The Hoarders Legacy.

The Hoarders Legacy. A Barn Find 110 with an eccentric past.

You would be forgiven for not considering this 1991 110 a true classic.  It is only 24 years old and has coil springs and seat belts, but bare with us…  it is one of the last not to wear a ‘Defender’ badge and is simply known as a 110.  It has the lovely 3.5 V8 engine that dates back to 1960 when, as the Buick 215 it was used in various Buicks, Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles in the States.   As if that engine was not enough to grant this Land Rover classic status, then the bizarre story of the last owner must surely render it suitable for inclusion in the pages of this magazine.

I have a friend, Seamus, who lives near me and is a Facebook friend, as well as a proper ‘meet you in the pub in half an hour’ friend.  Early in 2015 Seamus started posting photographs on Facebook of an elderly gentleman's house.  This man, Jeremy, was a family friend and, at 85, was well into the autumn of his years.  What was unusual was that he suffered from a medical condition know as Compulsive Hoarding.  Put simply, he could not throw anything away.  Coupled to this he was unrestrained by financial worries, his family having been well off and he had been a successful Doctor throughout his career.  It had been made clear to Seamus’s family that come the day, they would inherit the lot as Jeremy had no descendants - this day was not far off.  Looking at the pictures Seamus was posting this could have been interpreted as a poisoned challis!  There was so much rubbish to clear from each of several houses and their structural condition was so poor that any normal sale value would be halved at least.  However, it looked a very interesting project with which to become involved, so the week after the fateful day, my son Will and I committed to helping Seamus clear all the clutter.

The main house was given priority. A sizeable four story Victorian terrace, each room impossible to walk into without stepping over hoarded miscellany.  It was whilst we were chatting that Seamus told us there were several lock up garages housing all the cars he had never got rid of and even a large industrial unit about 15 miles away. The contents of which were then unknown.

Many eBay and Car Boot Sales later and when the last of 200+ Transit pickup loads of black bin liners had gone to the tip, the house was finally cleared. It was time for Seamus to find and explore the Industrial Unit.  Again he posted a photo on Facebook and there, in the background was the unmistakable outline of a Land Rover roof and windscreen.  I offered our help again and asked about the Land Rover.  Not being a petrol head Seamus just said ‘Oh it’s a great big Defender thing’.

Interests aroused, Will and I turned up with Seamus one Saturday morning to assess the situation.  The Unit had an overwhelming smell of rat pee and was filled with rubbish and discarded cars; A V6 Freelander where mice had eaten through the engine wiring loom, a V6 Izuzu Trooper that we got running and the family have kept, a V6 Vauxhall that went for Banger Racing and an Austin Maxi (He had about 6 of these scattered around Leicester in lock up garages - they were snapped up by members of the Maxi Owners Club.

The Land Rover was a 1991 V8, which had not been used for a while and, like everything else, was full of rubbish.  There was a worrying amount of surface rust on the chassis and the bulkhead was showing some rust where the screen is attached.  Everything we touched was sticky with years of dirt and there was a rotting mouse corpse in the back.  A diesel version would have been so much more useable, but over a pint that evening Will and I confirmed that we really did not have any need for a V8 Station Wagon.  By the second pint we were more positive arguing that it would be very useful for actually clearing the unit when used with the large box trailer that was also in there.

The following morning we contacted Seamus with a plan.  We would put in three full weekends clearing the rubbish from the unit and hand over a fistful of cash for the Land Rover and a few other bits and pieces that would prove useful to our respective households - a Clarke engine crane, a new cooker and some smaller items.  We returned with jump leads and a battery and to our surprise the V8 engine started easily and sounded good.  We inflated the tyres and eased it out into daylight for a gentle run around the farm where the unit was.  All seemed okay and we felt we may just have made a good decision.  It had been SORN for the last five years, but stored here in the dry, so the first priority was to get our new toy insured, which entailed a simple phone call and then an MOT.

We booked it in for an afternoon MOT at the MOT Station next to my other son, Matt’s workshop near Matlock, working on the theory that if there was any work to be done Matt could do it.  The drive up to  Darley Dale was most enjoyable and the Land Rover felt good, if a little lethargic.  The V8 had done 144,000 and although free of nasty noises, there was perhaps some wear.  Matt and mechanic, Andy, had a good look over it and replaced a few bulbs, before we took it next door for the MOT.  After an anxious wait of an hour the news came back that it had failed on the nearside cone over the coil spring being too rusty, but everything else was fine.  They pointed out that the chassis had quite a lot of surface rust, but there were no actual holes.  A new cone was fitted the following day, it passed and we taxed it that afternoon. We were up and running and ready to burn some fuel!

The following weekends were spent filling the box trailer and moving stuff out of the unit. Old lawn mowers and other metal items went for scrap, but I also managed to get a permit to take five trailer loads to the local tip which just about concluded it.  The only thing left was a chest freezer that nobody had dared to open.  I was there on my own on a weekday morning filling the trailer for the last run and asked the farmer if the freezer was his?  It wasn’t, so it had to go.  It had been switched off since Jeremy passed away two months earlier so it was with considerable trepidation that I lifted the lid.  He had hoarded meat as well!  All cheap value packs of mince, sausages and chickens.  There was about 3 inches of red watery liquid in the bottom, but fortunately none of the packs had burst, so the smell was bearable.

I double bagged each disgusting pack and carefully lifted them into the back of the 110, then manhandled the freezer into the trailer and drove, very carefully to the tip, where nobody paid any great attention to what I was tipping, but I would not want to be down wind of the compactor when those bags were crushed!

The Land Rover had earned its keep as a workhorse.  Now it was time to embark on the light restoration work to bring it back to a useable and enjoyable state.  The ‘to do’ list was quite long, but all within our ability and will be the subject of the next instalment.

001  From Barn Find, to useable workhorse. We follow the eccentric story of this 1991 V8 110

002    The Facebook Photo that started it all. The unmistakable roof-line of a Land Rover sparked Toby and Will’s imagination

003    The Unit and Land Rover was full of rubbish with the ubiquitous damp mattress that all garages seem to store

004    A booster battery soon had the V8 running and sounding remarkably good

005    Toby and son Will inflated the tyres and drove the Land Rover out for the first time in five years. First impressions were good

006    The bulkhead top was rusty in the usual places, but there were no actual holes

007    At Matt Savages workshop near Matlock the Land Rover was given a thorough pre-MOT inspection

008    Chassis surface rust was a concern, but there were no holes, even when given a sharp prod with a screwdriver

009    The Land Rover had clearly been well maintained as many parts were new and there was little, or no wear in the steering and brakes

010    The rear crossmember had been welded and, whilst functional, it would not win any prizes

011    With a fresh MOT, taxed and insured the 110 was put straight into service clearing trailer loads of rubbish.  Scrap metal was weighed in

012    Potentially the worst item was a chest freezer that had been switched off for months!

013    The final tip run before the 110 could stand down from it’s duty and restoration could commence

Toby Savage November 2015