A 37 Year old Land Rover

It is perhaps fitting that after driving half way round the country in search of a car, we should end up bringing life back to the beast that we bought on our previous such adventure. Back in 2003 Dave and I spent a mad week too-ing and fro-ing across the length and breadth of England in search of a car for him and an old Land Rover. We ended up getting both from just off the M5 near Wellington... Anyway, since I moved to Scotland the Land Rover has been laid up in Dave's garden, feeling sorry for itself.

Will it start?

The first thing that was done was to turn the ignition key and see what life there was. We had tank of diesel; enough battery to turn the engine over and an engine which was prepared to turn over to boot. But it wouldn't start. Cautious of doing damage, we left it at that and went to get some oil. We also topped up the radiator and got some heavy duty jump leads. Once the Saab had been forced through the bushes to find the Landy (the battery is located under the passenger seat, so we needed long leads, stretched across the cab and out the window. We also had to lift the battery out for them to reach!), we tried to start it once more. At first, we couldn't get the cold-start glow-plug light to come on, but once that lit up the engine fired second time, and sounded healthy enough. IT WORKED!

Will it move?

With the engine now running by itself, and the battery on charge, the next thing was to see if the old Landy would make it's way through the Holly bush to the driveway. I gingerly forced the reluctant gearstick into first and eased out the clutch. It bounced, but didn't move. I tried reverse, thinking that maybe rocking back and forth would help, and it lurched back a foot or so. Back in first, I was a little heavier with the accelerator and suddenly the branches were scraping the sides as it kangaroo-ed onto the drive. We were stunned that after 4 years of neglect, we had got the beast running in under half an hour, more than that, that neither the brakes nor the engine had ceased and that at first glance it seemed to be in pretty good shape all things considered!

Will it pass an MOT?

Errr, no! We pretty much knew that an MOT failure was inevitable, but booked it in for 3 days later all the same just to get a fail sheet and so assess the damage. It needed jumping again, but ten minutes later we reckoned the battery was charged enough to take it to the garage, and so I carefully eased it onto the road. At the end of the road I eventually managed to force it back into High Ratio, as low ratio was giving me a top speed of about 20 in top gear! It was an anxious hour or so while we waited, but when we got back even the blokes at the garage seemed genuinely surprised with it. Yes there was some work to do, but as we had told them its history, they said it should have been a lot worse.

  • Three small pieces of welding needed doing.
  • The brakes 'didn't work' - I beg to differ - but it could just be as simple as refilling the brake fluid...
  • Half a dozen bulbs had blown.
  • A slight fault with a prop shaft.
    On top of this, there were some more advisory points and a couple of things that we were surprised they didn't complain about:
  • All four springs could do with replacement.
  • General corrosion of vehicle.
  • The tyres aren't in great shape.
  • The chassis could really do with being undersealed.

    So, all in all, quite a good result. Of course, the Land Rover specialist has quoted us about a thousand just to get it through the MOT, but it could be a lot worse!