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O'KANE ON LAND ROVERS  By Dick O'Kane

 

On that great bright day when I manage to accumulate the time,

money and space all at once, I'm going to go out and buy a TC, a D-Jag,

an XK-120M (which I'm going to bolt a C head onto and call an 'XK-

120MC' so you can write righteous letters to the editor), a Mark IV (yes,

I know) which I'm Just going to look at and never drive, and a Land

Rover.

 

Now, I'm fully aware that I don't need any of that stuff, least of all

the Land Rover. But I'm going to drive the Land Rover. Simply because

Land Rovers turn me on.

 

I got into the Land Rover thing about ten years ago when trying to

sell business machines to Mom-and-Pop grocery stores in an economic

disaster area finally got to my soul and my bank balance simultaneous-

ly. So I wound up in a very small, very informal Land Rover agency as

a salesman, sometime mechanic, chief gopher and seat warmer.

The first thing you learn about a Land Rover is that it has a per-

sonality which is uniquely its own. To me, a Land Rover is a safe, warm,

comfortable place to be. When in a Land Rover you're safe from any

assault by man or nature. The Bomb could land right on top of it, but

somehow you're sure that it would only blister the paint a little. A

Land Rover is the wheeled embodiment of the spirit of one of the stur-

diest, most indomitable nations on earth. This is not just a heavy-duty

vehicle; this is John Bull's heavy-duty vehicle. And there's a difference.

There it is - Rule Britannia and Press On Regardless!

 

Okay, yes, I'm sure your 4wd vehicle is just as good, if not better.

But it can't have anywhere near the Land Rover's class. And when it

comes to tradition, well .... hang around Land Rovers long enough and

you'll wind up convinced that if Rover ever stopped making them, the

whole continent of Africa would sink like Atlantis into the sea. Anyway,

two days after I started, I was a confirmed Land Rover nut. Those

things are more fun to drive than anything this side of a Ferrari! They'll

go over, under or through anything, the visibility's marvelous, and you

have to be really creative to make one break. And for sheer startle value,

a Land Rover just can't be beat.

 

When you took a customer out for a demonstration ride, you'd get

him (or often, her) firmly strapped in and take off down the street, which

was separated from an expressway by a rather steep grassy embankment

about 10 feet wide., and during the winter this strip always had snow

piled up on it about three feet deep. You'd get up to about 20, say very

casually, 'Hey, why don't we take the expressway - it's quicker/ and

suddenly swerve right. As you swerved, you banged it into 4-wheel drive

and 'whumph!' Into the snow, churn up the embankment, pull out into

the disbelieving traffic and go, hood and fenders festooned with hunks

of snow, customer still softly going 'gah ... gah ...' to himself. Then down

to the river where you'd demonstrate the thing's ability to climb sheer

cliffs, charge through the woods, wade through hub-deep sand and ge-

nerally do unreasonable things without a whimper. Then you'd let the

customer play for awhile, and it was your turn to hang grimly on while

he tried to destroy the car, the object being to let him get so intrigued

that he could be relieved of his sack of coin. And oddly, there was only

one instance of customer-caused damage to our demonstrator. And not

in the bush either. This happened in downtown traffic. You remember

Land Rover's claim that the thing's built to withstand the full charge

of a bull rhinoceros? Yeah, well, they'll even do better than that.

On this particular day, my prospect was one of those marvelous old

ladies New England's so full of. There's a whole class of them; great,

huge, jolly people with master's degrees and sometimes doctorates -

always from Smith - and they're really into living. They do things like

sail star boats single-handed, dig bushels of clams for dinner, march in

demonstrations, lecture at the library and talk a fascinating blue streak

while they get genteelly swacked on sherry. This one was the archetype

of the species, and she was having a ball with the Land Rover, giggling

and cooing as she howled through a trafficky, one-way circle in a beau-

tifully-controlled drift. Then, ohmigod, here came a great Mother Buick

the wrong way, and with a cataclysmic bang the two cars married fair-

ly, front to front.

 

We fared a tot better than the guy in the Buick simply because we

were harnessed firmly to the seats and he wasn't. He banged his head

smartly on the windshield, sustaining Slight Injury, which rated us all

an ambulance, a fire engine, all the policemen in the world and enough

spectators to stop traffic completely.

 

Then there followed the required Great Flap about Who Was At Fault

wherein Brunhilde stood like a pillar of New Hampshire granite and told

all and sundry concisely, precisely and politely that she was in the right

and they could all go to hell, and finally, like the mules that drag de-

ceased bulls from the corrida, the wreckers came.

 

Just for the hell of it, I got into the Land Rover and started it. It

idled quietly, with none of sounds like the fan makes when it's stuck

into the radiator, so I put it into reverse and tried backing out from wi1

in the Buick. It went backwards, alright, but the Buick wanted to come

too, so I got a wrecker to sort of stand on the other car's tail and tried

again. This time the Buick fell off onto the road, and I got out to inspect

the damage. The Buick seemed utterly destroyed, hood buckled double,

front wheels splayed out and the engine off its mounts, bathed in anti-

freeze.

 

The front bumper on the Land Rover was scratched, one fender had

a dent in it and there.was a broken headlight. That's all.

Brunhilde stood and stared in delighted disbelief, and I said, 'Well, I

guess that proves the factory's claim that a Land Rover can withstand

the full charge of a bull rhinoceros.'

'Yes,' she answered, 'and also the charge of the cow Buick.'

While that scene had its memorability, the funniest, (though somewhat

dangerous) bit of goofery I ever saw pulled with a Land Rover was on the

day the Dude refused to sell us parts.

 

The Dude was another common type - short, skinny, big handlebar

mustache, tweed cap and bright red vest. They sell used cars. Our Dude

was only a bit different .in that he owned a big foreign car place, and

we'd go up there to get pieces to fix whatever wheezed into our shop.

But one day when I rode up with the boss to get some needed bits, we

found that the Dude had arbitrarily decided that our place was taking

business from his and he wouldn't give us the parts at discount. It was

full counter price or nothing.

 

I'll spare you the shrill 15 minutes that followed. Just suffice it to

say that we got back into the Land Rover partless and the boss was so

mad he couldn't talk. So after sitting for a moment while he gained

enough composure to drive, we headed back out the drive of the Dude's

place, and who should be sitting there at the end waiting for traffic to

clear, but the Dude himself, encased in a new Alfa. We pulled up behind

him.

 

Four lanes of fast traffic was swarming by and the Dude was watching

intently for a hole so he could pull out. We waited. And he waited. And

suddenly, the boss reached down and pulled the Land Rover into low

range 4wd. I looked over at him. Grinning a fiendish grin, he inched

ahead and gently contacted the Dude's rear bumper. The Alfa began to

move. The Dude locked the brakes. The Land Rover's engine changed

pitch, built to a scream, and with four Pirellis and one Dude shrieking

in protest, the Alfa was shoved slowly and majestically out into the

middle of the street.

 

We left him there, the center and cause of an epic traffic Jam, and

drove away.

 

Yes, one day I'm going to get one, and it's going to have all the op-

tions and attachments I want, too; snow thrower, winch, mower, hy-

draulic mousetrap, clam digger, twin machine guns, bird call, heavy-duty

traffic ram .... and an air horn that plays 'Rule Britannia!'

 

 

Here is one tale from the snow, I'm sure there must be many others.

 

A WINTER'S TALE (and no gritting wagons)

 

I was approached by a pal (now ex - pal) enquiring if I could move

him a bit of furniture. In an unguarded moment (thinking this was just

the usual job of moving the goods into the next street until the Bailiffs

had been to look) I said OK.

 

Much to my surprise we finished up in Westmoreland (the. Bailiffs

must be getting very astute), the morning was fair, the Police and AA

were advising everyone to stay put, the gritters were on strike but as an

old Pennine hand I grinned sympathetically. We arrived at our destina-

tion, the sticks were unloaded and the snow began to come down in a

lovely Christmas card pattern upon which we decided to look round the

village sledge runs to 'mug' a sledge off one of the local boys, unfortunat

-ely they were all much too hefty.

 

After a hot meal of mustard sandwiches we noticed the snow was

about 6 inches thick, and as the 4w drive was at home tucked up in the

garage, we decided to head the Transit back for Yorkshire.

We came unstuck on the first 1 in 8 out of town, reversed direction

and Harry Haigh, the navigator, was instructed to route us out on a road

with no 'up' gradients. (No easy task in the Lake District!) An artic has

jack-knifed on the hill in front and we are held up for half of an hour, I

drowse - there is a sharp slap on the top of the vehicle, I engage first and

open one eye, I am about to run over the car in front - mistaken signal -

just my navigator reporting back on conditions up front.

 

The plough/gritter wagons are rolling but appear to be on 'Safari' ie,no ploughing or gritting. We approach the last lap and climb the 'Pass of Denhoime' but fail to reach the top due to the road camber. Shovels out and a friendly soul pulls in with his warning flashers engaged, but in spits of this a gentleman arrives in top gear and top volume speech regarding 'weekend' drivers. I gun the engine, the vehicle slews round and Mr. Mon Carlo escapes by a 'thou' as I hit the kerb. He probably never knew how near he was to making history in taking off over the edge of Denholme Pass!

The last lap and the final indignity as we have to resort to a shovel ful or two of ashes. I call to my navigator, busy spreading, 'Scrape up the ashes after I've passed, it looks as though we may need them tomorrow!' New Year's Resolution. No more furniture removals!

C.H.

 

And now we have the script of an Ernie Wise play, sorry it's actually Dicky Day's Tunshill report.

 

TUNSHILL

 

Tunshill really, started at Friday dinner time, when Colin Salford

and myself got stuck in the lane leading to Tunshill Farm. The farm had

been snowed in for 2 days and it was quite a struggle just getting to the

motorway bridge. The track from the farm to the trials field also contained

a bit of snow and after another 2 hours hard graft it seemed as if the can-

cellation of Tunshill trial was a distinct possibility.

 

My phone bill rose sharply on Friday night organising bodies and sho-

vels (look closely at Busby on his next advert, he'll be wearing a mink coat).

In the end, the word having been spread, no digging - no trial, by Saturday

morning an Army of power packed shovel wielders had assembled, I can't

tell a lie in print, it wasn't the phone I used, it was string stretched between

two tin cans, over here in Lancashire we've progressed from Bongo drums.

The trial was held by courtesy of this army of snowdrift shifters and they're

going to be listed, every one of them:

 

Jack and John Lye, Mike King, Steve and Sue Parker, Dave Riley, Derek

Pilling, Jeremy Barker, Bill Dennis, Stuart Brown, Jim Burgess, Michael

Challoner, Dave Freear, Derek Jefferson and family. (You've now got the

Wanted List of the most powerful arm of the Mafia in Britain .......... The

Rochdale Branch!    B.H.)

 

No apologies for this list, every one of them worked hard (I'm still a

bit bewildered as to how Mike King ended up with a kid's bucket and

spade) and it was only because of them that an event was held.

To say the snow caused problems was an understatement, with the

land having an overall slope the sections couldn't be erected on the lower

slopes because you couldn't get back up the field. Overnight changes in the weather meant that snow crusts that would hold the weight of a motor on Saturday collapsed on Sunday. Where there was traction and an ability to turn changed overnight and quite a few sticks were broken. The ground was that hard that a crow bar and sledge hammer had to make a pilot hole

through 18" of solid earth before a stick could even be thought of. The

wind, freezing ice on sticks as you erected them, watching a layer of ice

form over the windscreen if you left your motor facing the wrong way,

just little things, the pleasure of having a dry hanky, downing a whisky

and orange at dinnertime, little things like that are memories of running

and making this trial.

 

So Sunday morning dawned, no more snow (or is it true that the

chap with a lot of dandruff has found out about Head 'n' Shoulders at

last) and with the road leading to the farm having been given a dose of

JCB and shovel, the show kicked off.

 

The caravan couldn't be towed up to the field, so scrutineering and

signing on took place at the bottom of the track and a fair amount of

trialling was done to get up to the field, giving the competitors a fore-

taste of what was to. come. Eight sections before dinner fooled a lot of

people, including the organisers. I could have sworn that we had driven

and erected 7, the damn things must have copulated during the night

'cos there were 8 in the morning all right. The only other solution is

'Exchange and Mart's mystery buyer who travels anywhere, he must

have spliced into our tin can cord and muscled in. As luck had it, the

drivers ignored instructions as usual and did all 8 before dinner.

Two pm was the after dinner start time and that's what time it

started. The 3 reversed sections were soon completed and the team re-

covery got under way. Eight pairs of drivers dug deep into moth holed

pockets and forked out hard earned brass to play Tug-of-war in the snow.

Two small iced-over hills provided the entertainment and the antics of

the drivers helped as well. The first team got off to a fair start, but en-

ded up slowly sliding their way downhill and both ended up stuck with

8 wheels going nowhere except round and round. The next pair (must

give these some pain) who were the Hon Editor BH2 and his distribu-

tor, 'Arry 'Aigh, managed to get in position and rope up. Then ina

twinkling of a 12 point score 'Arry got a 74 of the way up the hill and

BH2 got stuck in an axle twisting rut with the rope stretched taut bet-

ween them. They provided a vast amount of amusement for the crowd

(I laughed so much I thought my pants would never dry). The sight of

Harry with his shovel, wishing that BH2 had a rear acter, was funny,

their bionics let them down as well, poor old 'Arry, - correction, poor

old BH2, he's the one who's going bald. They were well and truly stuck

Part of the pleasure was purely sadistic, they've done it to me so many

times and it was my turn at last, I can die happy, one of life's ambi-

tions achieved, BH2 and 'Arry both bottled on a Team Recovery, oh

what joy!

 

However, back to reality, the weather turning colder, the wind slowly

rising and the darkness creeping in. With the first two teams retired with-

out even making the top of the first hill, grave doubts arose about the suit-

ability of the Team Recovery site. The third team set the standard with

36 feet of rope between the motors, magic, there was no stopping them

once they had been shown the way home. The unbeatable pair of Ted and

Carl proved to be the winners in a time of 5m 32secs. They said that they

were going to hold a 3 day auction when they get rid of them.

Everybody cleared the site quickly after the do and I thank all who

attended for heeding my cautionary words about driving about at Dinner-

time and going home, no complaints about any Pennine member, magic,

pure magic.

 

A tiring day (one whisky and I fell unconscious in front of the fire

at home - you should have seen the size of the whisky though) and a cold,

freezing one for the marshalls and one in which their JR Close trophy

points rose by leaps and bounds.

Dicky Day

 

PS. If you don't know who BH2 is. Bald-headed Brian Hartley ie. BH2

talking of which, just ask him how to sleep with your eyes open, he can

tell you!

DD

 

I honestly don't know why I stick this job, I sit here all day Sunday

wearing my 2 fingers to the knuckle just so some impertinent Rochdale

upstart can slag me. 1 didn't have to be Editor you know, 1 could have

been a Brain Surgeon!

BH2

 

 

WEAVERS 150

 

This little tale has been wending its way towards completion ever since October last year and has only now come to fruition.

1977 saw the introduction of The Weavers 100. An AWDC 100 mile corn

safari run during both night and day, October '78 was The Weavers 150,

same format only 50 miles longer. Eight Pennine entries trucked off down

the Ml to do battle with the AWDC. John Wright, Graham Cockell, Dave

Simmonite, Jonathan Oldfield, Brian Dibb, Russell Ridley, Raymond Sagar

and last and probably least myself.

 

For the first time ever the Pennine got a good write up in the All Wheel

Driver, mind you we deserved it! With a 5th of the entry to our credit we

took 1'st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th overall. 2 ist's in class and the fastest time of

the day, then we drove home! I have to admit it was a professional looking

team that turned up from the Pennine, and it made you proud to bear the

Team Pennine' stickers.

 

The extra mileage involved this year meant that the event started a

little earlier than last year, would you believe 2-00 am Sunday morning!!

You ought to 'cos it did! Blasting round a 12.6 mile Comp. Safari course

over every imaginable sort of terrain from corrugated sand trails through

dense forest, to a 1 mile straight stretch of deserted railway track, all

done at the dead of night, is an experience no keen off road racer should

miss!

 

Naturally tights are a great help in this kind of event, especially extra

ones, and it was this that had us all baffled by Jonathan Oldfield who

fitted tinted windows before the event. Tinted windows on a night event

caused a lot of comment, did he intend making Millington do the navi-

gating on a 'dead reckoning' basis. (With him navigating being dead is a

distinct possibility!) Brian Dibb had problems with his spotlights. They

fell off on the back of the wagon taking it to Weavers! (Such prepara-

tion!) Wrighties crew only got as far as Sheffield when they ended up in

a disco that got a bit out of hand, making the trip into Just on 24 hours,

Otiey to Weavers!

 

As most other competitors headed for an early bed on Saturday night,

Pennine headed for the pub in Liphook. By the time we returned it was

only two hours to the start time, so it was decided to cancel Saturday

night as a non-event, and catch up on sleep back at work on Monday!

The event attracted the usual crop of buggies, which expired at the

usual rate, especially at the hill that had Landies struggling in 2nd low

box. There was also a Cournil entered, which didn't fare very well due

to its U-Bolts coming loose, despite a steady drive from Chris Amery.

By the 4th run three of the Pennine entries were out. Brian Dibb

had had all sorts of problems from lights, and wheels falling off, to

wiring catching fire. Raymond Sagar had problems with a puncture and

a battery, whose internals had completely collapsed, giving very weird

symptoms of electrical problems. I can't for the life of me remember

what Russell's problems were, every time I saw him he had a grin from

ear to ear, the motor had steam and smoke issuing from every corner

and everything seemed as normal, he did have to retire though even-

tually.

 

Daylight dawned just after the 4th run or thereabouts with 8 still

to go and already there must have been 15 motors that had retired, of

the Pennine lads left all were going well and in the top 7 placings.

Jonathan's tinted windows came into their own as the sun came slan-

ting in low into your eyes at dawn. This of course was no handicap to

the navigators, they had their eyes closed all the time!

The whole course took on a different aspect In the daylight, but

strangely times didn't get any faster, one advantage of night racing is

that you only concentrate on the track lit by your lights, there are no

distractions and no looking ahead! Another trick you learn the hard way

at night is NEVER go fast through muddy water as it blacks the head-

lights out as effectively as a duff bulb and you either have to go round

semi-blind or stop and clean them!

 

One novel item during the night was the occasional appearance of

'blacked up' and camouflaged territorials, complete with real rifles and

parachute flares, that they fired over your heads at unlikely moments,

turning night into day. The sight of one of these apparitions leering

from behind a tree so unnerved my navigator 'Arry, that he turned his

helmet back to front for the rest of that run! The Clerk of the course

however assured us all that there were no penalties for hitting a private

and only 2 seconds penalty for an officer!

 

By the 6th run and halfway stage there were 22 entries left and

fatigue was beginning to set in. The leaders had at this point done 73

miles of racing and had been driving for around 3 hours, the slower

ones had been in the saddle for around 4 hours.

 

John Wright in his Rangey and myself in my Series 11 were in 1st

and 2nd place respectively and were to remain so to the finish, while

3rd and 4th places were being fought over by Dave Simmonite, Graham

Cockell, Jonathan Oldfield and a couple of buggies. Somewhere around

the 7th run Graham had to drop out when his steering arms sheared.

Dave Simmonite had his work cut out keeping his badly bent

steering in one piece for each run, and copious amounts of hammer

and welding torch were applied before he started his remaining runs.

Eventually the last run was upon us, the feeling of excitement and

pleasure at racing had long since gone and was replaced with a deter-

mination to finish this incredibly demanding event.

 

The four of us remaining made it to the finish line, 'cream crackered

being the state of the day! The finish results made it all worth while he

ever. To finish the twelve runs you had been driving for 5 hours exactly

plus your total penalty time on top of that, over a distance of 153 mile

exactly, to finish was an achievement to be proud of, to win even more

so, yet again Pennine Power was to prove more than a match for the

competitors.

 

A picture appeared in the All Wheel Driver of Dave Simmonite's

Series 11 with the caption 'Dave Simmonite at speed', nice picture,

but somehow the sight of John Lister's arm nonchalantly leant on the

open window discredited the title.

 

Thanks are due to the AWDC team of Keith Gott, Derek Pearson,

Dave Walker and Paul (never saw his lips move) Dollin for organising

a great event.

 

 
 
MSA and ARC club members are welcome to come along and join our events. Phone Mark on 07866 506521 / 01282 703718

 

 

Pennine Land Rover Club, Pennine LRC