Well, reintroducing, actually. some of you might have met Louis's Series III 88-inch Land Rover in the past, and a few of you were aware that I bought it from him while Roseann was in Africa, but we kept it a secret until the first morning she was home. After showing off the remodeling I'd done on the cottage and bathroom, I said, "Um, I have one more surprise. I need to go get it." She was obviously intrigued as I disappeared down the road to our well and fired up the Land Rover. She was waiting, open-mouthed, as I came around the corner to the house, then simply walked up and said, "Move over!" Of course, having just spent two months driving right-hand-drive Land Cruisers in Tanzania and Kenya, this right-hand-drive Rover was no problem for her. And, being who she is, the fact that I'd raided our money market account to buy it while she was gone was no problem. I'm a lucky man.
So, here's the new member of the family:
When I bought my FJ40, 25 years ago, the Land Cruiser and Land Rover were the two final choices. I bought the Toyota on the strength of Toyota's reputation (and my experience with my first car, a Corolla), and I've never been sorry. But I always wanted a Land Rover too. Thanks to Louis's military transfer out of Tucson, I got the chance.
Now comes the fun part - repair, partial restoration, and modification, on a leisurely freelance budget.
The first issue was a horrid driveline vibration I noticed immediately. It felt like a U-joint, and sure enough, simply lifting the center seat bottom while underway revealed a driveshaft oscillating wildly. But we made it the 50 miles home, and the next day I pulled the rear driveshaft, to find this:
Yikes. Worse than bad, the buggered U-joint had actually worn into the front yoke, necessitating replacement of that part. Here's the joint (no needle bearings left in it!):
With this repaired, Grendel starts and runs very well. The 2.25 Rover four-cylinder motor is incredibly smooth and quiet at idle.
There are more issues, as one would expect for the price! Chiefly the normal Land Rover frame rot in the rear. Notice the rusted-through section in front of the spring hanger:
So a replacement frame, possibly a new galvanized unit if finances allow, is in order eventually, although I've seen mobile Series vehicles with worse rot than this. I'm not sure how long this vehicle stayed in England before immigrating to the U.S., but it's likely that's where most of the damage accrued.
Upholstery could use a little TLC too:
Fortunately Series seats are so rudimentary that new replacements are cheap.
So - goals? I don't plan to do any cosmetic work on the body, which has nary a straight panel and loads of character. I want to fix the frame and various leaks I was shocked, shocked to find staining the spot where the FJ40 never leaked a drop! Then a roll cage, head restraints, and three-point belts, because I won't compromise on safety. I want to find a used canvas top and door tops. After that, who knows? Stay tuned.
Oh, and, regarding the name: In the original text of Beowulf, Grendel was described as being a "member of the cursed race of Cain." Since I've owned a Land Cruiser for so long, and now added a Land Rover, the name just seemed right.
Plus, it could prove to be a monster to work on . . .