Star of the Small Screen.
The brief history of the 80 inch that opens the recent Land Rover TV Advertisement.
Watching Channel 4’s coverage of the Paralympics last month at opposite ends of the country two of us nearly choked on our Horlicks as we saw an 80 inch Land Rover at the start of a TV advert. ‘That’s my old Land Rover’ we both said simultaneously as GTM 228, Chassis number R860348 flashed across our screens! It was parked on a beach with a man drawing lines in the sand and the voice over saying “We were conceived on a beach in 1947”.
Our story starts back in 1972 when Steve Teague and I were Photography students at Salisbury College of Art. The film Blow up starring David Hemmings as a trendy Photographer was a big influence and the opening scene depicts a Series 1 Land Rover overflowing with Art Students dressed as clowns. This image may have hit a cord as we both bought old Land Rovers. I had TME 698, that I still own today and Steve bought GTM 228 for the princely sum of £46, including a years tax!
After College we went our separate ways, but have remained in touch. Steve used GTM as his daily driver in Bristol and decided to spruce it up with a thick coat of Dulux Primrose Yellow. Mine was used on a daily basis but finished in a more subtle desert sand colour. Steve admitted to regretting his choice eventually giving another old college pal, Jeff Steedman the job of respraying it Old English White with black galvanised cappings. Steve remembers changing engines at least three times and sadly the original engine would have been scrapped during this period.
In 1975 I was a competing member of The Peak & Dukeries Land Rover Club and we ran that years National Rally at Ashover - a great venue and always popular. I suggested to Steve and another ex- Salisbury Land Rover owner Willy McCracken that they may like to come up for a get together and Steve could ‘navigate’ for me in the Comp Safari (we ran out of petrol just half way round.... fail!) I was there in good time on the Friday and Willy turned up some time later that night, couldn’t find me and slept in amongst the trophies in the club’s old caravan! Steve and his pal Dave White set off from Bristol in GTM with good intentions of a Friday evening arrival, but stopped for a pint half way and somehow joined in with the 21st Birthday celebrations of a complete stranger! Tearing themselves away at closing time their epic journey continued with them finally arriving at about 3.00 am. when their fumblings with a big frame tent caused a bit of a stir!
Shortly after this Steve made the move to a hot hatchback and sold GTM to a work colleague, Chris Wiltshire, who had a collection of old cars. Chris did little with it and I happened to mention that if he was ever to sell it, I would be interested. At some point during the late ‘70’s I collected GTM on a trailer from Chris and handed over £250 storing the venerable Land Rover, which no longer ran, in a nice dry barn where it collected a thick layer of dust. In 1982 I bought a house and was forced to sell a few things which saw GTM pass into the safe hands of Ivor Ramsden who was thrilled with his ‘barn find’ 80 inch and paid me £500 for it. Enough to cover the cost of my new central heating and give Ivor a perfect restoration project. Ivor lavished GTM with the care and workmanship it deserved as it was, by this time, acknowledged as being a very early Land Rover, rather that just an ‘old Landy’ as it had been in 1972. I’m not sure how long Ivor owned GTM, but at some stage it ended up in the stable of the top Series 1 restorer Ken Wheelwright, but owned by his son, Alan.
The last time I saw GTM was on Ken’s purpose built Leyland Beaver car transporter along with other fully restored early Land Rovers at the Eastnor LRW Show back in 2005. According to its current owner, Yan Pringle, it actually stayed on that lorry until he bought it from Alan Wheelwright in 2010. Although stored in the dry it was suffering from neglect and Yan ‘rescued’ it to add to his own collection of cherished early Land Rovers. He had no knowledge of the advert, but assured me that it is ready to drive and we hope to recreate the shot of both Land Rovers when they were last on the road together way back in 1975 - when we all had hair!
If you missed the ad search for ‘Land Rover Australia TV 2012’ on YouTube.
I am most grateful for the asistance given by Steve Teague and Yan Pringle in writing this feature.
GTM 228 as it apperars in the TV advert.
Steve, Willy and Dave White compete in the P&D National Rally 1975.
Toby’s TME 698 and Steve’s GTM 228 ready to go home after the National 1975.