Orange 80:

1951 Series I 80" SoftTop

The Orange 80 and the Cotati Three (Roo's Perspective)

When Americans think of old LandRovers, they think of Series II's.  (Or at least they used to.)  In the United States, Series I's are rare and Series I 80" are almost, as the old expression goes, scarce as hens teeth.  Thus one day during the thick of things Da got a strange call in response to one of our well placed want ads.  The caller asked,  "What type of LandRovers were we looking for?"  This was a particularly strange question since our ad proudly stated, "LandRovers wanted.  Any Type.  Any Year.  Any Condition."  Who was this guy and what  could he possibly have that was so strange that we would not want it?

He turned out to have a lot--not one but three LandRovers!  One had been running for awhile on his ranch and he had bought the other two for parts.  He told us that two were 80's, and then asked if we knew what that meant.  Considering ourselves somewhat of LandRover aficionados and knowledgeable of LandRover lore, we said yes.  In reality, neither Da nor I had ever seen an 80" in real life--only in distant photos in the Review and LRO.


It turned out that the man was in a bit of a jam.  The cars were stored at his fatherís ranch and after 50 some years the place was being sold.  (Progress you know, they were going to build rows of town houses.)  It was in the sales agreement that the place had to be cleaned up and all the vehicles removed.  We got the address, somewhere up in Cotati, and agreed to meet the next Saturday.  All the vehicles, we thought?  What does that mean?


We arrived to find a little piece of insanity that far surpassed our own.  Hidden from the street behind an old farmhouse lay two enormous chicken barns.  They were low, corrugated roofed structures with open sides where wire had once lay.  Each building was 2 stalls wide and at least 120 feet long.  In each stall lay a vehicle of some bizarre type in various states of disarray.  Old '32 Pontiacs, '70 pickups, farm equipment, tractors, vintage Italian motorcycles, and yes LandRovers!  It was like a car wrecking yard.


As the story goes, the man's father purchased the green 80" a number of years back.  It was intended to be a ranch work vehicle, but had never really amounted to more than a project.  Soon the son had become interested and tracked down the second Orange 80" for parts.    The 107 Pickup had been abandoned by a friend after someone had cannibalized it to repair a Series II with a bad tranny and ball joints.

Da was in love.  To me the 80's were cool but sort of unpractical.  How could you go on adventure with a car that had no top, heaters, or defrosters?  I did agree that all the hardware built onto the bonnet to flip the windscreen down was very cool, however.  But the guy wanted more than $500 for the group.  We needed Series II parts, not more project cars.  But once Da bites into a dream its hard to pry him loose -- and he had already swallowed this one up to the tail.  Tears were in his eyes and he was forking out the cash.  ďAh, itís his mistake, nobody in the USA wants Series I's.Ē  I have lived to eat those words.

Little if no information was provided with the orange 80".  He had apparently found it in some suburb outside of Fresno or something.  It is a particularly strange Rover.  From the serial number, I identified it as a '51 LHD Export model.  Under the thick orange paint is strange semi-metallic light silver blue.  Maybe U.S. Airforce color?  (This seems terribly unlikely but who in their right mind would paint light metallic silver blue over the original dark green?)  It is a cheerful little car with the original cast LandRover badges that came before the stamped Aluminum ones.  Even though the man always claimed that the green one was better, the orange 80 has always been my favorite.

Next Rover:  The Green 80"

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