Post War choices.

Post War choices. The emergence of the 107 Station Wagon as an Overland favourite.


There are so many things we take for granted in our cosseted and comfortable


life in the U.K. today.  Even in the, so called, financial crisis there is always food


and drink in the shops, fuel is available 24 hours a day and many new cars,


big and small, have an option of two or four wheel drive.  I am slightly worried


that many of these things have happened in my own lifetime!  My mother often


reminds me that meat and eggs were rationed at the time of my birth and car


ownership was considered a luxury.   And I’m not talking that long ago.  My birth


coincided with the last of the 80 inch Land Rovers and the birth of the 86 and


107 inch variants.  The ‘export or die’ policy was working well for the Rover Car


Company with their Land Rover selling well throughout the Globe as a more


practical option to the ubiquitous ex-army Jeep.




But what was available for the likes of us?  Those with a sense of adventure, or


a need to travel off the beaten track to far flung locations on a limited budget?  I


guess if I had been born 40 years earlier and planning an expedition I would be


looking at either a robust car remembering that most of the pre-war expeditions


used 2WD trucks and cars, or I might be tempted by an ex-army Jeep.  The


Jeep would be most capable off road, but the car would offer far greater comfort,


speed and security for supplies and equipment locked inside.  One person facing


exactly this dilemma back in 1959 was the young English archaeologist, Charles




The first Expedition to study the Archaeology of the Fezzan in 1959 Charles Daniels (with camera on left) and

five companions on the beach in Dover.





Daniels was starting on an exciting project in the Fezzan region of Libya.  His


logistical problem was getting his team from Durham University 2500 miles south


to their destination in the middle of the Sahara Desert on a limited budget.  ‘Old’


Jeeps were plentiful, as were dedicated trailers and for the first trip they set off


in two heavily loaded Jeeps (called Clarence and Augustus) with one trailer


carrying their equipment.  They travelled overland via France, a ferry to Tunis,


down through Tunisia, turned left and followed the coast to Libya.  Then they


would have had to drive south from Tripoli to Fezzan.  Having been associated


with a very similar project for the last 14 years I have completed the same


journey often.  It is a long, rather straight and very dull stretch of tarmac with


the occasional ramshackle town to break the monotony.  Back then it was just a


dusty track of rough gravel with the occasional stretch of soft sand.  You can still


see the old track running next to the new ‘black top’ in places to this day.




The journey must have been long and very uncomfortable, but they were a


bunch of young and enthusiastic Brits with no other means of getting there with


nothing better to compare their transport.  Imagine their delight a few years later


at being offered the use of two ‘new’ Land Rover LWB Station Wagons.  Whilst


they would not have been much faster, the comfort and security would have set


new standards.  Room for at least four passengers and all the equipment inside


the vehicle, a roof rack on one of them for camping equipment and a heater for


the chilly winter nights.  The ride would have been good on the rough track too. 


With half a ton of luggage and probably four or five people those big leaf springs


would be excellent and performing at their best.  So successful was this basic


suspension design that it lasted well into the mid 1980’s and the last of the


3’s.  The 2 litre engine must have been found wanting a bit on the hills, but in its


prime would have maintained a steady 50 - 55 mph on the flat.




Both LWB Land Rovers parked in the courtyard of the Fort at Muzuq in 1968 with what looks like a Dodge command car.




I do not know where these Land Rovers came from, but the Arabic writing on


the door suggests they were part of an agricultural project in Libya.  Wherever


they came from the option to cover the vast distances involved, in the comfort of


the Land Rover must have given the same thrill then as being offered a pair of


new Defender 110’s now.  The formula appeared to have worked well, as in later


photographs spanning much of the 1960’s there is usually a LWB Land Rover


lurking in the back of the picture.



Then new, this 107 must have driven over 700 miles to reach Muzuq Fort, itself the subject of an attack by The Long Range Desert Group 17  years beforehand in  January 1941





Photographs reproduced courtesy of The University of Leicester, curators of the


Charles Daniels archive for the Society for Libyan Studies.