Land Rover Series Offroad vs other 4x4s at AWDCSA

Driving a Land Rover Series offroad is an experience like no other. For many it is where the love for these legends is cemented. But you can fall out of love just like that. But sometimes just sometimes you can get that love back again.

Land Rover Love

Having grown up in Land Rovers made them a part of my life. For 20 years I drove Series Land Rovers. But eventually we fell out of love as I was lured by the newer Defender and later Discovery. Its still a Land Rover I told myself it was just going to be faster and more comfortable to drive. It was bliss driving my dream car a Defender 90 and later a Discovery 3. I was as happy as could be. Not missing the old loud, noisy, smelly leaky series Landies that I had grown up in. But that all changed on one crisp winter morning that set me on a new but not so unfamiliar path.

All Wheel Drive Club South Africa

It is amazing what a day in a smelly noisy bumpy uncomfortable Series 3 can do for your perspective and state of mind. I spent a day in a 1972 Land Rover Series 3. On the highway, on the dirt and in the rough stuff. My brother called and asked to join him with the LROC at the Association of All Wheel Drive Clubs (AAWDC) inter club fun day. He said they were entering a team of only Series vehicles, that sounded cool. There was great excitement and some apprehension about this little expedition of ours.

Brian had borrowed his old Series 3 SWB that he had rebuilt 25 years ago  and since sold on to a friend. As we set off he warned me that it was rather bumpy, strange comment I thought coming from my hardcore Land Rover brother. Sure enough a few meters down the dirt road and I was airborne off the seat for the first of many lift offs. Besides having some fun, our goals for the day were to make it there without breaking down, complete the course and then make it home without breaking down. Lets just say that we did not achieve all of our goals.

Driving a Series Land Rover

The trip there was a bit slow, bumpy, noisy and smelly thanks to the usual petrol fumes. In other words, it was magnificent, good average of 85km/h and problem free, brilliant. We took pride in the fact that we were virtually driving a classic car and so these experiences were priceless. As we arrived it was easy to find our start que. It was the one with the coolest looking vehicles all older than ourselves, mostly Series 1s. It was great catching up with some of the other members. I had not seen many for more than 10 years, but there they were still in Landies,  fancy that.

These classic Land Rovers drew mixed reactions from the rest of the participants and spectators. The plastic 4×4 drivers of course thinking that these vehicles were old, noisy, useless and unreliable while others could not take enough pictures of these pioneering vehicles in action. They certainly drew attention and were unmistakable as they lined up before each obstacle. We had to dodge some of the marshals with scrutineering rules like seat belts and roll bars as many of the vehicles had their tops off in true Landy style. The line up of 8 SWB Land Rovers  included 4 Series 1s, 4 Series 2s and 2 Series 3s.

Land Rover Series Offroad 4×4 Obstacles

The obstacles as usual were made up of a mix of fun gymkana type exercises and some pure driving obstacles. We were excited and ready to go, so off we went to our first obstacle.

 First obstacle was a fairly rough route over some logs and then up, over and down some bumps, ending off with a short tight right hand climb. Not too difficult we thought? The catch was that the co-driver got a tray with puzzle pieces that had to be assembled as we drove.  With me being the co-driver this was where I realised that this vehicle was really bumpy. Both myself and the tray spent most of the time airborn – not much puzzle building was possible. To end it all off we crested the climb in true Landy style with wheels spinning and dust flying. But there was an ominous clonk from down below followed by a clickety-click. As we rolled down the other side Brian said in a casual concerned voice “I think something is broken”.

Landy Breakdown

We quietly limped off to the parking lot as the rest of the team proceeded to the second obstacle. Brian proceeded to dismantle the front hubs to see what was up. With the left drive shaft out and still intact and some further diagnosis we realised that the front diff had gone. After 40 years of abuse it was probably understandable. So we got the vehicle mobile after removing the drive shaft and joined the team again on obstacle 3 in two wheel drive, this was going to be interesting.

It is quite surprising what you can do in two wheel drive in a Land Rover series offroad. At the end of the day we had missed out 3 obstacles and abandoned 1 but completed 6 out of the 10 in total – not bad for a two wheel drive Landy.

The Final Score

The rest of the team did really well in their old vehicles and we had a few of our Landies high up on the scoreboard ahead of many of the other newer “more capable” vehicles. So what was the secret to doing so well. A combination of factors really. Firstly we had some skilled and capable drivers who knew how to drive their vehicles. Secondly these older Landies had short bodies, good articulation and great visibility. Then lastly with their relatively narrow tracks and taking some good lines meant that they made it over some of the most difficult obstacles. The day ended with a prize giving and presentation after a day of great fun had by all.

Our “slow” trip back home was a great time for reflection. It had been enjoyable it participating and driving a Land Rover Series offroad. It was great to see these legends do what they were built for and to see how they compared to the newer vehicles. The most fun though was within our team. Everyone was fairly evenly matched in mostly standard vehicles, leaving the skill of the driver as the only variable.

So with the exhilaration of the day, the rush of old memories and the excitement of future possibilities, plans were hatched. That Series 1 107 restoration project that had been lying forgotten under the tree at home for the last 10 years was about to be transformed . . . . .

See the full video on our YouTube channel The Overland Legend

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