Thursday, June 23, 2016

Brexit special!

Out in the fertile hooptie grounds of Red Hook I found this hardy immigrant looking for a fight:
This is a 1971-1985 Land Rover Series III in the very faded color Blaze. This is as stalwart and British as a vehicle can be though diametrically opposed to Rolls Royce in use and appearance. I would hazard a guess that any English country home that had a Rolls Royce in the drive also had one of these lurking somewhere.
This thing is built for imperialist expansion. Flatten the wild jungles before you with ease! Cross vast deserts and ford piranha filled rivers on your way to victory! 
The Land Rover was introduced in 1949 modeled after the Jeep. Originally the headlights were tucked in with the grill between the fenders but this changed in 1968 to comply with the laws of several of the countries where it was sold.
You can go ahead and place your spare tire right here.
You can see from the slight overhang on the left front edge of this hood that it's not a perfect fit. This may in fact come from an earlier model with the headlights between the fenders. In fact the only colors available on the very first late '40s-mid '50s were various shades of green. Maybe this is an original hood for the first series? Who knows?
You know everything you need to know about this truck the moment you look at it. It screams UTILITY; flat (for the most part) body panels, big wheels and tires, and a high ground clearance. Like the Jeep the roof and doors are removable and the windshield folds flat onto the hood.
Power was most likely derived from an inline 4 cylinder gas engine. They had 6 and even 8 cylinder gas and diesel versions but they were vastly outnumbered by the tried and true 4.
I love the looks of these things. To me it's much like a smaller International Scout. There is a huge difference though besides scale; the body panels are made up of aluminum alloy so corrosion isn't an issue. That's AL-YOO-MINNY-UM to you Yanks.
*That is NOT a massive assault rifle in the window though it looks like one in this pic.
So many mysteries on this vehicle. For instance, what are those two rectangular plates riveted above the wheel well? I imagine there's some ultra heavy duty side guard that could have been fitted by the factory but I can't be sure. The gas cap looks like it belongs on a tank.
Who needs a rear bumper when your arse is this burly? Everything is as basic as can be; the door hinges and locking mechanism look like simple diagrams.
I like how somebody welded a solid steel plate to the frame below the door as if to say "this is all the cosmetic treatment you get Land Rover".
Like most (if not all) British vehicle manufacturers the Land Rover company has a long and incestuous ownership history. It began as the off-road division of Rover before being combined with Triumph and subsequently absorbed into the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). In the late '80s it was owned by British Aerospace. BMW acquired it in 1994. Ford purchased it in 2000. In 2008 Ford sold Land Rover along with Jaguar to Tata Motors of India, making it an extremely late in coming spoil of their 1947 independence from Britain. The British automotive family tree looks like a twisted vine overlapping several times.
Our best indicator that this is a Series III is the plastic dashboard which was painted metal earlier. Another indication is that the gauges are in front of the driver when they used to be centrally located. Having your gauges in the center is an elegant solution for a vehicle that has been exported to the furthest corners of the earth since its inception; move the steering wheel and pedals to whichever side the country of origin dictates and everything else is universal.
I was certain that these seats were replacements but they are in fact Series III stock. The same design carried on into the Defender which succeeded it.
The mirror placement is great on this truck. Those two flaps under the windshield are just what they look like; ventilation. The rear half of the door glass slides forward which enough enough to pay a toll but those flaps would probably save your bacon on a hot day.
This is the quintessential accidental success. Rover only meant to build these for a couple of years for a quick influx of cash after the ruination of WWII. Because of this every step of the manufacturing process was designed for cheap and simple production from the flat body panels to the simple ladder frame it sits on. Right away it was outselling everything on the market so they rolled with it. Who knew it would once spin off into one of the most venerable and iconic brands of all time?

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