Diary Day
ashley's Diary
Date 25 Oct 2006
Country Sa Kalahari
Weather Sunny
Diary Land Rover Defender: These are vehicles with many flaws, but they also have “character” by the bucket load (By “character” I am not talking about unreliability!) The “character” I’m talking about here is the ability to constantly amaze you. When faced by a seemingly impossible task, the Land Rover completes it and dares you to find something even more difficult next time, rather like a mechanical David Livingstone I presume, a man as flawed in his way as us all, but with the grit and determination to constantly overcome challenges placed in his way. As far as reliability goes then, yes it was a leap of faith to only bring a wiper blade as my entire “spare parts package, but the only parts I’ve needed are 6 inches of high pressure fuel pipe and a Q/D coupler to fix the fuel return pipe that split in a herd of elephants in Moremi. I’ve not even had to replace the brake pads yet (mainly because I hate using the brakes, better to use a combination of the horn and windscreen wipers) and three of the original 6 tyres are still going strong I am not writing a Land Rover advert here and the flaws are many and obvious and can’t be shrugged off in this modern world as quirky British eccentricities (my spell checker has just given me the choice of using “brutish” for “british”…is Bill Gates trying to tell me something here?) Anyway the build quality is a joke and would have your average Japanese production engineer reaching for his Zantac at the very least if not actually falling on his sword in shame. Many of the engineers (but not Matthew Shearn…not my brother-in-law), especially in the ergonomics department (if they even have one!) deserve to be put up against a brick wall and shot (pour encourage les autres!) We (the owners) are not all stunted, skinny hunchbacks with no shoulders you know, although only the second adjective is missing from my noble physique. It is perhaps the only new vehicle sold in the UK where the demist doesn’t (probably why many owners fit bullbars, to sweep up the unseen pedestrians) where you’d stay drier on a motorcycle, and is the only vehicle sold in Africa where the only person kept cool by the aircon is the front seat passenger. I’ve given up saying to the kids awash in gallons of sweat “It’ll get cooler soon, I’ve put the aircon on” as Clare sips her Martini beautifully chilled. Fortunately for LR people fall in love with them and my suggestion of selling LR with no name is always met with cries of “you can’t sell him Dad, he’s one of the family” (but then the thought that I could have a 1975 Ducati 750SS, a 1978 Moto-Guzzi Le Mans MK 1, a 1975 BMW R90S, a 1980 Moto-Morini 500 Sei and still have change to buy a small get me from A to B nice and warm 1989 Nissan Micra remains very tempting!) The TD5 engine is a little rough above 70mph (maybe I’m missing the point here!) and needs to be warmed up carefully (no hills!) for at least the first 10 minutes or so if embarrassing stalls on gentle slopes are to be avoided. Why BMW trusted LR to design their own engine “Project Storm” (more like project fart) when they owned them is beyond me. However, mine has now completed about 38000 miles in some of the harshest conditions on the planet with not even the slightest oil leak or failure. The LR dealer network needs fixing, this is equally true in the UK as Africa. There is a myriad of independent LR workshops throughout the world which provide service way in advance of the supposed main dealer network. My suggestion here would be for LR to somehow incorporate them into the system where LR positively encourages these “second tier” dealers with parts back up and recognition of their skills and brand enthusiasm. It would also have the benefit of at least quadrupling “LR authorised dealers” presence at the stroke of a pen…Let me at it! One thing that I have been impressed with is the fuel consumption, a VW Lupo beating 156 mppg, that is miles per person gallons as my LR has an average occupancy rate of 6 (26mpg X 6) for at least 99% of the time (and at other times has a few hitch hikers thrown in for good measure). That beats all the single occupancy Micras, Polos and Unos that you see on the rain drenched M4 on the commute to Bristol. My ability to juggle figures shamelessly points to a future career as a statistician. On a serious note LR really has to address the concerns of environmentalists and if I may be as bold to suggest a couple of “special edition” Defenders…a Greenpeace Defender with a free (inflatable) plastic dolphin with the washwipe modified to create a beautiful miniature rainbow on use and a 50pence donation for everyone sold and a “Friends of the Earth Rover” which would come in a fetching shade of “pinko-liberal” pink with hemp seats, seed propagation units in the carpets (which are always damp anyway) and a full length solar panel which would be plugged into the National Grid when not being driven. There, sorted! Sometimes I’m so brilliant it scares me! PIC SHOWS: "'Ere love, fancy a bonk?" or lion foreplay!
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