20 May 2023
Jack Dobson (aka LRM’s columnist 'Dobbo Down Under', Brisbane, Australia), shows us round his project...
How did you find this project?
I bought a very rusty 88in parts car off a farmer and just as I was about to leave he mentioned his father also had a Land Rover and he might be open to sell. Thinking that he probably wouldn’t, I only took a brief look (I really should have crawled underneath to inspect the chassis more thoroughly but it looked a bit snakey under there). The next day I get a call and for some reason agreed to buy it.
You must be offered so many projects that you turn down. Why did you go for this one?
I knew it had a bit of rust, so really I was interested in it from a parts perspective – the body panels were all really straight thanks to the monstrous wraparound
bull-bar and, aside from the engine, it was all very original-looking. Plus, I’m a sucker for a Series IIA.
You can’t be a serious car man Down Under without a trayback in your collection, right?
You know what, I used to loathe the traybacks, I felt they were ugly things. But I was wrong! They are charming vehicles that have stacks of character. I just love how utilitarian they are with absolutely no frills. With all that load space, why aren’t traybacks a thing in the UK?
What are/were the biggest jobs on it?
Crikey, where to begin? This has got to be one of the rustiest Land Rovers I have worked on. I knew the only way it could sensibly be given a new lease of life was to find a replacement chassis. Without one, it would remain a parts car. Luck was definitely on my side because a replacement rolling chassis came up for sale barely an hour away. The only small negative was that it was a four-cylinder version, whilst my trayback is a six. I knew there were some differences but not quite the extent of them…
The next huge job was the bulkhead, it required new door pillars, footwells and many other rust repairs. I spent hours and hours fixing it and came out the end as an experienced welder.
Patina is the new shiny. Is that correct?
Most of my restorations boast new, shiny paint jobs and that’s generally what I favour. But with this project I decided to make it a patina build. My conclusion: it saves a huge amount of time and, in this instance, I rather like the ratty look.
Tell us about the engine
Originally it would have had a six-cylinder Land Rover engine but this was replaced with a Holden 173 by the previous owner. It’s a common conversion here. I had the engine running but it sounded a bit worn-out. Rather than go to the expense of rebuilding it, I simply fitted another Holden engine which had been removed for an electric conversion.
Jack’s dad came over from the UK to help out
It must have been special having your dad over from the UK to help.
My Dad stayed for a couple of months and it was fantastic fun working with him again. I think he fell in love with the trayback so it’s largely down to him it won a reprieve and didn’t get broken for parts.
Dad and I rebuilt my first Land Rover together some 25 years ago – it was funny driving to work together in that same Land Rover on the other side of the world.
Is this going to be the business vehicle?
That’s the plan. Dad applied the company livery during his visit and I really do need something that can haul parts around as well as shunt vehicles without being precious about paintwork.
Any advice for people taking on similar projects, Jack?
Given the condition of this Land Rover, my advice to anyone else would be to find a better vehicle to restore. Traybacks remain pretty niche here and I certainly wouldn’t make any money selling it. I knew all of these things when I started the build so I’m at peace (and have a very cool Land Rover, so regrets are irrelevant).
How can people follow what you are doing or contact your business?
LIKE TO READ MORE? Try our Budget Digital Subscription. You'll get access to over 7 years of Land Rover Monthly – that’s more than 100 issues plus the latest digital issue. The issues are fully searchable so you can easily find what you are looking for and what’s more it’s less than 10p a day to subscribe. Click here to find out more details and start enjoying all the benefits now.