Moving spare from bonnet to rear of truck

Nothing says “Land Rover” like the spare tire mounted on the bonnet. It’s iconic. And I was fine with keeping mine there until I discovered how difficult it was to open up the engine compartment. Something I plan to do almost daily. It was damned heavy. I did it but will I be able to in five years? Or ten?

The truck is back in San Diego where the guys at Lucra Cars are taking care of a few things they missed during the restoration, so I’m having them move the spare to a swing-out arm on the rear of the truck.

Removing the mounting bracket from the bonnet (what we call the hood) left about 20 holes. A small patch would look like a, well, a patch. So they’re fabricating a piece of aluminum that will cover most of the bonnet. (the green tape)

This will horrify Land Rover purists (sometimes known as “rivet counters”) but I’m going to be happier with the spare on the rear of the truck.

Land Rover headed back to San Diego

The ride up to Mr. Wolf’s shop in the Bay Area was on open transport truck. Only thing available on short notice. Last night he sent it back to Lucra Cars in an enclosed truck.

Looks like it had some pricey company. Perhaps one of you car guys can ID these high-end rides.

No idea when I’ll finally get behind the wheel but if I had to guess I’d say December. Gonna call it a Christmas present.

One car too many

From the day I decided to buy a vintage Land Rover the plan was to make it my everyday vehicle. I’d sell the MINI almost immediately. Friends and concerned strangers urged me to hang on to the MINI, if only for a few months, to make sure I could make do with a 40 year old truck. So I rented one of those U-Store-It places to keep the MINI, even though I’m not entirely comfortable with having two vehicles. The Land Rover is still a month away. Maybe six weeks.

In the meantime, the MINI’s value as a back-up ride has… diminished. Might have a crack in the head gasket which is an expensive repair. $1,500, maybe two grand?

I paid $24,000 for the MINI in the fall of 2011. The Blue Book value is around $5,000, perhaps a bit more. But that’s WITHOUT a serious engine problem. Do I invest $2K to fix the car in order to sell it for $5K? If I’m doing the math correctly, the car is only worth $3K at the moment.

I’m almost completely ignorant in these matters because I’ve always driven cars (Toyotas) for 300,000 miles or more. Then I’d buy a new one. Zero experience with used cars. And more importantly, I refuse to fuck with buying/selling used cars.

So I’ll keep the MINI until the Land Rover arrives but keeping it in storage no longer makes sense. I haven’t figured out what to do with it but I will. The local high school has a career center with an automotive program that accepts donated vehicles for the student to work on (for practice or to fix and sell). I might donate the MINI.

What I’d like to find is a “concierge seller.” Someone that finds a buyer and takes a commission.

I was a little surprised at how quickly the MINI lost value. And how difficult and expensive it was to maintain. And, yes, driving a 40 year old truck will have a new set of surprises.

Houston, we have a problem

The Northern California Land Rover Club held a rally in Hollister, California this weekend and Mr. Wolf took The Truck down to show off and test drive. He discovered some “issues” that have to be addressed and will almost certainly delay the delivery date. But that’s why we went with Mr. Wolf in the first place. Here are some photos from the rally:

For my money, nothing captures the Land Rover mystique like this 1951 Series (1) truck. I think he said these guys drove it down from the Bay Area (with the windscreen down!)

Serious off-roaders love to make their trucks go where they shouldn’t be able to go. Mr. Wolf called these “tank traps.”

So The Great Land Rover Project has hit a bump but — as you can see — Land Rovers love bumps.

Jim and Neil: Rover Bros

I “met” Jim Potter and Neil Sommers on a Land Rover forum and they’ve been answering my newbie questions ever since. Yesterday I drove over to Kansas City to meet them (and their Land Rovers).

That’s Neil’s 1963 Series IIA and the photo below is Jim’s 1968 IIA.

I’m in love with the soft top on this truck and plan to order one for next spring. Jim will be switching back to his hardtop soon which he keeps suspended from the roof of his garage.

The highlights of the trip for me were the drive from KC down to Neil’s farm in Jim’s truck. Bumpy, loud, slow… wonderful! After meeting Neil, we jumped in his truck and drove around in one of his pastures. He let me drive for a bit and it was a blast. My first time to drive a Land Rover (right hand steering!).

Neil has one of the most amazing shops I’ve ever seen. Okay, I haven’t seen that many shops but this thing was packed with every imaginable tool and some big-ass metal lathes. (I think).

Update from Neil: “The freshly painted blue machine tool is a Steptoe 16 inch metal shaper. It is painted Land Rover Marine Blue. The metal lathe is a Monarch 10EE and the big drill press looking tool is a Bridgeport milling machine.”

Behind the shop Neil had the axles from one of his Land Rovers on sawhorses (he’s doing some more restoration (that’s the chassis above). After explaining how the differential gears worked and how I would need to check the fluid levels periodically, he presented me with a custom tool for taking out the plug. Uh, yeah, maybe.

Jim and Neil are passionate about old Land Rovers and they could not have been more gracious and hospitable. I was pumped about getting my truck but now that I’ve actually driven one… (high pitched squeal!)

Mr. Wolf has The Truck

The transport truck taking the Land Rover from San Diego to San Mateo couldn’t get to Mr. Wolf’s garage because the traffic was so horrendous. (I didn’t ask Mr. Wolf to clarify that) Since he was headed south for the weekend anyway, he met the transport truck on the way and transferred the Land Rover to his trailer. Now it’s off to the weekend rally. Photos to follow. We’re now in the final phase of The Great Land Rover Project. Next milestone will be my trip on the 20th.

Next stop: San Francisco

The restoration is complete and The Truck is on it’s way to the Bay Area, scheduled to arrive at 10 a.m. tomorrow. Mr. Wolf says he’s going to drive it a bit and then put it on a trailer and take it the annual get-together of the Northern California Land Rover Club. He promises some good photos.

For the next several weeks he’ll be driving the truck, looking for anything missed during the restoration and making a few modifications and additions (fire extinguisher, different rear seats, etc. The final truck ride to Missouri will be in an enclosed truck. I confess this picture makes me a little nervous.

Land Rover: Interior

When it rolled off the assembly line in 1979, I think there were three seats in the cab (and they weren’t comfy bucket seats like these). The middle seat has been replaced with a storage compartment.

The floor of the tub (rear part of the truck) is covered with a rubber-like material. When it gets muddy, hose it out. I’m not fond of the rear seats and will replace those with simple pads (no back).

The longer, black lever with the white tip is the parking brake. The yellow knob engages four wheel drive when you push it down. And the red shifter engages the Low Ratio gear. Also known to some as “momma low.” The black box with hoses coming out the sides is the heater. Three settings: to the windscreen; to the floor; or to both.

If that steering wheel looks bigger than what you’re used to, it is. No power steering on this baby so you need that big wheel.

Land Rover: Engine

Here are a few shots of the engine. No, I cannot name all of the parts –let alone work on them– but one of my goals is to be able to identify each part and understand what it does.

As for that “Overseas Land Rover Owners Club,” no idea. If I had to guess it was on the truck before restoration and the guys just put it back on.