When 50 feels like 80

Since pulling the trigger on a Series (III) Land Rover, I’ve been on a steady diet of YouTube videos. Restoration videos; how-to videos; for sale videos; and lots of fan videos. One of the best of these is on a channel called Harry’s Garage. I gather Harry knows a good bit about cars and he is very found of his 1954 Series I Land Rover.

First half of the video is a walk-around and in the second half he takes us for a ride. The person recording the video is in the back of the truck and you can see the road and the speedometer. But you can’t hear a word old Harry is saying because the truck is so loud. When the speed reaches 50 mph the truck is shaking like the space shuttle during lift-off.

Since learning my new highway top-end would be around 50 mph I’ve been setting the cruise control on my MINI at 55 to get a feel for what was coming. It felt frighteningly slow. Every other car whizzing by. How will I get used to this, I wondered.

I won’t have to. Riding along with old Harry in his Series I at 50 mph felt like 80 mph!

Starting to look like a truck


Wish I knew the names of the technicians working on my truck. Trying to put together a trip to San Diego to see the truck and maybe learn about about its history. Probably a long shot. Nice to start getting some photos again. Never seen a battery like the one below. I’m told that’s because it has to crank a diesel engine.

If you’re joining us late, you can read about the beginning of the Land Rover adventure here.

Land Rover Repair Operation Manual

I purchased a Repair Operation Manual for my Land Rover. This is different from the owner’s manual. “The purpose of this manual is to assist skilled mechanics in the efficient repair and maintenance of the range of vehicles given on the title-page.” (Series III)

Land Rover owners insist these trucks are so simple, so basic, that any good auto mechanic can service and repair them. But the truck is 38 years old and having the factory manual can’t hurt. It was pricey but a good investment.

Chrome and Duct Tape

Had the bonnet up on the MINI yesterday and noticed a piece of trim had come loose. Tiny screw broke free from a plastic mount. Guessing the dealer would replace the strip and it would cost me a couple of hundred bucks. Plan B was a piece of duct tape, just to keep it from rattling. (A time-honored tradition in southern Missouri where I grew up)

Once upon a time this would have been a piece of chrome, not a bit of plastic. As I thought about this I realized chrome has been gone (for the most part) for a long time. Everything molded plastic, the same color as the vehicle. Is there ANY chrome on cars/trucks these days? Our Ford Fairlane and our Chevy Impala had so much chrome on it you could hardly look at it on a bright summer day. Americans loved their shiny automobiles.

Thinking back on the countless photos and videos of Land Rovers I’ve looked at in recent months, I don’t recall seeing any chrome. Which makes sense. Why put chrome on a farm vehicle?

Going topless

When my truck arrives it will have a hardtop. But I haven’t given up my dream of going topless in the warmer months. Lots of advice on this topic in the forum I’ve started haunting. This young man lives in Scotland:

“Unfortunately, living in Scotland, it’s rarely dry enough or warm enough to take the top off. I would love to get a soft top for my truck. The hardtop doesn’t really make it a great deal warmer or less draughty than the canvas. In the winter, even with the hardtop on it is bone chillingly cold. In the summer, with the hardtop on, it is like sitting in in oven. I reckon with the canvas, the summer would be much more comfortable, with the easy option of rolling the sides up and the winter would be just as equally horrendous. The funny thing is, even with the hardship and discomfort, driving the land rover in any season is always a joy and a choice.”

Yes! I hear that over and over. He shared a few photos of his Land Rover. I suppose there are perfectly restored Land Rovers sitting in climate controlled garages but I just haven’t come across those. Most owners seem to drive them, and drive them hard. I love the scruffy look of this truck.

55 mph

If you drive 70 mph on one of our nation’s interstate highways you will see plenty of cars zipping past you. If you drive 60 mph you might feel like you’re standing still. I’ve been experimenting with driving slower in preparation for switching from my MINI Cooper (which rides nicely at 100 mph) to a restored Land Rover truck which has a top-end of 50 mph. Or 55 mph, depending on who you ask.

The National Maximum Speed Law prohibited speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour. It was drafted in response to oil price spikes and supply disruptions during the 1973 oil crisis. The law was widely disregarded by motorists and it was modified in 1987 and 1988 to allow up to 65 mph limits on certain limited access, rural roads. Congress repealed the law in 1995, fully returning speed limit setting authority to the states.

I set my cruise control on 60 last week and cringed a bit watching approaching cars in my rear-view mirror. At 55 I might turn on my flashers. I’ll make some short runs on the highway but no long trips. Fun for around town but no good for getting somewhere in a hurry. And everybody is in a hurry. I didn’t really see that until I stopped.

Swapping my MINI for the Land Rover will be an adjustment. But I’m at the adjustments point of life so that’s okay. I’ve been hanging out on some Land Rover forums and old hands there tell me driving one of these old trucks demands a level of awareness. Braking, turning, simply starting the truck… Everything demands more thought. Mare attention. I find this appealing. (Ask me again in six months)

Door panels? No door panels?

I feel like a bride-to-be, picking out curtain material. Work has started on the interior of my truck. That has to be a good sign. Mr. Wolf and I both think no door panels looks sexier but the restoration guys are worried about knees getting banged by the hinge. When complete the truck will be a big old aluminum can and noisy as hell, with or without panels. I keep saying I don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl as long as it’s healthy.