A few weeks ago we went to a local farmers market. The moment we arrived another Land Rover drove into the car park. In Hoedspruit there are many Land Rovers but we haven’t met any other Series Landies. We quickly introduced ourselves and Lucy to Tris and Scott and N’doto and invited them to our place in the bush for tea and cake (we are British). Scott had been having flying lessons in Hoedspruit so we thought that having a photo shoot of our Series 3/2a Land Rovers on the Wits Rural airstrip would be the ideal thing.
While doing the obligatory “tyre kicking” and bonnets up inspection, one of the site managers sped towards us in his Toyota, with a worried look across his face. two land rovers, bonnets up, must be the broke down helping the broken down. We put his mind at ease and he drove off.
Scott and Tris are on a multi month overland trip around Southern Africa and with many social media followers the above photo of Lucy and N’doto drew some interest.
Lucy, the Land Rover formerly known as Puff has a long and well documented history. Although officially and legally she is a 1971 Series IIa she was rebuilt in 1999 by Dennis Wilson. When I started my own research into her history I started with the logo on the doors. We have received a lot of attention from this, and a quick google search of it brought up Dennis’s African Edventure from Cape Town to London and his (no offline but archived) overland blog. I was then reading a blog about overland preparation and solar panels and recognised one of the photos as one of our landy, linked to Murray Earle’s overland blog, a journey from Edinburgh to South Africa. At this point my search appeared to dry up. Looking through the log book that came in the landy I found the South African ownership document of Rob Symmington, with a passport photo of him taped to it. Rob was fairly easy to track down, he runs a company called Escape the City and he mentions his overland trip on his website. On twitter he told me that he drove it from Cape Town to Nairobi in 2006 and he continued to own it until 2012. In the folder there is an affidavit of Rob’s suggesting that he leant it to James Rutland, who, though did not own it, drove it from Kenya to Cape Town. We bought Lucy/Puff from Or Shlomi and Clare Kucek who owned it March to May 2013 while they travelled to Namibia and Swaziland.
In May, through a Gumtree advert, Lucy/Puff was transferred to me and Joss, ready for our time in South Africa. Although we haven’t taken her on such epic journeys, she has taken us to Kruger many times, been our removal lorry when we started living near Hoedspruit, taken us to rural clinic and the district hospital for Joss to be able to do her medical research, and give me many hours of learning how cars actually work!
There is a gap in the history, between Rob, and Clare and Or. I have a document in the name of GJ Speechly in Cape Town. Maybe Rob or Clare can help us with these missing years.
I feel privileged not only to be driving a brilliant piece of engineering and and icon, but also one that has such a well driving heritage that inspires to journey and surely delivers. For now we have a few months left here and we don’t want to let go of her.
This post has been long coming but now is a reply to Martin Solms blog post about our Landy.