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  •   Jerry Thurston reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    CAR: #Land-Rover-Series-II / #Land-Rover

    Run by Martin Port
    Owned since Sept 2016
    Total mileage 28,031
    Miles since February
    report 609
    Latest costs nil


    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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  •   Martin Buckley reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    CAR #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
    report 1407
    Latest costs £5


    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.
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  •   Martin Buckley reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Car #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

    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: / Longstone Tyres: 01302 714072;

    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.
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  •   votren911 reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    A return to life in the slow lane. Just as I’d decided that the Scimitar was here to stay, Elliott pinged over an e-mail that began ‘Would you be interested in buying...’ / #Land-Rover / #2016 / #Land-Rover-Series-II /

    CAR #Land-Rover-Series-IIA
    Run by Martin Port
    Owned since May 2013
    Total mileage 12,100
    Miles since acquisition 596
    Latest costs £575

    My reply should have been ‘no’, especially considering that the subject was another Land-Rover – the exact thing that I’d sold because the GTE was faster, more economical (just) and more comfortable. At that stage the Reliant was still in the workshop undergoing surgery, so it seemed unfair to contemplate replacing it. This was the motoring equivalent of sitting in a bar eyeing up a leggy blonde – albeit a slow, smelly one whose eyes were quite close together – while your wife was laid up in hospital. I already felt bad.

    My head said no, but my heart was shouting yes. Comments from Mrs P – who, I should add, was not in hospital and I was not perched on a bar stool – weren’t helping either: “You should buy another Land- Rover. It’s more... ‘you’.”

    I even spent the entire journey home one night trying to convince myself that I should stick with the GTE before I then drove past a Series III sitting majestically in an area of felled woodland while the owner loaded it with logs. It was a period brochure come to life and I found myself smiling at the scene. “Can I come to see it on Friday?” I asked Liam Cardiff, founder of The Warren Classic (see News, July) and vendor of the ‘would you be interested in...’ 1964 Land-Rover.

    Secretly, I hoped that it would turn out to be nothing more than a pile of rust beneath some dented panels to make the decision much easier. So I went, took lots of photos and posted them on the Series 2 Club forum ( to ask for opinions. Fortunately, those in the know reckoned that I could get better for my money, so that was that – or it should have been. What’s the saying about heart ruling head? I had to face facts: something about CSF 46B had got under my skin and a second viewing showed that the all-important chassis was really rather good. Which is exactly why, after chasing several other ‘better’ options, I suddenly had the keys in my pocket and was towing it back to the office.

    There was the minor matter of it passing an MoT test before I spent the rest of my budget on making it look better, though I couldn’t resist buying a set of hood sticks and a tailgate before taking delivery of a new Exmoor Trim full tilt from Bearmach. That meant that the horrid hard-top could go plus, with the help of Clements and Page, the transformation was completed in a lunch-hour. “That’s how a Landie should look!” I exclaimed as I stood back to admire our handiwork and made tentative plans to repaint the body in Bronze Green, but, after two weeks of tinkering with more help from Page, it was MoT time.

    Elliott reckoned that the Landie would pass first time. I didn’t, though, and so a wager was made: one chocolate biscuit to the victor. I decided to hang around at Orleans Garage so that Alan Fox could show me the fail points as he found them... except that he didn’t and the IIA passed with no advisories.

    As I drove away with the certificate beside me, Elliott pulled in to the test station and a moment later a text popped up with the words: ‘You owe me a biscuit.’ I don’t like losing a bet, although this time I was happy to suffer defeat for some reason! It’s good to be back in the world of life-size Meccano.

    Bearmach: 02920856550;
    Britpart: 01588674200;

    Full tilt, new mirrors and blasted trim completes stage one of makeover; wheels are next.
    Port took cash and a trailer... just in case!
    After sitting idle for a year, the IIA gets a shock to the system as Port revisits some green-lane favourites and exercises the leaf springs.
    Clements and Page clear a year of grime.
    Painted galvanised trim was soda-blasted.
    Hard-top made way for sticks and tailgate.
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  •   Martin Buckley reacted to this post about 4 years ago
    CAR #Land-Rover-Series-IIA / #Land-Rover / #Land-Rover-Series-II / #2016

    Run by Martin Port
    Owned since May #2013
    Total mileage 43,970
    Miles since January report 1612
    Latest costs £78


    It was a cold, wet and dark Monday morning when, barely two minutes into my commute, I heard an odd noise from the front of the IIA – followed by a sudden knocking that not only could be heard above the engine, but felt through the pedals. Not an ideal start to the week.

    As the Land-Rover climbed a gradient, I stuck my head out of the window to try to pinpoint the source. But as I reached the peak and then began the descent, I quickly withdrew my bonce, grasping the wheel tightly. It had become apparent that the IIA’s direction of travel wasn’t quite corresponding to my aim!

    I pulled over and checked for visible problems, but failed to see anything. There was nothing else for it – nurse the Landie home and grab the keys to the Beetle instead. The rest of the day at work was torture, of course, with the next eight hours spent mulling over possible causes split chassis?

    Knackered bush in the swivel joint? Broken UJ.

    That evening grabbed a torch I and was at least able to confirm that the chassis was okay okay. A couple of days later, I managed to have a proper poke around during daylight, starting with the obvious: jacking up the front and wobbling the wheels. It became immediately apparent that there was something fundamentally wrong with the offside bearing, but I also realised that, no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the front propshaft to turn. I called Phil Bashall at Dunsfold Land Rover, but he couldn’t get his head round the anomaly either and suggested that it could be a broken differential.

    Local legends Phil and Oli Cottrell even popped by for half an hour to assist with my diagnosis. Phil reckoned that it was the diff, too, but with one of us in the IIA, one underneath, and one at the wheel, we examined all possible combinations of gearing and drive. In the end, it was only when I removed the MAP free-wheeling hub from that side – and observed the half-shaft turning when the prop was rotated that those present had a lightbulb moment.

    Although affecting the steering, it transpired that the freewheel hub had failed – confirming that at least the front diff was okay. That left the bearing at fault so, armed with a replacement inner and outer, I set about the swap. An hour and a half later, the IIA was back on the deck and ready for a test drive. The bearing needed nipping up a little further but, crucially, the knocks, groans and directional ‘variables’ had been eliminated – quite possibly the best-case scenario.

    In the process I had, of course, removed both MAP free-wheeling hubs and reinstalled the standard drive flanges. I was then left to marvel at the spectacular wear on the old outer hub bearing. With the Landie back on the road, it was a good time to finally fit the bargain Viking mascot that I’d bought at the NEC back in November. Strictly speaking, it has nothing to do with the IIA, but a good many owners have added them as a nod to the Rover origins of the company – or perhaps because they have a P4-derived engine under the bonnet. Mine doesn’t, but personally I think it just looks the part!

    A definite end-of-year highlight was being present as the hammer came down at the auction of the two-millionth Defender. The winning bid was a record £400k, with all proceeds going to the Born Free Foundation and the Red Cross. As a bonus, while I was there I finally managed to meet Tim Slessor – a member of the Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition of 1955 and author of First Overland, an inspirational book for any Land-Rover owner. Commuting to London in the IIA doesn’t come close to what Slessor undertook, but oddly he seemed impressed by my stupidity and, as a result, my copy (which ‘I just happened to have with me’), now has a fitting dedication on the title page. Thank you, Sir!

    THANKS TO Dunsfold Land Rover: 01483 200567; Phil and Oli Cottrell: 0118 971

    2091; Kim Palmer

    Viking mascot keeps watch over the road. Port with his hero, who signed book (inset).

    Oli Cottrell passes judgement on the wear Replacement ready to be fitted into hub The new oil seal is carefully tapped home.

    The Land-Rover takes to the track at Bicester Heritage – not its natural habitat, but good fun! Inset: wheel bearing was on the verge of collapse.
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