1959 Series II 109" 5 Door Safari Wagon

In many ways the SchoolBus is another Rover that found us.  It all began one day when our crazy cousin Ken called, saying that there was a LandRover for sale in the paper.  Ken is one of the few people who truly understands our Rover problem-- largely because he has one of his own (except with old Fiats).  At one point he was up to about five Fiats before he found help and recovered his senses.  Today he is almost Fiat-Free but that's a different story.  In many ways cousin Ken is also partially responsible for our habit, having helped egg us on by towing at least four of our twelve Rovers home in his sturdy late ‘60’s International Harvester pickup truck.

The car that would become the SchoolBus was listed in a local paper called the Free Gazette, poorly advertised under “Rover” as a 1959 Type 2, 4 door.  A what?  Da got all nostalgic and hoped it might be a Series II 5 Door Safari Wagon but after our crazed experiences it might not even be a LandRover at all.  Buying a LandRover through the paper is not our usual modus operandi.  In fact at this point in time we had never done it before, and worse yet had only bought one running car -- but we were curious and why not just check it out?  After a call to Woodacre, we were off.

When we got there we found a fairly beat but original rough early Series II, 5 door wagon coated largely in the strange and mysterious original sand color.   As with all Rover purchases, the owner proved to be at least as strange as his car.  Straight off he launched into big tales of running commercial fishing expeditions in Idaho with the poor little Rover and doing some pretty hardcore off-roading.  Although these tales were remotely possible, the car simply looked too beat to live up to these grand expectations -- or at least not in this decade.  The driver’s door and fender had at one time been replaced, the steering box had more than a whole lot of play, some GrandAuto non-original turn break lights had been installed, and the wiring harness though 85% original was a total mess.  (I am not too found of the old screw in type series II harnesses.)  The car was however “running and complete.”  Da  recalls that to prove his boisterous claims, the owner took us on a wild off road test-drive into the hillside around his suburban house.  We still could not believe it but the car made it.  I told the man that we were interested but could not afford the current asking price and we left.  In truth the car was probably worth the asking price but we had enough Rovers and we were trying hard at the time to curb the habit.

In about a month we got a strange call back.  “Do you still want the car,” the man desperately asked?  The owner was in the midst of liquidating all his possessions to try to start a river running company in, of all places, Russia.  Russia, having recently undergone some political modifications, now accepted tourism and the owner planned to make it big by being one of the first Westerners to start a tour business on some huge Siberian lake.  Lake Bakal, it was called--the largest fresh water body in the world.  After surprisingly little bargaining, we ended up paying substantially less than the asking price with an old Klepper kayak frame included in tow (for the river trips.)  I don’t know who ended up with the better end of the deal but we owned another Rover and for the first time in a long while we were able to drive it home.

Since purchasing SchoolBus we’ve removed a second auxiliary fuel pump, replaced the carb and exhaust manifold, replaced non original break lights, put out a minor engine fire, rewired part of the engine compartment, chased out a number of woordrats from the engine compartment, and now need to put the auxiliary fuel pump back in.  Da and Lew like to put kayaks in the car, and according to Lew its his favorite of the dirty dozen.  “Every time I drive it they warn me that the steering box has ‘a lot of play.’  This basically means that steering is more a matter of compromise than decision.  How can you not like a car that has stronger opinions than you do about where to go?”

Next Rover:  Yellow 80

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