I was 23 when I got my Class one Heavy Goods licence (CDL), I loved driving, I just wanted the learn the skills to be able to reverse something as big and heavy as a house into the tightest space – and I did.
A few years later and I bought a very old 1978 Range Rover with a 3.5 V8 because I loved climbing and spent my spare time in the UK’s Peak District trying to navigate rocky and muddy tracks in my car.
In no time I realised there was a ton of things I just didn’t know about driving off-road – but I loved driving, so what to do?
I ended up calling the Managing Director of Land Rover directly, we chatted, I told him my plight and my fear of either damaging the environment, the car and worse still – myself.
Three days later I was standing in an office in front of a man called Don Green [in all things Four Wheel Drive – he’s a legend].
I went on to spend the whole day driving the then factory high-speed test track and the once highly renowned Land Rover Jungle Track.
I was so impressed I said to everyone they should open a school.. They said they only train people who really need to know how to use the vehicles properly in off-road environments.
Two years later and I get a call… We’re setting up the “Land Rover Experience” would you like to come along and try it out?
I went, I qualified as a specialist, then became the 2nd person to ever qualify as an instructor (and when you consider no other manufacturer was running these courses – that’s kinda a big deal I guess). I learned the layout in great personal detail of the proving ground tucked away at Eastnor Castle and while it’s very much a commercial sales entity these days, I loved it. So armed with all things Land Rover, a 110 and issued overly embroidered overalls – I did it for a living!
From Camel Trophy to vehicle testing I loved this incredible mentally tough system of driving and know-how; vehicle self recovery and winching, service and repair in the field, driving through water too deep and how to do it, expedition configurations, load bearing, tires, ice and snow techniques and so on. In fact I later took a telecommunications job in Saudi Arabia just to gain extreme desert experience – and my knowledge and skills were soon taken up by various parties. One of which became an issue with the MK 2 Range Rover, I flagged it up to Land Rover and it caused a redesign of the latest version being tested in South Africa at that time.
But these are bygone days, days, month and years of fond memories.
Of course these days I maybe a little long in the tooth for people who believe that by simple ownership of a 4X4 means it’ll just get them through any situation – it’s a bit like this: If I bought a plane does it make me a pilot?!
We tested every type of vehicle made around the world in nearly every environment – but the one single vehicle that came out of even the worse situation was this
The Land Rover Defender 110
The venerable Landy… started production 68 years ago… and it’s just about to go out of production with no immediate replacement in sight – and that is a crying shame!!
It’s sold all over the world, but not in North America because they’re built literally by hand and Land Rover originally could not cope with the extra workload.
Sure I can tell you all the well-known clichés like 70% of all Landy’s are still running, and for the majority of the world, the first vehicle they ever saw was a Land Rover… but even if you don’t own one or you do and it never sees a field, mud, sand or frozen tundra – it’s still the most iconic 4×4 in the world – few beat it, nothing can replace it and to see it stop production is not just sad – it’s wrong…
This is the shoulder that all others stand upon…