Fiesta Siesta.

Fiesta Siesta. A speculative interpretation on the history of a venerable Santana Land Rover in Tenerife.

Dig around in the nettles, or peer deeply into the gloom of an old barn and the chances are you will find relics of a long forgotten Land Rover decaying at a pace set by the climate.  On holiday in Tenerife over Easter I noticed a rather scruffy construction blotting the landscape on the other side of the valley from our hotel and took a leisurely walk round to investigate.  Peering beneath it’s shrouds trying not to look suspicious I found a relatively intact Series 2A  Santana LWB Land Rover, which I would guess left Solihull as a kit car to be assembled in Santana’s Andalucia factory sometime in the early 1970’s.  The warm climate and lack of rain in Europe's most southerly islands had kept he chassis in pretty good condition, but the bodywork had suffered, as every car seems to on the Island, from numerous scrapes with harder objects.


Quite how it had reached its resting place and the story of its final year can only be speculated, but it certainly had an interesting time.  Welded to it was a permanent structure to support a Carnival Float able to accommodate probably a dozen people dressed in dazzling costumes and perhaps dancing to music from either the village band or some onboard music system.  Spanish Fiestas are wild events and hold nothing back in terms of colour and noise!  The alcohol would have been in full flow and this venerable old 109 right at the heart of somebody’s exhibit.  But who’s was it and what was it’s history before the conversion?

The process would have started at a Fiesta planning meeting some months before the great event and various locals would have gathered in the village hall to discuss logistics and job allocations.  The local wine producers of nearby Oratava led by representatives of the Garcia Farrais family would have wanted to put on a good show to promote their Tajinaste wines - famous throughout Tenerife.  The old Land Rover had seen enduring service high in the hills above Oratava just below the rim of the Volcano Crater since it’s purchase 40 ears before.  This country is the preserve of the 4x4.  For many years relying on Land Rovers built by the "Metalúrgica de Santa Ana, SA" over in mainland Spain, but now far more reliant on the ubiquitous far eastern imports with strange things like heaters and power steering!

Old man Garcia Farrais may have offered the Santana as a basis for a float realising its days were numbered on the vineyard, but maybe his son Augustin would have interupted his generous offer to the committee pointing out:  “Ese viejo trasto oxidado no podría ni arrastrar su propio peso, ni mucho menos la vieja carroza de feria que llevaría encima por las cuestas de Los Realejos!” which roughly translates as ‘The Land Rover is down on power and rusty and may not be able to negotiate even the slightest of hills, let alone the steep ones in Los Realjos’.  Reaching for the large jug of tinto in the centre of the table the more senior man put his tactics into force and filled the local mechanics glass to the brim with a beaming smile, hoping he remembered the favour he owed the old man for supplying all the wine for his daughters wedding the previous year.  Seduced, Pedro, the affable garage owner, more used to fixing the cars of elderly ladies who had slipped the clutch once too often, agreed to wring enough power out of the 2.25 petrol engine to enable it to drive slowly round the course in low ratio.

With this rudimentary repair work completed and a test run around the course achieved, albeit with masses of play in the steering and two hefty pumps on the brake pedal to slow the beast, it was time to build the superstructure for the float.  Artisans skilled at fabricating wine storage racks, garages and workshop shelving built a platform capable of supporting half the village from heavy gauge 2 x 2 square section steel, left over from the construction of an extension of the Docks up in Santa Cruz.  Their work finished it was time for the children and mothers to decorate the float with colourful fabrics and matting to dance on within the confines of the 12 x 6 foot platform and name their creation  ‘La Pastelosa’.  The day would have been a great success with the street rammed with people - mostly locals, but a few bemused tourists trying to capture the atmosphere on film before realising it was impossible to condense 360º madness into a two dimensional 6x4 inch print back in chilly Blighty.

The Santanas work done it really had no future in the wine trade as the platform was a permanent fixture welded to the chassis and bulkhead, and it was now impossible to open the bonnet for even an oil level check.  With a dying gasp it was driven to its final resting place where, fortunately, the brakes worked and avoided a plunge off the edge of the valley into the rocks below.  And there it will probably stay unless some enthusiast rescues it and converts it into an Overland truck to fulfil some other equally exotic adventure elsewhere.

Should you be that optimist it rests at N 28º 23’ 14.54”  W16º 35’ 12.17”  and appears to have been there when Mr Google’s Satalite recorded the area in March 2012.


Toby-882.jpg Difficult to spot, but beneath the remains of this carnival float is a fairly complete LWB Land Rover.

Toby-885.jpg  Either a Series 2A with Series 3 wings, or vice versa, but certainly very black!

Toby-887.jpg  ‘La Pastelosa’ now parked on a steep incline may become a permanent fixture of the hillside.

Toby-888.jpg  Robust steps and a window box for living plants must have made this a very versatile float.

Toby-890.jpg  A rather neat exhaust pipe extension to save the the folks up top being gasses by fumes.

Toby-894.jpg  The drivers view must have made negotiating the narrow and very steep lanes tricky.

Toby-908.jpg  The fascinating view from our hotel that had to be investigated.

Toby-941.jpg  this superstructure was intended as a permanent fixture.  Strong and welded at every point.

Toby-943.jpg The cab featuring plastic drum petrol tank held in with ties.

Toby-947.jpg  That bonnet will never open again without the aid of an angle grinder.

Toby Savage April 1st 2013.

07785 902530

42 Cradock Road,


Reproduced by kind permission of Classic Land Rover Magazine