Why travel with a Landy?
The burning question and one we get asked all the time, especially around camp fires from others who have dared to ship their beloved vehicles to another continent with hopes of a simpler (got to be joking) and more fulfilling periods of their life (almost guaranteed). After all, this British iconic marque is often regarded as slow, unreliable, dusty, and wavering between being too hot and then too cold. You dread the onset of rain, knowing there could be chance that it’ll become wetter inside than out. All of these sum up our previous experiences of taking a Land Rover overland. And yet so many people are choosing the iconic British brand (including us) to take on goliath expeditions. What draws over landers to this vehicle?
There is something about a Landy that you fall in love with. The problems it has become quirks - that drip which always lands on your foot in heavy rain is a joyous thing in a hot country; the oil dripping from the gearbox lets you know you have oil still in there; you know what every little rattle and clunk is. You treat it with great care and affection.
The Land Rover is all about learning and/or developing new skills and testing its capabilities as you tackle challenging terrain on climbs, descents and mud. It’s an experience itself, let alone the adventure you’re going on.
World-wide clubs bring a camaraderie to driving one. A sense of pride to be an owner of this distinctive marque. Other Land Rover owners will drive for hours to come and help you if you need it. The green oval pulls all owners together. When we are on the road, we always make an effort to meet with local Land Rover groups - be it because we need help finding parts, or just for the sake of meeting new friends, sharing stories over a BBQ. The kindness and warmth we felt from these clubs is truly astonishing considering they are people we have never met and the only connection is Land Rover.
When we have stayed on overlanding camp spots, it will always attract fellow travellers and spark a conversation. It's so much more of a friendly vehicle to approach than a Unimog or an RV in our opinion. Everybody is always eager to find out what has been done to make this one unique and of course hear your stories of things going wrong.
A Landy is very rarely stock. Each are unique to their owners. Modifications may be minor or there could be full on rebuild. I have seen some that, to me, make no sense, but the owner is over the moon with it. Similarly, people have questioned things I have changed on mine. But over a beer, owners understand why you have done what you have.
Over this winter Linz and I have both been driving some pretty luxurious cars for work (think Maserattis, Lexus, AMG Mercs), but we both can't wait to get back into Kermit. Our Land Rover, Kermit, to us is our key to freedom, to adventure and exploring off the beaten track destinations that other vehicles can’t muster the strength to get to.
They go anywhere - they really can tackle most terrain without skipping a beat. We have stayed on some of the most remote beaches in Costa Rica, hump back whales jumping in the ocean, jungle back-drop and crystal waters meters away, with not another soul in sight. We have camped on Mayan ruins surrounded by a sugar cane plantation with the not so distant rumble of a volcano. We have driven through jungle, desert, and done thousands of miles off road, with people declaring “how have you done that” when we arrive. This is the reason Land Rovers are the first car the majority of the world has seen. This is why Land Rovers feature in some seriously epic photographs from around the world. This is the reason why so many experienced overlanders choose this vehicle.
It is a hell of a versatile machine - it been used by everyone from the Medical Corps to the SAS. If expeditioners wanted to explore or adventurous wanted to conquer terrain that was unconquerable, they chose the Landy. It's the first production vehicle to travel 18,000 miles from England to Singapore. The first to cross the Bering Strait. It was the machine of choice for Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes on his epic transglobal expedition. It has been in production for 67 years. At one point, the first car seen by 60% of the developing world was…a Land Rover. The underdog vehicle, has been a phenomenon in automotive history. Could this possibly be the greatest car ever made?!
In practical terms, when something does go wrong they are super easy to fix. The simplicity of the LR build means a fairly standard and small toolbox will be adequate enough to fix most problems that occur on the road. Before we ventured out on our first adventure in a Landy I had not even serviced a car. By the end of Overland Central America I had changed and rebuilt a gearbox and an engine amongst other things. Pre TD5 models have minimal electrics and sensors to fail as a result of altitude, temperatures or wear and tear.
The amount of companies which are now producing adventure equipment for these vehicles is staggering. It makes it possible to customise your Landy to cope with overnight local camping trips, to taking it around the world. Quality manufacturers such as Bearmach can supply you with most of the products you need to kit your overland truck out and import to many countries around around the world, making finding quality parts a doddle when abroad. We will write another post in the future on what to consider when fitting out a truck.
The comfortable (slow) speed at which they cruise means you get a greater time to see the places you are visiting. There is no rush in a Landy. Just sit back and enjoy.
Why did we choose Landy?
For us there was no other choice initially. The appeal of the go anywhere camper within our budget was the main pull. We could have chosen a 4x4 Mercedes Sprinter or a Volkswagen Transporter, and both would have given us more living space, but would have limited us to the places we wanted to go. Central and South America can throw up some seriously gnarly roads. I will always remember our drive to Semuc Champney in Guatemala. It took us 10 hours to drive 100km (60 miles ish). The road was really technical with big drops on one side, muddy, rocky and steep. Without a Landy there is not a chance we would of made it. As a matter of fact, nobody did make it. We were the only vehicle that got there. Even the owners of the hostel were surprised.
The choice of a 110 Defender gave us enough space in the rear for our gear and endless opportunities for sleeping, cooking and living arrangements. With some clever storage solutions you can have a fairly comfortable living space in a 110.
The choice of a 300TDi was also an easy choice. The last and most developed block before all the electrical gubbins of the TD5. Whenever we have met a TD5 on the road, they nearly always have sensor issues caused by dust, mud, altitude or simply just the high mileage, which is covered whilst over landing.
Land Rover to me symbolises expedition and adventure, and the Defender optimises it. It’s friendly face enables you to meet lots of people on your travels, to share your stories, and of course lets you venture deeper into the unpaved world.