The story

Overlooking the town of Dogubayazit on the border of Turkey and Iran

This following article is one I wrote for Land Rover Owner magazine, published in the December 1999 issue.

My friend Adam had this brilliant idea: when we finish university we'll drive his Land Rover overland to India.

Adam is a very creative and motivated person, frequently beset by ideas of pure lunacy, so I completely ignored him and went down the pub. But he wouldn't let go and, over the following few months, we started to make plans, devising vague routes and the alterations needed to his 1972 Lightweight diesel.

As the idea grew, it was decided that six of us would go on the trip, requiring a second Land Rover. At that stage, it still seemed like a pipe dream. We had nearly two years of university left at any rate, and it was bound to come to nothing. But a few weeks later I had a phone call from Adam: "I'm in Wales on a farm, I've found a perfect Land Rover you can buy; a 1966 Series IIA. It's 1500, shall I get it?"

The Land Rovers in the snowy mountains of Eastern TurkeyFreezing cold and in the mountains of Eastern Turkey

"Er, sure," I said. Three things were immediately clear at this point. One, the trip was definitely going ahead; two, I was definitely going with it; three, so were my life savings. There was no turning back.

Deciding that we needed some sort of aim for the trip, we made enquiries and were eventually put in contact with the United Mission to Nepal (UMN), that runs four hospitals in remote areas of Nepal. Each catered for half a million people and for many it was two weeks' walk from home. Through a drawn-out series of faxes (before we realised they had email) we found that UMN were in desperate need of a new diesel generator for one of its hospitals, as well as a complete stripdown and rebuild on three other 30-year old generators at a second hospital.

Deciding that this was ideal, we changed our destination to Nepal and set about trying to raise money to finance what was now becoming a fully-fledged expedition. We were immensely lucky to have the Rotary Club come to our aid, who provided funds for the cost of the new generator and all the spares - a total of 10,000.

Over the next year and a half at university, much of our free time was spent making plans, raising funds or working on the Land Rovers. Sam, our second Land Rover expert, took charge of the one I had bought, subjecting it to a chassis-up and engine rebuild. We had bought it with an old BMC engine, but the previous owner had thrown in a second dilapidated Land Rover which had a good 2.25-litre Rover diesel. This was the same as in Adam's Lightweight and would therefore cut down on spares.

The chassis on both cars were essentially sound, although a couple of outriggers and the rear crossmember had to be replaced on Adam's.

The Land Rover Homer stripped down to the chassisHomer stripped to the bone for his rebuild

From here, a variety of extras were added to both vehicles as work continued, to bring them up to scratch for the arduous journey ahead. Second fuel tanks were fitted as well as eight jerry cans on each, giving an estimated range of 1000 miles between fill-ups. Roll cages made from scaffolding were fitted to each, and spare wheels were installed on the bonnet and back of the cars. Each Land Rover was given a Fairey overdrive and electric cooling fans, taken from Arctic-specification Army 101s.

A vice was welded to the front bumper of one car, and a winch (and bottle-opener) welded to the other. Sponsors' stickers, meshes over the lights and exotic new paint schemes completed the "overland look".

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