A step back in time to gizmo free motoring.
I have been driving a few modern 4x4’s this month. Some from the far East and one from The States. What they were is actually irrelevant as, in line with most modern cars, they performed well and offered degrees of comfort comparable with a car. The one irritating feature they all shared was a plethora of stupid gizmos! Manufacturers fit these to give a greater perceived value and be able to add more bullet points to the sales literature, fooling the buying public into thinking they are getting more features for their money. One had 48 pages of the handbook dedicated to the in-car entertainment system! After sifting through them quickly I found there was no Long Wave, therefore no Test Match Special!
The American offering, had myriad annoying buzzers to remind you of the bleeding obvious, for example, one to alert you to the fact that the door was open, another to remind you that you had left the key in the ignition. As I was competing in a Trial at the time, you can imagine just how annoying this one was, as I jumped in and out between each section to the chorus of beeps. The one that really took the biscuit though, was a Japanese pickup. I was driving from Leicester to Peterborough, which has always been East. A display screen has a default image of a compass which was trying to tell me I was heading North. I pressed one of three unidentified buttons on the unit, wondering if that would reset it. Up came the message ‘Drive around in circles in a safe open space’ !!!
It was against this background that I dug my 1948 Land Rover out of the lock-up, put the very simple brass key into the ignition, turned it to the right causing a simple piece of wire to connect the battery via a coil, to the ignition system. Then I pressed the big starter button to send 12 volts to the starter motor and my 60 year old engine burst into life. Our destination was the wedding of young Andrew Sinclair, son of Tony - the proprietor of All-Drive, who have featured many times on these pages. It was destined to be something of a gathering of the clan, with a handful of current and ex Land Rover World contributors getting together on the first really hot day of summer.
The weekend before I had been using the old 80 inch to take garden waste to the tip and the fan belt had broken. Fortunately I was only a mile away and we made it back without drama. It was fair enough as the belt was probably 50 years old! Fortunately, the aforementioned Tony, had one in stock and the morning of the wedding saw me with sleeves rolled up tackling the replacement job armed only with a few bike spanners and an old screwdriver, as the Land Rover was marooned at my partner Jo’s house, not at my garage. Half an hour and one skinned knuckle later, the job was complete and I moved on to cleaning out the garden debris and wiping the oil off the gearbox cover to ensure Jo’s frock would not be ruined.
The only tools available at Tobys’ partners house were a few old bike spanners, a hammer and a big old screwdriver.
Driving over to the wedding in glorious sunshine was a delight and everything one could hope of open topped, Series Land Rover driving. Wind in the hair, the purr of the old engine and the creaks and groans of a suspension system that can trace its legacy back to the horse and carriage. The Land Rover ran well, though did cut out at the lights more than once, reminding me that it’s about time I gave it a service and cleaned the spark plugs etc!
We pulled up outside the venue to join a line up of four other Series Land Rovers, all decked out with ribbons for the big day. The Groom’s 86 inch was there, obviously. Parked next to that was Roo Luckett’s identical 86 inch and behind that was John Carroll’s 80 inch, known affectionately as ‘The Dinosaur’. The was also a friends' Series 2, looking very tidy and, to complete the line up, Tony’s 110. Though younger, it did not look out of place, being finished in the same, Bronze Green paint.
An impressive line up of Series Land Rovers spanning 10 years.
The wedding was unusually late in the day, with the ceremony taking place at 4.00 pm., so by home time the sun had long gone and we were faced with a 30 mile drive back in an open Land Rover. Fortunately Jo had thrown some blankets in, as it really was quite chilly by 11.30pm. We wrapped up and hit the road, taking as many country lanes as were practical with the stars shining above us and the smells of rural England in our nostrils it was a great example of just what fun simple motoring is, in an open topped car devoid of all those stupid gadgets!
Very much a Landy Wedding. Andrew Sinclair, his bride, Paula and various dodgy looking guests.