Starting to look like a truck

When Luke Richards started restoring this truck he was going to make it a soft top to take full advantage of the beautiful California weather. And my first thought was for a soft top, too. Missouri winters be damned! But in the end I decided to invest the extra money (and time) in a hardtop which I can remove in warmer weather. Six months on, six months off.

Can’t tell from the photo above but it looks like the seats might be in, so I’d say we’re getting close.

Land Rover Series III Driving Techniques

Frankly, I’ve never understood the appeal of off-road vehicles. ATV, dirt bikes, etc. But after watch a whole bunch of videos showing Land Rovers doing impossible things in all kinds of terrain, I’m getting a little tingle.

Mind you, I have few legitimate reasons to go “off road,” but a couple of times a year a big rain will completely wash out the gravel road leading to our house. Deep ruts that would swallow my MINI whole. I’ll be sure to post videos.

Fear not, I’m going to spend some time practicing this kind of driving, starting with gentle roadside ditches and farm pastures.

PS: Looks like this video was produced in 1972 but the voice-over sounds like 1955.

Unwanted keepsakes

Barb grew up with five brothers and sisters all sitting around a big dinning room table that was soaked in memories. After her parent died it sat in our basement for years. She was sure a niece or nephew (we are child-free) would want this — and other — treasures. They didn’t, for all of the reasons mentioned in this interesting story.

As baby boomers grow older, the volume of unwanted keepsakes and family heirlooms is poised to grow — along with the number of delicate conversations about what to do with them. According to a 2014 United States census report, more than 20 percent of America’s population will be 65 or older by 2030. As these waves of older adults start moving to smaller dwellings, assisted living facilities or retirement homes, they and their kin will have to part with household possessions that the heirs simply don’t want.

My parents grew up during the Depression (mom on a farm, pop in town) so when they could afford to buy some stuff, they did. And it was important to them.

The competitive accumulation of material goods, a cornerstone of the American dream, dates to the post-World War II economy, when returning veterans fled the cities to establish homes and status in the suburbs. Couples married when they were young, and wedding gifts were meant to be used — and treasured — for life.

I’ve been looking around me as I write this, looking for things I’ll someday want to find a home for. Things with sentimental value. There’s an old microphone used at the station my father and worked at but any collector of radio memorabilia will be thrilled to have it.

As I’ve come to understand that my memories aren’t as real as I once thought them to be, the material items associated with those memories seem less valuable.


Apparently it is not uncommon to name one’s old Land Rover. This is Fergus and he (it?) belongs to a new acquaintance in the Kansas City area.

You can’t look too close- it needs a frame, and isn’t restored but is set up to take it into the forest for firewood. We left the dents in the body, rough cut the rear bulkhead out for more legroom, added comfortable suspension seats, and lifted it a bit with parabolics and OME sport shocks. One day I will take it apart again for a frame swap and better engine. The 2.25 gas just doesn’t have enough power to be safe on the highway. I lose 10 mph just going up hills!

I believe this is a Series IIa and I think it’s beautiful. I’m fond of the bikini top and will probably go that route next next spring. Here’s another angle on Fergus.

Return of the Land Rover Defender?

I can’t get too snooty about these “new and improved” Defenders since my Series III was produced in Santana, Spain. Far from merry olde England. But there is something so very appealing to me about having an old truck that has been lovingly and meticulously restored. As opposed to a spanking new model that “looks like” the old ones.

A long time coming, Automotive News is now reporting details sourced from Land Rover about a brand-new Defender (UK production of the old model ceased in January 2016). The new Defender should debut in 2019, and is intended for all global markets. Multiple body styles will be available, and the company assures us the new Defender will look plenty Defender-y, without falling into the retro design trap.

Unlike the old Defender’s aluminum panels stamped over a steel frame, the new model will be a modern aluminum unibody, much like the current Range Rover. While many will surely bemoan the Defender’s loss of a traditional frame, it’s quite necessary for crash ratings, emissions standards, comfort, practicality, platform sharing, and probably 210 other reasons. Full story »

And these new Land Rovers will probably be produced in Slovakia.

What’s a clutch?

I’ve never given a thought to having a car stolen. No annoying alarm, no Club. And I’ve never owned a car that would be particularly attractive to car thieves. In a couple of months I’ll be driving a truck that might very well catch a thief’s eye. My friend George pointed out few car thieves could drive my Land Rover because it has a manual transmission. Could that be right, I wondered?

According to U.S. News and World Report “only 18 percent of U.S. drivers know how to operate a stick shift” and “only about 5 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. today come with a stick shift. That’s down from 25 percent of cars in 1987.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t really any data that proves that cars/trucks with manual transmissions are stolen less frequently. “In some cases, if the thief was smart, the car could be put in neutral and pushed away.” (story)

I have a little trouble picturing a car thief pushing a car unless the chop shop is around the corner. I suppose a truly sophisticated effort could involve a flat-bed truck. They’ll need to be quick about however, because my tracking device will alert me if the truck is moved.

When You Can’t Stop Looking Ahead, Look Backwards

More wisdom from David Cain:

This is the ephemeral nature of human experience, and remembering the gist of it can really take the edge off our current worries. So when it seems like you can’t stop looking forward, look back. They all came and went, and few of them seem to justify the worry we suffered over them.

Because we overlook the ephemeral, passing quality of the events in our lives, we engage in this habit of obsessing over the latest uncertainty, stretching its potential pain into days or weeks of guaranteed pain, in the form of worry. By perpetually trying to guarantee for ourselves a painless future, we are perpetually creating a painful present.

When You Can’t Stop Looking Ahead, Look Backwards

Uber and Lyft

Relied on Uber and Left to get around in San Diego last week and every ride was a positive experience. Never waited more than 8 or 10 minutes for a ride; drivers were all courteous; cars were very clean. And in almost every instance, the driver took Uber and Lyft hails. The little emblem in the windscreen had Uber logo on one side and Lyft on the reverse.

I had a problem (with my credit card) the first night and had to call a local taxi. Took half an hour to get picked up. I find myself taking more trips than I would if relying on taxis. Just don’t see how taxis can compete. There’s something about opening the app and seeing how near or far the Uber and Lyft cars are, then watching as it approaches my location.