At a roundabout on my way back home, an elderly lady in the vehicle beside me rolled down the window and gave me a thumbs-up.
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It is very difficult to get a mechanic for old cars in London. The only option seemed to be to get the vehicle towed to the garage where I had got it serviced a month back. However, after a long search got hold of a person who was willing to come and check the vehicle. After the initial checkup, he said that the fuel pump seemed to be the culprit. Ordered a fuel pump and he will be back to fit it after a few days.
The car started, ran for a few minutes and died again. He could not get it started after trying for the next half an hour. The mechanic said he would come back at a later date as he had another appointment. The next day he cleaned the entire fuel line. Again the car started, stuttered for a few minutes and died. This kept on happening for a few days and we were not able to find the root cause of the issue.
When we were on the verge of giving up, the mechanic said that he wanted to take out the return valve and give it a last try. Voila, it worked. All this time the culprit was the fuel return valve! The car came to life and started running as if nothing had happened.
The hunt for another car
Though the car was fixed and it was running fine, I was not getting the confidence to take her out for greenlaning. Usually, the places were quite far and I was not willing to take the risk. During the next greenlaning event I took the Defender 90 and regretted the decision as the lanes were quite scratchy at a few places. After coming back I realised that I had to get a reliable car for these events as I did not want to damage the Defender. So the hunt began again.
I kept on looking at old Defenders and Series vehicles, but either I did not like what I saw or they were out of budget. Suddenly one morning I saw an Instagram post of a dealer in Ely, Cambridgeshire. I had been following them for quite some time and saw a post about a Series 3 109″. The price right within my budget. I called up the number posted and said that I would buy the vehicle that evening. The guy said that he could not guarantee that the vehicle would be there till evening.
The place was about 2.5 hours from my place and I would not be able to get there before evening. But I was desperate to get the car and asked if I could put down some money to secure it. He said I could pay £500, but I would not get the money back if I did not like the car cosmetically. If the car had any mechanical problem he would be happy to return the money. I agreed to it.
Meanwhile, I was checking their website and it said the site was not secure. I thought that it might be a scam and I told the person on the phone about what I felt. He said that it was very nice of me to be upfront and that he would ask the person taking care of the website to fix it. Meanwhile, he asked me to check on Trustpilot regarding their reviews and said that they were a legitimate business of more than 30 years. After doing some further checks, I was convinced and transferred the amount. The person called Kevin agreed to pick me up from the nearest station at 7 pm that evening.
The photos of the car posted in the advertisement –
I was getting impatient to go to Ely and get the vehicle but was not able to leave before 4 PM due to prior commitments. Finally at 4 PM got a taxi to King’s Cross station and boarded the train to Ely. When I got down at the station I was expecting to see Kevin waiting outside. But I could not find anyone and I called the number that I had on my phone. To my horror, no one picked up. I was getting a bit scared that I had lost my money as well as the time and effort to reach that place. In a few minutes, I got a call from a number that asked me if I had reached. I said yes and the person on the other side said that the Land Rover was parked just outside the station. He was surprised that I had missed it. I went back the way I came and saw the vehicle parked and felt like a fool to have missed it!
Parked outside the station
Kevin drove the vehicle back to his place which was just 10 minutes away. The car felt quite nice and there was no strange noise coming from anywhere. The vehicle would not win any beauty contest, it looked quite knackered from the outside, but the inside felt very good. It was looking mechanically sound. Kevin sounded very confident about the car and showed me around and even went underneath the vehicle to show me how good it was for a 40-year-old one.
Convinced, I paid the rest of the money, went online to pay the road tax and insurance and was ready for the long drive back. Just before driving back, I had one doubt, I was not able to see the fuel filler cap. Asked Kevin about it and he started laughing. He said that all ex-army Series Land Rovers have the fuel filler cap beneath the driver’s seat. So much to learn!
Ready for the long drive back to London
The drive back was really exciting. This was my first petrol 4WD and the smell of petrol after such a long time was intoxicating. Every Land Rover is unique and it takes time to get used to the vehicle. After about an hour or so I was feeling confident with steering, braking and the length of the car. Stopped for a fuel break in between. Another thing I learnt was that army vehicles had their speedometers marked in Kilometers per hour rather than in Miles per hour!
At a roundabout near our home, an elderly lady in the car beside me rolled down the window and gave me a thumbs-up. She shouted at the top of her voice that they once had a vehicle like this and it was lovely. She was extremely happy to see this one still on the road.
Siblings, Short Wheel Base and Long Wheel Base
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