Land Rover Defender 130.
It wasn't, as you might think, a charming blonde who had stolen his attentions, but rather one that was very grey and slightly unshapely. Wally Meikle already has a charming blonde in his life in the form of Mrs. Meikle, but now there is another ... and it's a Land Rover ... and worse, much worse, it's a left hand drive Defender 130!
I met up with Wally and Emm in the English Lake District, late last summer. They were camping in "The Hilton", freshly converted from workhorse to pleasure craft, and I was lucky enough to get an informal guided tour of the vehicle. Defender 130's are rare, and like most this one has a bit of a history.
H 961 YYT was built in 1991 by SVO Solihull as a mobile laboratory for a defence industry contractor. (Yes, I do know who for, but I'm not allowed to tell). It seems that the vehicle was only used for one contract in its primary role, and was then mothballed in a warehouse for some 5 years.
Enter one Mr. Meikle with wad of cash in hand, who duly purchased the vehicle with an incredible 6000kms on the clock. It has now covered a mere 11,000kms, and is still "in absolutely perfect condition", a statement which I can vouch for. The conversion from mobile lab to home-from-home took just three months and was carried out using only the highest quality materials and components. The result, I think you will agree from the specification, is a quite unique off-road vehicle.
The rear accommodation may not be particularly streamlined, but at least an average sized human being can stand fully upright, and that insulated aluminium box certainly is strong. Indeed the whole vehicle feels like it could fend off a herd of charging Wildebeest with some ease. The long wheelbase and modest departure angle won't help it win any club trials either, but let's be honest, that's not its raison d'etre. This is one vehicle which is more Sahara and Serengeti, than Knightsbridge or King's Road. And that probably explains partly why it went up for sale, at the not unreasonable price of 16,000 UK sterling, or very near offer. --> The vast, expansive plains of County Durham are sadly devoid of Wildebeest these days.Surely this is one "Hilton" that deserves to be relocated, to somewhere entirely more suitable? -->
- Peter Bradley
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