August, 2010: That Series, (serious), Nagging Attraction
Well, we couldn't let a summer go by without bringing home something of interest.
My wife Donna and I made a trip to the Ottawa area to take a look at a 1967 Series 2a 5-Door 109 Station Wagon. A few weeks earlier, I had emailed and called in response to a Kijiji ad for the truck. It wasn't that we needed another project, or another parts truck sitting outside of one of our shops; but there is this attraction. A nagging attraction... It nags you while you're working. It nags you when you wake up. You just keep thinking, "Hmmm, wonder if it would make a good project? Maybe it has some good parts for our other projects. What's one more truck?" My initial interest in this truck was the potential for some parts for Sandman, our '67 "NADA", (Land Rover's "North American Dollar Area" marketing attempt at winning back customers that complained of a lack of power from the 2.25 liter 4 cylinder engine by installing a 2.6 liter 6 cylinder engine). Sandman's 6 cylinder engine is presently undergoing a full re-build, and we could use some parts. From the photos in the ad, I could tell that the "breakfast", (front grill), looked as though it had been moved forward. Through a few more emails, it was confirmed that the original 6 cylinder engine had been replaced with a Chevy straight 6. Well, there wouldn't be any engine parts that we could use. There went my excuse for needing the truck. But I kept telling myself, "It is one of the rarer of the Series Land Rovers". "It's a NADA"... . And the nagging attraction continues...
So I convinced myself, and my two brothers, and my wife, that we should at least just take a look at the truck; purely for the sake of looking. Maybe do a little write-up on the truck's history, splash a few photos around on our web site. But just... look at it.
Donna and I were spending a weekend on our sailboat, (which happens to be roughly half-way to Ottawa from our home in Cambridge); and it was a rainy Sunday morning. Sailing in the rain? Well, you need to be an avid sailor to really enjoy sailing in the rain. We may be avid "beginner" sailors, but we are both still attached to that romantic view of sailing on a sun-drenched lake with a balmy breeze bringing us to our next destination; and of course, sunset cruises. A rainy day made for the perfect excuse to make the road trip further north-east to Ottawa... "just to look at the truck".
We met with a few of the family members of the previous owner and spent a number of hours enjoying the family's stories of trips into the bush in their father's Land Rover, and how he maintained and kept the truck running over the years. Originally, their father had an older 88" Series Land Rover, but the need for additional seating prompted the purchase of the '67 109" 5-Door Station Wagon in 1973. At that time, it was 6 years old, and the engine, (already having been swapped for the Chevy straight 6 by the previous owners), was suffering from over-heating problems. Their father, being the ultimate handyman, neighbourhood Mr. Fix-it, custom made a radiator cowl to better direct the flow of air through the radiator. Problem solved, and with the extra room, more family trips to their bush property outside of town. As the years went on, the truck ended up behind the garage, parked in the grass, never to be sold; even when the original owners offered to buy the truck back. It was their father's truck, and remained that way for nearly 40 years.
I inspected the truck for the typical issues, finding that the years it had spent parked in the grass had caused the frame and under-carriage to be seriously rotted away. The gas tank was seeping the sweet smell of old deteriorated gasoline, the bulkhead and door frames were rusted through; but on the positive side, the body panels, windows and interior were in relatively good condition. Definitely a parts truck candidate... and that's what I convinced myself that it would be. But during the week before going back to Ottawa to pick up the "parts truck", I started thinking of the history, the family's stories, and their father's dedication to keeping his truck for many years.
And so it started again... the nagging.
Yes, we have another restoration project truck; a 1967 Series 2a 5-Door NADA Station Wagon.