Return of a Legend

The inspection

February 1, 2021
min read
Alec and Jan Forman
No items found.

This work was completed on Thursday, February 22, 2018

It’s true that every aspect of owning a Land Rover can be an adventure, and occasionally, a challenge for the owner. We certainly have experienced this with the now over forty-five years of owning our Series 3 – the same one that took us across the world in the late seventies, followed by many adventures with our family of six.

So it becomes a rather daunting experience to finally inspect and realise the effects of the many years our “sleeping” beauty has endured, while parked in our back garden.

However, you have to start somewhere and the first order of business was to capture and note down what can be salvaged, spruced up, or in need of total replacement.

Our Land Rover parked in the back garden — February 2018

Overall we can tell already that there is a lot of severe effects of so many years of neglect, the start of a any restoration endeavor, but let’s get stuck in to our findings as follows:

The exterior

Tyres and wheels
  • Deflated and dry rot
  • Wheels still in good condition with no visible cracking

Doors and windows
  • Algae growing in the seals, with many areas of rot
  • Significant corrosion in the steel door frames, including on the hinges
  • Glass in good nick with no cracks or scratches


  • Mainly coated in many layers of grime
  • Rear tub has cracks in the filler used after a minor collision on our 1977 trip
  • Paint in ok condition, but will need to repaint back to original colours from factory

Roof rack, side racks and san ladders

  • Galvanized really does work! Still in excellent condition
  • Used recently for holding some flower pots, but had carried our twelve jerry cans of fuel across the Sahara
“The roof rack that extended out over the bonnet of the vehicle carried the large wooden storage box custom-made by my dad in Brentwood, Essex. Two frames, carrying three empty petrol jerry cans in each, were slotted between either side of the box and the upright edge of the roof rack. A further six jerry cans stood side-by-side behind the wooden box. Metal sand ladders were also bolted along the outer sides of the rack.”

Excerpt from “Strangers Like Angels — With a Devil or Two to Boot.”

Roof box

  • Sadly, but unsurprisingly completely unsalvageable
  • Wood rotten and weathered

“We were up at six for a delicious, full English breakfast with the contractors before they started work in the cool of the early morning. When we collected the Land-Rover our jaws dropped as we discovered they had fitted brand new suspension — complete rear springs with shock absorbers on both sides. The still-serviceable parts that were removed we took along with us. Bearing in mind the country’s fuel crisis, they generously topped up the vehicle with free petrol too. Then, as an extra-special touch, we spied the words: WIMPEY, JOS — BAUCHI ROAD sign-painted in black on the side of Dad’s wooden box up on the roof rack. What a unique souvenir!”

Excerpt from “Strangers Like Angels — With a Devil or Two to Boot.”

Chassis and leaf springs

  • Typical rusting corrosion and spreading throughout undercarriage
  • Rear cross member completely corroded, from the inside out
  • A new galvanized chassis will need to be acquired
  • Leaf springs also corroded and severe sagging, will require full replacement
  • Ten gallon rear fuel tank unusable

Engine and gearbox

  • Engine no longer willing to start
  • Rubber components eroded
  • Extensive rust
  • Gearbox still in good order, but will likely need full cleaning and new seals

The Interior

The interior could be a lot worse, but there’s a distinct damp, musty and moldy smell throughout. Clear signs of water damage, rusted out trim, and disintegrating insulation.

Front cab and bulk head
  • Rust and corrosion throughout the metal work and trim
  • Bulkhead will need replacing
  • Ten gallon auxiliary tank under driver’s seat still in good nick

“An elevating roof was constructed and fitted, which allowed us to stand upright in the back between the kitchen cupboards on the left and the wooden bench-cum-bed on the right.”

Excerpt from “Strangers Like Angels — With a Devil or Two to Boot.”

Elevating roof
  • Built by Alec, following an existing design, the wood framing is completely rotten and separating from each other
  • Lining is peeling away from the non-existent adhesive
  • Foam insulation now of a dust consistency, crumbing away on touch
  • Rubber seals are no longer doing their intended purpose

Platform bed and carpeting
  • Folding bed platform in decent condition
  • Aged and dated carpeting damp and molding
“We bade our hosts goodnight and climbed into the Land-Rover. We were very tired and ready for our first night’s sleep in our new home. Lying snuggled close together in our thirty-nine-inch-wide bed, we soon drifted off.”

Excerpt from “Strangers Like Angels — With a Devil or Two to Boot.”

Kitchenette and cabinetry
  • Rusted our cooker top and sink area
  • Cabinetry show extensive signs of water damage
  • Water tank ok, but likely just best to replace

Chemical porta potty

  • Travel worn and in need of a good cleaning if we decide to keep as a feature in the restoration

The memories come flooding back when you complete such an activity as this, and after so many years passed with life’s other activities and responsibilities. Opening the heavy hinged back door, folding out the platform bed, opening the custom built roof top box (hand-crafted by Jan’s late father), or even finding a hidden dust layer of red sand from the Sahara — brings an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia of experiences past.

However, we must continue the course and press on in our restoration ambitions.

Alec and Jan Forman

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