History

MY STORY

In the Holt family, every great adventure started out in the Land Rover. I was three years old when my father lifted me into his new 1967 109" Series III he had ordered from England. I remember the complexity of the dash panel, and was dazzled by the coloured lights, military-scripted instrument gauges, and the silver toggle switches. It looked more like the cockpit of an airplane than a four-wheel drive vehicle - was my father capable enough to figure out how to work all these gadgets?

The Land Rover was a natural choice for my father. His best friend, Ronnie Martin, had just become the first person to circumnavigate the globe (6 continents) in a vehicle - his 1958 Land Rover Series II. He set off from Thompson, Manitoba, Canada, and you can see more about his amazing 57,000 mile trip here.

As a family, we spent every weekend out in the Rocky Mountains - hiking and camping in the summer, cross-country skiing and freezing in the winter. Bombing down the Trans-Canada highway with our golden retrievers Bow and Baron in the rear, my two sisters and I would celebrate with wild cheers each time the speedometer passed 55 miles per hour.

Inevitably, somewhere off a back country road, my father would bring the Land Rover to a full stop, and two things would happen simultaneously: my father would reach for the short, yellow-capped gearshift to put the vehicle into low gear, and my mother would open her door. "I'll just walk from here", she would announce.

With a perhaps "less-than-gentle" slam of my mother's door, we were in motion. Hill climbing was one of my father's favorite challenges, and in an era far before seat belts, it was a tough go to stay in the seats. My father would purposely steer toward random boulders, sending children and dogs into a tangled mess. Giggles were mixed with cuts and bruises, and we would arrive at our picnic site exhausted from laughter. Mom eventually came into view, huffing and puffing up the hill to join us.

It was a much different time then. We lived on the Elbow River in Calgary, and we would take an occasional evening picnic to Sandy Beach, about two miles up the river. Always one for "practicality", my father thought it was a much more direct route to avoid the roads and "just drive up the river", so that's what we did! The neighbors would shake their heads, "There goes that crazy Mr. Holt again"! I don't suggest doing that these days.

It was quite an entertaining event to wash the Land Rover of all the muddy boot prints, dog hair, and collected detritus. The seats were plasticized canvas (virtually the same fabric as Louis Vuitton bags are made of today) and the rubber floor mats were easily removed. Dad would park on a tilt, with the two passenger-side wheels up on the curb. He'd open all five doors, drag the garden hose over, and give it a damn good blast. All the water ran out the lower driver's side, and after an hour in the sun, the Land Rover was just like new (except for the foggy glass-covered instruments, which took a few days to recover).

My father fell ill in the mid 1980's and the Land Rover was sold. Though it didn't mean much to me then, some things come back to haunt you. For twenty-five years I've missed that vehicle. If you know where it might be I'd love to have it back (almost 70% of Land Rovers ever built are still on the road, so I know it is out there somewhere!).

Just over a year ago, I read a book written by my friend Bruce Sellery called "Moolala" (www.moolala.ca). It is a book about money, but not a "get rich quick" book. It is about personal relationships with money - how we use it, what our old habits are, etc. Throughout the book he continuously asks "What is your money for"? At the beginning of the book my answer was simple - "my money is for safety and security". By the end of the book my answer changed dramatically - "my money is for adventure".

That wraps up the story. In 2012 I decided to buy a Defender. I interviewed many different Land Rover re-builders in the United Kingdom, and then I found a family business that has been rebuilding Land Rovers since 1971. We put together the specifications for my Defender and my adventure was starting.

Six months later, I returned to the U.K. to test-drive my new Defender. I won't say anything more - just wait 'til you test-drive yours.

As we discussed the complex requirements of shipping the Land Rover to Canada, I learned that the cost of shipping two Defenders is not much more than shipping one, and my wheels starting turning. Adventure! I ordered a second Defender. Then my wheels turned some more. Am I really the only one out there who wants a rebuilt Defender? I ordered two more... Then twelve more... Adventure indeed!

THE LAND ROVER STORY

During WWI, Britain's Rover Company Limited worked heavily on the war effort, producing engines for aircraft and tanks. At the close of the war, and with the U.K. economy in ruins, the government forced Rover to generate a product for export. Maurice Wilks, automotive and aeronautical engineer for the Company, recognized the unique characteristics the American Willy's Jeep played in the war. Wilks owned a farm where he used his own surplus Willy's Jeep for practical farm uses. As his Jeep was nearing the end of it's life, Wilks realized there was no British alternative, and parts for the Willy's were very hard to get (something that he would never let happen to the Land Rover). This problem identified a gap in the market for a farm vehicle that was smaller than a tractor, but more versatile, more rugged and more manageable.

In 1946, Wilks imagined a British-made vehicle to replace his Jeep, and, using the Jeep chassis, he built a prototype. Proving successful at rough tasks, and in all terrain, it was quickly dubbed the "land rover". Interestingly, steel was in very short supply because of the war effort, but there was a glut of aircraft aluminium, so the decision to build panels from aluminium had nothing to do with rust prevention (which would become a major selling point for the vehicles) but with cost saving.

In 1947, the Land Rover prototype was launched, and 50 pre-production models were built for evaluation purposes. The world was introduced to the vehicle at the 1948 Amsterdam Motor Show. Nervous executives needn't have worried, as the world embraced it by storm, and order books quickly overflowed.

By 1951, Land Rovers were out-selling other Rover cars by two to one. The Rover Company didn't predict the vast range of users for such a multifunctional vehicle, as it was gobbled up by police forces, militaries, emergency services, contractors, expedition leaders, and utility companies.

A small criticism for these early vehicles was a lack of cargo space, so in 1954 the 80" wheelbase was extended to 86", and a "long wheelbase" 107" model was also introduced. In 1956, due to the demand for a diesel engine option, the wheelbases were extended again to 88" and 109".

1958 saw a big change. The Decision to launch a "Series II" line meant that any vehicle they produced before 1958, simply know previously as a "Land Rover", was retroactively renamed a "Series 1 Land Rover". In 1959, the 107" was extended to a 109" Series II Station Wagon, featuring new styling, and a larger petrol engine. It was built until 1961.

In 1962, with only a slight adjustment to the diesel engine, Land Rover renamed their vehicles Series IIA.

1967 saw Leyland merge with Land Rover, with Leyland becoming the majority shareholder. Leyland saw a market in a luxury Land Rover, and Range Rover was born in 1970.

Market research showed Land Rover owners were completely satisfied with their vehicles, so the physical change to Series III in 1971 is difficult to distinguish from earlier vehicles, except modifications to the headlights and grille, but a complete new gearbox (with syncromesh), new ratios, new clutch design, improved brakes, and a heavy duty rear axle were part of the redesign. The interior was substantially upgraded.

By 1976, the millionth Land Rover was sold, and by the mid 1980's, the Series III was replaced simply by the 110" (1983), the 90" (1984) and the 127" (1985).

In 1988, British Aerospace took control of the Rover Group.

In 1990, to prevent confusion with the recent launch of the Discovery, Land Rover re-branded these vehicles "Defender". A 200 TDi turbo diesel engine became an available option.

Soon after, in 1993, the 300TDi engine was introduced, and in 1994, BMW purchased British Aerospace's interest. In 1999 the fully-electronic TD5 was added to the mix.

1997 saw the Freelander introduced to compete with Honda CRV and Toyota RAV4, and in 2000 BMW sold it's share to the Ford Motor Company.

In 2008, Ford sold to the India-based Tata Corporation.

In October, 2013 Land Rover announced that, after 32 years of continuous production, the last Defender will roll off the assembly line in at the close of 2015. This will bring to an end the 67-year lineage of the world's most recognized vehicle.

open

What if I want one?

CLICK TO EXPAND.

Now that we've piqued your interest, please use the form below or call us directly to take the next step.

CONTACT US
1 403 399 0314