TEN years ago Geoff Cooper found his dream car.
He bought his ‘85 model hard top V8 engine on coil springs Land Rover in good condition.
Then “in a moment of weakness” sold it to another 4WD enthusiast.
“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Geoff said.
“Then finally, just a few months ago I was able to buy it back.
“It’s undergone a few changes since I had it, but it’s still got relatively low mileage for its age.”
The Land Rover may not look that exciting for car enthusiasts who love the sleek profile, gleaming paint job and mint interior of historic cars.
But Geoff’s Land Rover is special.
“The 1985 County Land Rover was very popular and Land Rover sold heaps of those, but this one is very unusual.
“It’s a hard top V8 on coil springs; it has no power steering, a four-speed gearbox and its colour is unusual too.
“I’ve done a fair bit of research on it and had a couple of experts have a look and we think it must have been a private import.
“If that’s the case, it’s even rarer still.”
Geoff intends to return the car to its original condition.
That means a lot of work on the body.
“The aluminium body means it’s lighter and there’s no rust, but to fix it, it’s not just a matter of filling and welding the holes,” Geoff said.
“The aluminium body makes Land Rover particularly suitable for customising to suit your four wheel driving needs, so this one’s since had a solar panel bolted to the bonnet.
“I’ll need to find a completely new bonnet – this one’s beyond repair with all the holes in it.
“I asked the bloke who I bought it off why he didn’t attach the solar panel to the roof and he said that was where his boat lived and the bonnet was the only available place.
“Luckily the bonnets are the same from Land Rover to Land Rover.”
Returning the Land Rover to the original includes making a four-speed gear box, finding a new/old Land Rover carburettor and renovating the interior – which is also riddled with holes drilled into it.
Luckily, Geoff is up to the task.
The former engineer can make many of the tools he needs and his mechanical knowledge will be put to the test.
He’s done it before – on his 1971 ZD1 Ford Fairlane and 1968 HK Holden Brougham.
“Yes, I’ve got a foot in both camps, a Holden and a Ford,” Geoff laughed.
“But really, I’ve loved Land Rovers since the 1970s, since four wheel driving with the kids in the mountains, up Licola way.
“There are places I would go with a Land Rover that I wouldn’t go with any other vehicle – and a few Japanese 4WDs I’ve had to rescue with one!
“I intend to set this one up for camping and take it up to the mountains again.”
In his second year with the South Gippsland Historical Automobile Club, Geoff intends to put his Land Rover and either the Ford or Holden on display during the Daffodil Festival.
Club members will have their historic cars in the Woolworths’ car park on Saturday, August 27 from 9am to about 2pm.
A rash decision and dream rebuild