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