22 September 2023
Eddie Grinstead has owned this Series II for nearly 40 years, and now it’s playing its part in raising money for Children in Need…
I met Eddie Grinstead for the first time when he and some of his fellow members from the Surrey & Sussex region of the Series Two Club paid a visit to the Dunsfold Collection, bringing with them the club’s Children in Need fundraising bonnet to get a Dunsfold sticker and a donation.
I took a shine to Eddie’s V8-powered Series II 88in truck cab, all the more so when he told me he’d bought it in 1984 at the age of 16 and has owned if for almost 40 years. I thought LRM readers might appreciate the story as well, so Eddie and I arranged to meet for a longer natter and a photoshoot (watch the video on our LRM YouTube channel here).
After 39 years of ownership, Eddie’s Series II is just the way he wants it
At that first meeting, Eddie told me how reliable the Series II had been after he’d dealt with the engine blowing up in 1985, which we’ll come back to shortly. It’s been a workhorse, a greenlaner and a trialler as well, and has been re-engined three times and had a replacement rear chassis. But Eddie insists it’s still the same old
Series II at heart.
I was looking forward to our planned second meeting and emailed Eddie a day or two before to make sure our date was still on. “Absolutely,” he said, “even if I have to tow the 88 there.” Tempting fate is never a good thing, and half an hour after he was supposed to arrive at our meeting place, I picked up a message to say that he would be late. Boiling coolant was squirting through the radiator grille like a miniature fire hose, and he was off to buy some K-Seal. Eddie and his Series II arrived soon after, whisps of steam swirling from under the bonnet.
Bags of character from every angle
The 88 was built at Solihull in June 1958 so it’s an early one – chassis number 146800354 to be precise. It’s first owners were C Allan & Co of Bridge Garage, Taunton, Somerset, who were Bedford and Scammell dealers, and it was given its Somerset registration plate on 5 July that year. C Allan & Co eventually sold it in the 1970s to a farmer in Hampshire who kept it for over ten years, and Eddie bought it from him in 1984, meaning that he is just the third owner.
“It was built with a 2.0-litre diesel engine,” Eddie tells me. “It cost me £70 and an Allen Power Scythe mower, and I think the farmer was more interested in the mower than he was in the cash. And before you ask why a 16-year-old had an Allen Power Scythe, the answer is that I really wanted a motorbike but my parents wouldn’t allow that, so the mower was something else with an engine that I could tinker with. I’d owned a grey Fergie tractor since I was 15, so the Allen Power Scythe was in good company.
Cockpit has evolved over the years to suit Eddie’s requirements
“I’ve been around Land Rovers literally all of my life. I cut my teeth as a toddler on the top of the dash of my father’s 1954 86in Series I, which he bought in 1966, two years before I was born. We still have her. Dad managed to buy her because she developed a loud engine rattle, but it was just a flint trapped in the bellhousing. She’s mine now, and still on the button and in regular use. The first owner was Sir Dudley Forwood, the third baronet Forwood who had been the sole equerry to the Duke of Windsor after his abdication in 1937 until the outbreak of war in 1939.”
For those of you who aren’t avid followers of the Netflix blockbuster The Crown or the Oscar-winning film The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, Edward VIII became king in January 1936 after the death of his father, George V. His intention to marry the American divorcee Wallis Simpson precipitated the Abdication Crisis of December 1937, when Edward gave up the throne and was succeeded by his younger brother, who became George VI, the father of our late Queen.
Sir Dudley apparently accompanied the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their ill-advised visit to Germany in 1937 when they met Hitler and expressed a degree of admiration for his government, which was to lead to allegations of Nazi sympathies that dogged the Duke and Duchess for the rest of their lives. It certainly adds an interesting dimension to the fascinating back story of Eddie’s Series I. But that’s enough of the history lesson; let’s get back to the Series II.
Instruments and controls have that charming originality...
...with some bespoke modifications!
Eddie passed his driving test in it in March 1986 in Guildford, in the snow. “When we got back, the receptionist at the test centre remarked to the examiner that he smelled of oil, which is possibly why I passed first time, but might also have been an early warning for what was about to follow…
“When I bought it, I knew the Series II wasn’t in the greatest shape and I suspected it had a cracked cylinder head, but I didn’t expect to find that three weeks later, on my way to work, the 2.0-litre diesel would make a loud bang and develop a bit of a misfire. It had thrown a con rod out through the side of the block! I remember phoning my commercial vehicle mechanic dad and telling him something clearly wasn’t right as I’d taken the head off to find three pistons at the top.
Rover V8 looks good and sounds glorious
“I replaced the dead Rover diesel with a 4203 Perkins which was the popular Land Rover diesel upgrade at the time, and the Perkins lump was quickly followed by Range Rover differentials and an overdrive unit. The Land Rover was my daily driver and my work vehicle, and at weekends I used it to explore the greenlanes of Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire, back when you could easily drive a 100 or more miles of greenlanes in a day. I was also a member of the AWDC and took part in the occasional RTV trial and off-road play days with it.
“Then a relationship with a girlfriend who lived in Weymouth demanded a better turn of speed from the Series II, first from a Rover 2.2 out of a P6 saloon, but quickly followed by a 3.5-litre V8. About five years ago during an overhaul and freshen up, I fitted a shortened LT95 gearbox from a Range Rover which is less likely to spit out its gears and is well-suited behind the V8 in a Series II. At the same time, I replaced the rear chassis.
The infamous SeriesTwo Club logo in the flesh, so to speak
“I still use the Series II for occasional greenlaning but I’ve stopped doing RTV trials in it. People often ask me why I don’t restore such an early vehicle to factory spec but I prefer it as it is – a good, useable Land Rover with a personality that reflects my 39 years of ownership. Concours-quailty cars don't really do it for me. “I’ve been a member of the Series Two Club on and off for many years, and a few years ago the club’s Vehicle Registrations Officer asked me if I could inspect an ex-military Series IIA for a club member local to me in Sussex who was trying to obtain a registration number from the DVLA. Having carried out the inspection and completed the paperwork, the VRO told me that for the DVLA to accept it I needed to be an area rep for the club. There hadn’t been an area rep for the Surrey & Sussex branch for quite a while, so it was certainly a cunning way to get me to volunteer. I enjoy the job and I’m hopefully putting something back into the Land Rover world that has given me so much enjoyment over the years.
Work to do: Poorly original raised square top radiator will be repaired and refitted
“As well as the Series II and my father’s old 86in, I’ve also got a 1952 Series I 80in that is undergoing an extensive restoration that I hope will be completed in time for this year’s Goodwood Revival, where it can be part of the joint 75th anniversary celebrations for both the Goodwood Motor Circuit and Land Rover. There’s also a Discovery 2 which is my daily driver.
“I’ve not lost the boyhood interest in vintage tractors and we currently have six in our collection, although the old lawnmower habit has been superseded by a modern ride-on Massey Ferguson.”
Original 1958 licence remains intact and in place
After we’d completed the photoshoot, Eddie nursed the Series II home, at one point having to pull into a lay-by in Loxwood to put half a gallon of water into the radiator after the heater started gurgling. He’s planning to drop in a replacement radiator immediately, but the one that sprung a leak is original and Eddie plans to get it re-cored.
As for the Children in Need bonnet, it’s a perfect example of Eddie’s point about giving something back, as he explains. “To celebrate 75 years of Land Rover and 65 years of the Series II, a group of friends within the Series Two Club had the idea to send a Series II bonnet the length and breadth of the country, visiting all 20 of the club’s regions, collecting donations for the BBC’s Children in Need appeal along the way.
“The upper surface of the bonnet is divided into 20 sections to allow for each area to make their mark. To make it a challenge, the bonnet can only be transported in, on, or mounted to a Series Land Rover. No modern vehicles allowed!”
Eddie and other club members collect their sticker from Dunsfold
Philip Bashall and I were delighted to welcome Eddie and his fellow club members from the Surrey & Sussex branch to the Dunsfold Collection where we added a Collection sticker to the bonnet, and performed some aerial ballet using the Collection cherry-picker to ensure we had an interesting photograph of the event.
Series Two Club 65th Anniversary Bonnet Challenge
The bonnet has so far been to the Series Two Club’s New Forest & Solent region, the South-West region, the Surrey & Sussex, and the Garden of England regions, raising almost £800 for Children in Need. You can make a donation by visiting the club’s fundraising page at justgiving.com/fundraising/series2club65bonnet
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