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Steve Cropley: We're going on a Landie hunt


This week, Steve goes on a Land Rover hunt – he’s looking for a 1950 Land Rover Series 1 – and makes his longest day trip for a year in a Bentley Bentayga.

Monday

It’s not often we all get the chance to participate in the global hunt for a unique classic car, but here’s one. We’re looking for an Aussie-registered 1950 Land Rover Series 1. Autocar’s firm friend and former European editor, Peter Robinson, has been trying to find the Landie that his family owned when he was a kid in the Australian bush (that’s him in the passenger’s seat). He wants to find it, see it, drive it and write about it.

There’s a twist in the tale. This particular S1 (chassis RO6108381), in which the four pictured Robinson brothers learned to drive, was severely damaged in a bushfire in 1969. In 1987, the remains were sold for about £80 as wreckage. The buyer planned to restore it but never did, selling it instead to an unidentified person about a decade ago. After that the trail goes cold. Can anyone help Peter find the family Landie? It goes without saying that this is a special mission and a special S1. After all, it did teach the world’s greatest motoring journalist how to drive.

Wednesday

From Jonathan Palmer’s Motorsport Vision (MSV) comes the stirring news that Donington Hall, a handsome but run-down 18th century mansion house adjacent to the circuit, is to become a comfortable, inviting, 40-room hotel specifically designed for the needs of enthusiasts attending race meetings or track days. MSV also plans to convert a nearby office block (formerly the British Midland Airlines headquarters, because of its proximity to East Midlands Airport) into Donington Hall Motor House, where cars can be cosseted in perfect safety.

Knowing how MSV does things, I’d bet my house on it all being a fine place, but a quick and reassuring conversation with JP (he was “guiding” the architect on room layouts at the time) comforts me that members of the Morris Minor Owners’ Club will be just as welcome as millionaire buyers of supercars. The motor house opens this October; the hotel will be in action for the 2023 racing season.

Thursday

I’ve just made my longest day trip for a year, a 250-mile return journey in the Bentley Bentayga, from home in Gloucestershire to Crewe, with a diversion into the Malvern Hills on the return leg, because I never ignore that lovely part of England if I have an extra hour. The mission was to swap the Bentley’s 21in wheels and winter tyres for summer-weight Pirelli P-Zeros on the handsomest set of 22in diamond-cut alloys you could imagine. As someone who always tends to skimp on wheel size and cost (when visiting configurators, my other hobby), I was shocked at how beautiful and compact the new wheels made the car seem. Okay, they add £5000, but what the hell…



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