Up t North in vintage style.
An evocative trip to Leafers in t Pit in Tobys 1948 Land Rover
A chance to talk Land Rovers all day at Leafers at ‘t Pit, near Wakefield, presented a great opportunity for some 80 inch action. I have been using my 1948 Land Rover quite a bit this summer, the weather being well suited to roof off, screen down, motoring. I even gave the old girl a service, cleaning the points and plugs to ensure smooth running and reasonable fuel consumption. As a small personal challenge I thought I would see if I could drive the 100, or so, miles with the screen down, wearing a natty pair of 1930’s French Flying Goggles, that I had recently bought on ebay. The sensation of speed is greatly enhanced sans screen and 45 mph feels like about 70!
As usual, when driving my Series One, I chose a route that would only comprise roads that existed in 1948. Two reasons for this; At 50 mph, my Land Rover is not suited to motorways, but more importantly, I get to see areas of the country usually overlooked in the haste to reach destinations quickly. My route north would be to the east of the M1, through Melton Mowbray, Newark, Worksop and Rotherham, returning to the west of the M1, through The Peak District.
The Vale of Belvoir, at its best in late June after a wet Spring.
Approaching a village the engine cut out.
The sun was shining, but there was an early morning chill in the air as I set off at about 7.00 am on the Saturday morning. Dressed appropriately to ensure I retained as much body heat as possible, I joined the B6047 to Melton. This road is very popular with the biking fraternity, offering a succession of sweeping bends with good visibility and pleasantly smooth tarmac. Heading north out of Tilton-on-the-Hill, the whole Vale of Belvoir opens up before you. The view is truly stunning, especially on a clear morning, seen at a gentle pace from an open car. I bowled along the empty road taking many of the bends in the style of a vintage sports car driver tackling the Prescott Hill Climb, leaning into the bends, elbows well out, silly grin on face! Then, approaching a village the engine cut out. No coughs or splutters, just nothing. Knowing it must be simple I pulled up in front of a derelict roadside garage and lifted the bonnet.
A rare breakdown, easily rectified by twisting some wires together.
The breakdown was so instant it had to be electrical and the only thing I had touched was the contact breaker points. Sure enough, the low tension wire within the distributor had wound itself around the rotor arm and lost connection. My fault for not relocating it properly after cleaning the points. An easy fix and I was on my way within 10 minutes. It was at this point that I accepted the fact that it was to be the coldest 19th June since records began and raised the screen for the rest of the journey.
Mixing with the traffic around Wakefield was a chore I had to endure to reach the National Coal Mining Museum, venue for the Leafers at ‘t Pit event. A meeting only open to leaf sprung Land Rovers. Pulling into the car park I was rewarded by the sight of about 100 Land Rovers spanning three and a half decades. It’s always interesting to see other peoples slant on personalising their truck and a few caught my eye. A very nice 80 inch owned by a chap called Steve. It was Steve’s every day motor and he’d fitted a 200 Tdi engine giving him a huge hike in practicality, yet retaining the old Land Rover charm. A beautifully restored 80 inch, much the same age as my own, with the registration number DCT 788 had clearly been a labour of love for its owner over a few years and the Jackson's 101 with a derelict Series 2 Station Wagon in tow made an interesting time capsule. There is something rather addictive about that ‘barn find’ look to any enthusiast. Maybe it’s our eternal hunt for some rare and desirable old Land Rover tucked away and dressed with period accessories?
In the line up of similar Land Rovers from the late forties and early fifties. Great to see them in use.
After a solid four hours of Landy chat it was time for me to head back in the hope of completing the journey in daylight - the original 1948 Butler lights are perfect for the farm, hopeless on the road! I headed west to Huddersfield, then south to Penistone - source of many a schoolboy smirk! Then across to Ladybower Reservoir on a succession of small ‘B’ roads, on down through the Hope Valley, to Hathersage and Matlock. A combination of accurate map reading and my Sat Nav ensured I made few navigational mistakes and the rewards for this dedication were views across vast tracts of unspoilt Derbyshire, away from the tourists and speeding modern traffic. A pace and setting far more suitable for a 1948 Land Rover.
The run back south, through some of the most unspoilt bits of Derbyshire.
Copyright Toby Savage