I have been reading Motor Sport now for many years and must congratulate you on producing a first-rate publication for the true enthusiast.
One is saddened to hear so much criticism, justified or otherwise, levelled at the British motor industry, especially during these difficult times, so that I feel compelled to narrate some of my experiences on what must surely be the most versatile and remarkable vehicle, at its price, in the world today. I refer, of course, to the ubiquitous Land-Rover.
I have a SWB petrol Series III model which to date has remained 100% reliable after 10,000 miles. Although its appearance is spartan compared with normal saloons, it nevertheless is surprisingly comfortable on most surfaces, aided, I feel, by its tremendous rigidity and built-in strength, which imparts a feeling of confidence to its occupants, especially the driver. Long distances can be covered, admittedly at a leisurely rate, without fatigue, and it is rewarding to be able to actually see over walls and hedges from one’s lofty driving position!
I have pulled a fully-laden 14 ft. Ace caravan over Hardknott Pass and, as an exercise, stopped on one of the many hairpin bends which I thought offered the most severe gradient. Land-Rover handbrakes really work. Restarting was accomplished easily with no trace of clutch slip, merely selecting low transfer 1st and changing into 2nd and 3rd once the outfit was on the move. I should not like to repeat that journey. The room available for negotiating the sharp turns was negligible, and to attempt to reverse down, while already in a jack-knife position, for a second attempt would be virtually impossible, and present one with a nightmare situation. I would be interested to know of any other car (Range Rovers included) capable of pulling nearly a ton of caravan under these conditions. I have taken a similar caravan over the Applecross Pass, in Scotland, and on both these severe climbs I never once felt that the vehicle was even approaching its limit or being stressed in any way. One can therefore visit places and find isolated sites without first having to take into account beforehand the limitations of the towing vehicle.
I have, on occasion, flogged it over the most appalling moorland tracks in Yorkshire and invariably the only thing which prevented further progress was my nerve, which failed. Doubtless, if I had not become obsessed with the problems of possible recovery, I could have continued.
Petrol is consumed at around 17 m.p.g. but is a small price to pay when weighed against advantages such as longevity, alloy bodywork, low depreciation, etc., etc.
Development over many years has only improved what has always been a truly great British achievement, and the design has won respect and admiration throughout the world. It is to be hoped that BLMC recognise this fact.
Ulceby C. H. C Davis