And so it begins...

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18 May 2024
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Is Martin prepared for what lies beneath... : credit: © Martin Domoney
Martin makes a start on reviving his 1978 109in station wagon

As you may or may not have seen from previous Editor’s Welcomes, I have recently taken ownership of another Series III, also a 109in, but this time a five-door station wagon. Had I been on the lookout for another old Land Rover? Absolutely not (This is a lie, I’m always on the lookout for old Land Rovers), but this one sort of found me in a roundabout sort of way.

Front dumb iron not in the best of health

​​​​​​You see, late last year I had taken the Freelander 2 to my small workshop with the intention of giving it a bit of a birthday treat as it approached 200,000 miles – new hub bearings all-round, new discs and pads, fresh suspension arms, handbrake cables, calipers – and I wanted something cheap and reliable to nip around in while it was on the ramp getting whatever it needed to give me thousands more miles of happy motoring. So, I bought a cheap BMW 5-Series off a friend.

When the Freelander 2 was done and fighting fit again, which took considerably less time than would warrant buying another car as a stand-in, I had the BMW to sell. I advertised it everywhere, offered it to everyone I knew and dropped the price considerably, but for some reason nobody wanted a 26-year old petrol-engined executive car with rusty sills. Until another mate rang me up having seen my listing on Facebook, and wanted to know more.

Bulkhead outrigger is in a bit of a state

After telling him the ins and outs, he reminded me of an old Series III that he had tucked away in deepest Essex; he’d offered it to me before some time ago, but I hadn’t the space as my classic Range Rover was filling my work bay. With that excuse no longer in play, I decided to have a deal with him, despite not seeing the station wagon in person.

True to his word, he turned up at my unit one Saturday afternoon with the Limestone 109in on his trailer, helped me wheel it inside, loaded up the unsaleable BMW and headed off. I didn’t even look underneath it – a quick glance revealed a tropical roof with intact vents, Fairey freewheeling hubs, straight panels and even the rare-as-hen’s-teeth station wagon trim pieces still in place.

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The 109in came without an engine – Martin has already sourced this 2.6-litre

​​​​​​But things aren’t all rosy. For a start, it didn’t come with an engine. It’s originally a 2.6 six-cylinder model, which is what I hope to restore it to; in fact, I’ve already picked up an engine for it. But first, the plan is to work from front to back sorting out the rust. I’ve stripped off the front wings and had a poke and a prod, and one front dumb iron, the front crossmember, steering relay socket and offside bulkhead outrigger all need attention before I get to the bulkhead itself, which actually doesn’t look too awful in the grand scheme of things. Then I’ll sort the front axle, fit the engine, and work my way to the back.

Martin finds his happy place…

To summarise, I’ve ended up with another comprehensive project, all because a car was hanging around longer than I’d liked. Of course, I can downplay it all day long, but actually I’m really excited to get stuck in and get the old station wagon back on the road. My dog, Bentley, can’t wait to ride in the back of it in relative luxury – he’s not too keen on riding up front with me in the truck cab, as he’s a bit big to perch on the passenger seat. I’m still trying to justify this to myself, aren’t I?

 

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