The end of the Defender

Submitted: Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 10:56
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I'm a bit surprised there has been no thread here in the last week or so since the announcement of the cessation of manufacturing of the Land Rover Defender.

Surely there must be some lingering fondness out there somewhere for the vehicle, the original iterations of which are what got us out into the bush to start with. I mean Holdens and Falcons got us just so far but the Landy was what you really needed to get away from it all.

Come on, let's hear some yarns about the old Landy.
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Reply By: Old 55 - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 11:01

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 11:01
Having owned three of the early Landrovers, series 1, 11A and series 3 I have fond memories of changing broken axles on steep climbs and pulling a busted diff out at Cape Palmerston (yep I carried all the spares in an ammo case in the back and the spare axles behind the seat). Changing a clutch was a nightmare just to get the box out and in the end I fitted a 202 Holden motor to the series 2 to get it to perform. The series 3 belonged in the rubbish bin straight out of the box with it's stupid half side valve half overhead six cylider motor. The only airconditioning was to open the front vents and so if you were following a mate the whole family alighted covered in dust and grime. The only good thing about the Landy was you could get inside with the hose and get all the dust and mud out which was a good thing cause it had virtually no dust sealing. Admittedly the Landy went everywhere but then so did the Toyota. The best thing I ever did was buy a Toyota. The 60 series Landcruiser was airconditioned, had power steering, was virtually unbreakable and comfortable. What more can I say.
RIP Defender.
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 13:52

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 13:52
Plus was relatively water proof in river crossings :)
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 11:46

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 11:46
Having owned a Series 2 personally, had a couple of rellies that owned them, and worked on more of them than I care to remember, I reckon that the main reason for their demise is that the various manufacturing mobs that owned the marque, didn't move with the times.
From my perspective, the original concept worked just fine. Simple, no frills build, asthetics taking a back seat, so to speak, approach, worked well in the earlier years. I must say this concept suited an old fart like me. Unfortunately the competition moved past that, and I suspect the attraction of combining ruggedness with creature comforts didn't get a mention at the designing table. Reliability may have got an honourable mention and that's about all.

I gotta confess, most of the offerings from Toyota, Nissan, etc, might pip the old Landy in the comfort and reliability stakes but one thing they never had that the Landy had in spades.


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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 17:56

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 17:56
Owned a IIA SWB ute in the 1970's. Loved buying the accessories: wiper for the passenger side, window and door locks, cabin light. Ahh the crash bang and rattle, OK for half an hour or so but a couple of hundred km, no thanks. Did a clutch plate coming out of Cow Bay near Cape Trib, the whole centre ripped out. Dad had an engineer mate who ran the Cape Trib store who showed me how replace it without removing the gear box through the cab as the cross member was welded and you couldn't drop the gearbox. Learn't lots about repairs. The contrast to my 23 yo Maverick couldn't be more stark.
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Reply By: TerraFirma - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 11:59

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 11:59
Sad to see an icon go but lets be realistic from the makers view, volumes were simply not there and we move on.
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Reply By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 12:36

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 12:36
I only ever had one - a Series 3 long wheelbase trayback ute with the 4 cyl petrol motor. I bought it second hand for $1,000 at a farm clearing sale in about 1980 and had it for about 10 years of great performance mixed with sheer unreliability. You could never be guaranteed of going anywhere and actually getting home again without it overheating or breaking down somehow.

But for all that, the thing that really gave me the irrits the most constantly, was the 2 acre turning circle. For a vehicle conceived, designed and built in a small place like Britain where tight confines were the norm, why a better turning circle wasn't top and centre in their thinking was always a mystery.

I often think the wonder of the Defender, is that they've only just discontinued in 2016, a full 25 years after its use-by date, I'd have thought.

For all that, I don't reckon there's ever been a 4by put its power onto the ground as well as the old Landy. We had a 4x2 prime mover with a bogie semi that we carted grain with and it often got stuck in the sandy paddocks and the best way to get it out was to give it a bit of a nudge from behind with a tractor. Or the Land Rover, which worked just as well without having to go and get the tractor! How a crappy old thing like a Landy could push a semi-trailer laden with 20 ton of wheat out of a soft sand bog never ceased to amaze me. Landcruisers couldn't and nor could the other 4by we had, an International Scout (which WAS truly the WORST vehicle I ever owned, but that's a whole nother story!)
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Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 14:21

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 14:21
As someone wrote a few years ago when they were looking for the oldest Land rover still running, the Rover never got stuck it just " failed to proceed "
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 18:52

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 18:52
"............truly the WORST vehicle I ever owned........." :-)

Won't disagree with that!

While they might not be the worst vehicle ever produced, Paul, they are definitely a long way ahead of whatever's running second in the "Worst 4WD Vehicle Ever Stakes".


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Can't remember most of it.

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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 21:48

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 21:48
Couldn't agree that they were the worst 4by in terms of off road capability, but one did tend to spend as much time under as in. Another quirk of mine was a dicky slave cylinder. Despite a rebuild, s/steel sleeve every now and then it would shxx itself and leave you with no clutch. Fun in Brisbane traffic. Quickly learnt to start in first gear with clutchless gear changes usually up to third until I could find a quiet side street. Just at your left foot was a plug that gave you access to the slave cylinder and bleed valve. I carried the required ring spanner in the dash tray, a couple of pumps and viola you had a clutch again, top up at home. The wiring was also in poor condition with some of the loom melted, every now and again you'd lose the ignition power. Mine had two outlet sockets on the instrument panel. I carried a wire with an alligator clip one end and a plug the other, hot wire from the wiper motor positive to the positive socket and the ignition was live again until it magically resolved itself. Drove a series III on an oil exploration crew, it had the common jumping out of 1st gear problem, the timing gear stripped and finally the chassis cracked at the bend. Hopefully the bulldozer operator buried the blanky thing. We also ran diesel cruiser tray backs that the juggies really thrashed along the lines with no dramas except the usual motor vibrations which caused the rh indicator light assembly to fall off and the weld between the running board and mudguard to crack.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 21:11

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 21:11
I use to be a "juggie" (also know as a geo-phone installation technician:) - Horizon Exploration - Gibson Desert ~1980 - never heard/seen anyone use the term for nearly 36 years...Don't recall any Land Rovers though :)
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 21:52

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 21:52
While looking for work as a Chemist I took a job for GES in 1979 as a chainman and also did the 'permitting' (visited the cockies before we moved into an area). Only the poor surveyors had to put up with the one Land Rover. The company was based in Rocklea, Brisbane and had crews in the Simpson and another that I worked on in western Qld - Roma, Injune, Carnarvon Ranges, Charleville area, Emerald, Rolleston. Contracts were for Aquitane I think. Party Manager was Rod Fett, Observer went by the name of 'Motormouth' and the Geophysicist 'Sponge' can't remember their real names. I reckon few people could have harder work than the juggie, literally running up and down the lines especially when reeling the cable onto the cable reels harnessed to the chest. Not sure what modern ohs would make of the tasks! The Powder Monkey drove a 3 speed swb Datsun 4wd with the short exhaust that came out under the drivers door, easy to make backfire which he did to great effect - engine off, angel gear down the hill and then ignition back on just as he reached a mob of drillers or juggies, the resulting boom and the sight of a vehicle full of plastic explosive scared the **** out of you.
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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 13:03

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 13:03
For sure, lingering memories, having owned three.

Okay, yes, you’d think I would have learned my lesson after the first, but I must say, the first was okay, the second was a disaster and I’m actually sorry I sold the third which I wrote about in a blog titled...

Red Rover - A Tale of a Landrover Make-over

Oops, Mrs Landy is looking over my shoulder and has that look in her eye that suggests “don’t you go getting all sentimental – our bank balance has only just recovered...”

Vale, the Landrover Defender, mostly fond memories for me, and even fonder memories for the people that looked after them (I'm sure), after all those oil leaks must have helped their superannuation balances grow over the years!

Is there a Landrover Industry Super Fund?

As a footnote… “Baz - The Landy” came about as a consequence of owning three Land Rover Defenders, but as you can see this has now changed and yes, I've recovered fully!

And whilst I'm reluctant to refer to the new vehicle as “The Landy” that’s for sure; the owners’ of either brand would never forgive me!

But “Baz - The Landy” reference has stuck, so “Baz - The Landy” it is…

Cheers, Baz – "The Landy"

Oh, in case you are wondering, I never used that shovel (on the back of The Landy) to dig “The Landy” out of a hole, it was there for me to dig myself a hole to hide from Mrs Landy in, whenever it went off to the workshop…

A case of, hit the trenches Baz!

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Reply By: Allan B (Member, SunCoast) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 15:24

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 15:24
I have never had my backside in the driver's seat of a Defender so unable to make comment on that model.
But I did trundle a Series 1 around the Woomera Range for a few years. Dreadful thing. Hopelessly underpowered, rattled like a bunch of tin cans in a cement mixer and sucked dust in like a vacuum cleaner.
However, the Survey teams, Missile Recovery crews and even Len Beadell went all over the place cross-country in them so who was I to complain...... I was in elite company, even though I secretly yearned for the FJ ute that preceded the Rover. They were both stinking hot in summer but the Series 1 was incredibly draughty in winter. Who cared, I had a job of roaming the bush and being paid for it!

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Reply By: garrycol - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 16:12

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 16:12
It is not really dead - it is just that for marketing reasons the new vehicle will have a new name - just like as has been done in the past - the Landrover 80/86/88/107/109 became the Series 2 (there never was a series 1) and then the Series 3 - than back to just Landrover (wheelbase) and then the Defender - all just names even though the vehicles changed.

Really no different to the change that will be from Defender to whatever the new vehicle will be called. The new vehicle will be different but will still at its heart fulfill the same role as the Defender and its predecessors.

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Follow Up By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 17:24

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 17:24
There was a series 1 - about 2" gap between the front and back wheels LOL

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Follow Up By: Member - Paul B (WA) - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 01:24

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 01:24
That's not right Garry - there will be no replacement vehicle. You'll now be able to get a Discovery or a Freelander. No Defender or Defender replacement.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 08:13

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 08:13
Thats not the Landrover community understanding.

There is a new vehicle being developed - there are artists impressions all over the net. The new vehicle will most likely be based on the Discovery platform and placed to fufil a role that the Defender took.

Pick a design. The new DC 100.
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Follow Up By: Michael H9 - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 18:42

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 18:42
You cant get a Freelander anymore. The Freelander 2 was a fantastic car but has been dropped after 9 years for the Discovery Sport, essentially the same car with different panels and trim. The Range Rover Evoque is the same as well.
There has been talk of the Defender replacement for a few years now with LR keeping everyone in suspense.
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Reply By: Member - Trouper (NSW) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 16:52

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 16:52
Ran around the bush in them for 18 years in the army. And that's what they were good for. They had a 4 cylinder Isuzu turbo diesel which I must say was pretty good The Army called them a Perenti.They were fairly 'soldier proof' no comforts and no computers.
The problem I found was that the driving position was very close to the door and so constantly banged my elbow. They were never meant for touring,noisy and dusty. In fact even the Army has given up on them. Gone to some Mercedes over engineered thing. I bet they will be sorry with those.
I know the civvy mechanics the Army employs to repair their vehicles OMG they will be well out of their depth.

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 17:29

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 17:29
Had old landy for several years and never had any rust due to all the oil leaks.

Was in one in King George Square in Brisbane when the axle snapped. Just put it in 4WD and drove home to change the axle.

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Reply By: The Explorer - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 19:23

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 19:23

Not a Defender as such but I have only ever owned one Land Rover (109) and still have it. Has never broken down and has no oil leaks. Purchase price $1:00. Just lucky I guess.

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Reply By: Member - Odog - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 20:20

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 20:20
My old man, told me a story from up on the snowy, about a bloke who had to drive from 3 mile camp (kiandra) to Adaminaby, got stuck in the Eucumbene River, when he managed to get out, took his wet socks and boots off.. When he arrived at Adaminaby, they had to keep pouring warm water over his foot, was frozen to the throttle... Hard life up there in winter... We had the land rovers when we lived in Africa late seventies early eighties, when ever you would go out of town, always two vehicles, most times when we would get into trouble, one winch would give up on one.. And the other vehicle, the winch would work, but wouldn't engage four wheel drive.. So a two wheel drive with a winch, and a four wheel drive with no winch, spend the day trying to just turn around, up to the axles.. But never had one not want to start... Odog
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Reply By: Ron N - Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 23:46

Tuesday, Feb 02, 2016 at 23:46
Never actually owned a Defender - but the earlier Landrovers were just dreadful things.

Highway work with them was painful. If you got 90kmh out of them, you were doing well. 100kmh sounded like you were about to start breaking the sound barrier.
The problem was, you couldn't hear yourself think at those speeds, because of the engine noise, the road noise, and the rattles and bangs.

They rode like a dray, they broke axles faster than I could change my shirts, they were so gutless, overtaking was nothing less than a suicide mission.
The brakes were absolutely shocking, the seats bloody awful - and they were just plain agricultural.

They rolled over at the first opportunity with an inexperienced driver. The door seals had more gaps than a comb. The door seals only lasted 5 mins, such was the shaking and movement of the doors in the frame.

LR bodies were totally rust free - but the chassis rusted instead. The first you knew of this was when the chassis broke in half.
The chassis held corrosion-inducing moisture and mud in at least 20 points along it.

Unless you carefully pressure-washed the chassis regularly and ensured it was dry, it would corrode - horribly - and you couldn't see the corrosion until the chassis fractured on you.

About the worst of any vehicle ever manufactured for total inaccessibility of components.

If the cooling system got rusty, the core plug at the rear of the block corroded through and dropped all the coolant on the ground.
Guess where that plug was located? Yep, right against the firewall!
You had to either remove the engine or cut a hole in the firewall to replace the plug.
Guess how many old LR's are running around with a patch plate on the firewall??

We fixed the gearbox removal problem that was caused by the gearbox cross-member being welded in position - by cutting the cross-member out - and welding on attachment plates to the chassis and the cross-member.
These plates were drilled to take 5/16" bolts - and hey presto! - we had a fully removable cross-member!

In the Australian Army, the LR was King. The AMF bought them because no-one in the Defence Dept knew what a good 4WD looked like - and besides, they were BRITISH! - so they had to be good! - What Ho, Chaps!

In 'Nam, the AMF actually utilised a 106mm recoilless rifle in a SWB LR! It worked O.K. up to a point - until you started to give the 106mm a good workout - and then the LR started to fall apart!


The Defence Dept didn't really care what LR running costs were. They bought them because the British Defence Agencies used them - and us Aussies had to have compatible equipment, old chap!
Couldn't have the disastrous experiences of WW2 repeated, could we!
We had 117 different vehicles during the War! What a schemozzle for Logistics that was!

I am utterly amazed that the Landrover has actually lasted this long in production. I'm sure it was because Defence Agencies kept buying them, because it was a tradition - nothing else.

Despite all that, I bought my 1st Landrover in 1967 - a 1960 Series II traytop petrol 2.25L 4cyl - and it did sterling service for the largely paddock work it carried out.
There wasn't anything any better to buy, back then, anyway! Jeeps were dreadfully overpriced and just as agricultural as the LR.

The Landrover I bought had 34,000 miles (55,000kms) on it when I bought it, the motor did about another 30,000 miles (50,000kms) before it just got plain tired - so a 186 Holden was slotted in.
That improved the performance a bit, but it did nothing for fuel consumption.

However, the old Landrover excelled in pure grip on the ground. It regularly hauled around a 1000 gallon (4500 litre) 4 wheel articulated fuel trailer, from job to job, through deep sandy paddocks and mudholes in Winter.

Then one day, the truck pulling the low-loader, broke an axle whilst climbing a hill on a gravel road, hauling the Cat D6 dozer.
This rig was a late 1950's International R190, single drive, and the low-loader was a tandem axle modified ex-WW2 tank carrier!
The truck weighed 4 ton, the low loader weighed 8 ton, and the Cat D6 weighed 18 tons!
All-up weight, 30 tons! (30,490kg).

We only had to go about a mile (1.6kms) to reach a gate in the paddock where we were to start work, anyway - so rather than risk road damage by unloading the Cat, we decided to see if the Landrover would pull the broken-down low-loader the one mile up to the gate, where we could pull in, and unload.

We backed the Landrover up to the truck, attached a chain, selected 1st gear low range and took up the slack.
Gunning the Landrover, she scratched and scrabbled at the gravel, and dug a bit of a trench - but the low-loader and dozer moved off!
Selecting 2nd low, the Landrover gained more speed - then it was into 3rd low, and we were cooking with gas!

The Landrover wheeled the low-loader straight in through the gate and pulled it up to a level spot where we could unload.
It was a sterling effort, particularly seeing as the initial start was on a grade of about 7 or 8%.
The old Landrover finally retired to the farm and died there sometime in the mid-80's.

But guess what! - I still have a complete, excellent condition 1979 Series III LWB diesel panel van sitting on blocks in my workshop!
It's just awaiting for the motor to be re-installed, so I can take it along to vintage motor shows - and show off just how primitive 4WD-ing used to be! [;-)

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Shaker - Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 23:03

Wednesday, Feb 03, 2016 at 23:03
I reckon Len Beadell might have disagreed with some of the comments here, he managed to blaze some pretty iconic tracks in his, which I am sure that plenty here have driven & are quite appreciative that he & his trusty Landie made the effort!

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Follow Up By: Ron N - Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 02:33

Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 02:33
Shaker, I seem to recall Len doing a number of Landrover repairs in the desert - but I'll wager he largely skipped over the worst of them, too!
Being a Govt vehicle, he wouldn't have had to fund any repairs out of his own pocket - as most of us do!

I recall one of his stories being how they utilised a tree fork and a jack, as an improvised press frame, to press the shaft out of the Landrover water pump, so they could replace the seal!

I also recall how he found the Landrover full of sand and dust after any major dust storm hit him!
That wouldn't happen to a Toyota! [;-)

It would be interesting to know the total number of actual miles he did - I think we'd be surprised at how few it was, compared to modern travellers. He did get a huge amount of aerial resupply and backup.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 08:09

Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 08:09
I currently have a Toyota Prado & it's the worst dust sucker that I have had to date!
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Reply By: Peter B70 - Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 09:20

Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 09:20
I suppose it is one less vehicle to tow out of the bush worked on them drove them towed them would never own one . worked on just about every model of 4wd Bought one that i did the least work on.Peter
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Follow Up By: Gramps - Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 10:13

Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 10:13
Haha are you going to give us a clue Peter ?

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Follow Up By: Peter B70 - Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 13:25

Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 13:25
easy nissan patrol gu 4.2 turbo diesel actually my second nissan my gq was sold with 550 thousand ks it cost me a clutch and service items lent it to my son then only had visiting rights so bought this one:))
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 10:21

Thursday, Feb 04, 2016 at 10:21
I think the demise of the Defender was announced months and months ago.
I wouldn't mind betting it goes back into production in India, but without the emission & safety ratings required for the rest of the world.

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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 07:58

Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 07:58
Like Royal Enfield motor cycles!
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Follow Up By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 13:09

Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 13:09
And the 1956 Morris Oxford, and the treadle operated Singer sewing machine, all still in production, and all almost just as they were.
I almost bought a Singer when we lived in Fiji. A truly beautiful thing.

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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 15:44

Friday, Feb 05, 2016 at 15:44
Singer treadle machines are as tough as nails and versatile. My mother made everything from lined corduroy jackets to a sewing the canvas panels for the back of my Land Rover.
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