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John Horne's Series IIA Land Rover Campervan

This is a 1971 Series 2A Land Rover Carawagon with a 2 ¼ petrol engine converted by Searle of Sunbury to a 3 berth expedition camper. The flock lined roof folds flat when the vehicle is on the move. There is a hammock in the roof and the bench seat converts into a modest double bed with storage underneath for camping equipment, spares and tools etc. The long cupboard down the side is for food, cooking equipment, fresh water containers, eating irons etc and the formica top acts as a work surface for food preparation and has a hand pumped water supply at one end. The vehicle is kitted out for serious overland travel with a Brownchurch roof rack, jerrycans front and rear, sand ladders, a Snorkel air cleaner, sump and propshaft protection and strengthened Military axles.

This Series Land Rover has had only one previous owner, Lady Sopwith-Pilkington who used it for her extensive travels in Africa and Asia in the early 70’s. Following her death the vehicle lay undiscovered in a garage for over 20 years until just before Autumn 2004 and the odometer reading of under 47000 miles at the time is believed to be genuine. The finder spent over £2500 just to get it through the MOT but at the end of December 2004 he decided to move it on before it cost him more money to restore. He alerted the Land Rover Series 2 Club and that’s how I heard about it.

I contacted Mick Outhwaite, Series 2 Guru and after a couple of false starts he sourced a fine second-hand engine. And so it was that early one Sunday morning a motley crew assembled in my drive. Big Dave, an AA Patrolman at the time, supplied the engine which he had whipped out of his vehicle the night before and with the help of Series 2 Club Members PKR, his son Kieran, Jabbawocky and Severe Brain Failure, an engine transplant was achieved in 5 hours. At 3 pm the starter whirred and the engine burst into life – job done. The total cost – bringing the engine down from North Yorkshire to Leeds, supplying and fitting it, including a new clutch plate, was just over £100 plus £20 subscription to the Land Rover Series 2 Club – money well spent.

Closer examination of the Land Rover and its contents pointed to its history and provenance. A sticker on the windscreen assured entry to Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, another referred to the South African AA and a badge on the bumper mounted toolbox showed that the owner of the vehicle was a member of the Saudi Arabian AA too. Items found in the Carawagon included a WD jacknife dated 1945, a canvas hip bath and two packets of Senior Service cigarettes, one still in its cellophane wrapper.

Several MOT’s later the vehicle still runs well and everytime I jump into it I have to make that agonising decision – is it to be Morocco….or Morrisons, the Sahara or Sainsburys?

Series Land Rover Searle camper van
John BACO (Born Again Carawagon Owner)

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Fascinating facts
(No.90)
The Forward Control IIB was introduced in 1967

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