in the main gear shaft that I suspect is to blame. It will have to stay on the workbench for now until I can undertake the intended rebuild.
Frustratingly, that meant I would once again be heading down to Le Mans for the Classic without overdrive. With a few days to go, in fact, a further misfire came to the fore and, when I removed the distributor cap, I found that yet another 25D body had ‘eaten itself’. Like the last unit, the bob-weights were chomping their way into the casing, causing all sorts of rough running.
It serves me right for fitting a cheap remake I guess, so I dug out an original 45D with the correct advance curve for a Series Land-Rover. The electronic ignition module from the 25D wouldn’t fit, so I popped in a set of points and condenser and it ran just fine – until the following morning, when it refused to go above 10mph. With just hours left before catching the ferry to Caen, I noticed that the distributor cap was faulty – one of the internal contacts had broken loose and so I limped it over to see Will de la Riviere at Beech Hill Garage.
The 45D was a common fitment on later MGBs, so I knew that he would have spares of the required quality. After an hour on the forecourt overhauling the system and once again timing the set-up by ear – with a confirming nod from fellow Landie owner John Alexander – I was back on the road.
In a moment of madness for this Le Mans Classic, I left all of the weather gear at home in a bid to travel light – even ditching the tent in favour of a bivouac-style bedroll.
I’m glad that I did, too – the weather was glorious and, with empty French back roads and just a windscreen for protection, it felt as if I was driving the IIA as much like a sports car as it would allow. Smiles aplenty and, after a stunning few days awash with classics on and off the track, the only dampener was a faulty ferry on the return trip, which meant that I was very nearly the last vehicle allowed on.
“No more 4x4s – too big!” said the nice French lady in charge of loading. So I folded the windscreen to lower its profile, smiled hopefully and, much to my surprise, she waved me on and I reversed into the last available space out on the open ferry deck. Several hours later, I was, as a result, first off in Portsmouth and hitting Winchester before the other chaps had been unloaded. Even a few spots of rain couldn’t ruin the buzz from the weekend and, by midnight, I was crawling into bed, but not before I’d given the Land-Rover an appreciative pat on the wing for being a faithful companion once more!
45D and points replaced electronic 25D.
Pixel the dog in Landie for filming duties.
Last man on; others weren’t quite so lucky.
Lock washer tabs found in clutch sleeve.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.