Retro and Classic Car’s new contributor James Wylie owns a 1976 Land Rover Series III 88″ diesel that has been in my family from new. He tells us how the Land Rover came into his hands.
In 2006 I picked up my first Land Rover magazine as I had noticed a shot of the new 2007 model on the front cover. Reading this issue from front to back I was enthralled by the variety of vehicles and equipment available and I was hooked. From that moment on I bought the magazine every month and soon came to the conclusion that I wanted my own Landie. The older vehicles were of most interest to me, I don’t really know why but there you go!
Fast forward to early 2009 and the topic of my Granda’s old Land Rover came up at the dinner table, Mum had learnt to drive it and was telling of how she had had an impromptu meeting with one of the farm hedges when it was new. I had completely forgotten about the Land Rover! With a few enquiries I found that it was lying in the corner of one of my Uncle’s fields rather the worse for wear. Granda was most amused to hear of my interest in it as a project but in April 2009 we pulled her out of the field using a tractor and dragged her up the lane to his shed. I wasn’t allowed to start work until my A-Levels were finished but on 2nd June 2009 the task began. The strip down was quick and revealed a lot of rust in all the usual Land Rover spots but Granda had had a galvanised chassis fitted before she had gone out of use for 12 years. This sealed the deal for me, as it was a solid foundation to build on. A mechanic friend cast his eye over it and told me the bulkhead was too far-gone to repair. Thankfully I was able to source another 1984 Land Rover locally and bought it very cheaply for its bulkhead and other spares. A few repairs were required here and these were done with the help of a local farmer. Over time the axles were refurbished with many new parts installed through out.
Due to my commitments as a medical student I was only able to work on Saturday afternoons during term time and the odd evening during holidays. In the cold winter months I was down in the shed on a few occasions at seven o’clock in the snow waiting for the sun to rise enough to provide light to work by. I had no electricity in the shed so only hand tools were practical. All my work was self-taught from reading the magazines and Haynes manual and the only assistance I received was to lift the heavier components.
In early August 2010 I was able to start the engine (first turn) and drive the rolling chassis down the lane to my Granda’s house where he got to see it from his sick bed. Sadly he passed away not long after but I’m glad he was able to see how far I had got by that point.
Once the chassis was rolling the main bodywork started. All the original cream paint was stripped off down to the bare aluminium alloy by hand with wire wool and Nitromors. I will never make that mistake again! Pricing around I found that a professional respray was out of my budget so for handiness I thought I would have a go myself. I chose to use Halford’s spray cans as I could come and go from the job as I pleased and could fit it in around my studies. On the day of the Royal Wedding I was much too busy spraying to worry about the goings on in Westminster Abbey!
The final job was to pay an electrician to rewire her as this is outside of my capabilities then it was MOT time! Our Northern Ireland MOT is much more difficult to pass than on the mainland so the fact that I passed first time was a great achievement.
Sadly due to prohibitive insurance costs for young drivers the Land Rover has been parked in the garage until now, but are we now on the road.
You can follow James here