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Articles By Mike Rooth


When I first bought the Land Rover, and for about a week afterwards the thing, frankly, terrified me, and anyone foolish enough to accept a ride. My wife was particularly vociferous on the subject. However, one day on the local bypass, approaching a traffic island, and being tailgated by some clown in a Ford Sierra, for some reason I remembered my long gone MG J2. I also remembered how this little beast could perform four wheel drifts round things like traffic islands. I was pretty certain the Land Rover *couldn't* perform this trick (don't try, you'll turn it over), but I flicked it round the island in much the same manner, taking the same line I would have used with the MG. The Sierra driver was a little discomfited. A trip out as passenger in a colleagues 1920 something Vauxhall 20/25 confirmed my view that the Land Rover owes more than a little to between the wars technology. My mate apologized for the ride quality, but I had not noticed it as being any different to what I was used to. It confirmed a long held view that for sheer truth of handling;a quality not much mentioned in today's motoring press;leaf springs and beam axles either end takes some beating. Perhaps the coil sprung machines are as good, but I cant comment 'cos I've never driven one.

As an aside, I have reason to believe that traffic islands are not a world wide thing. For those of you unfamiliar with them:- Draw a cross-roads, using two lines to represent the roads, one line for either side of the road. With a compass, draw two concentric circles, with their centres the middle of the cross roads. The circles should be big enough to intersect all four roads. Now rub out all the straight lines inside the two circles, and the outer circle where it crosses the roads. Instant traffic island, or roundabout. These thing can be just a circle of yellow paint at a cross road, in which case everybody totally ignores them, or can be quite magnificently huge, with grass, flower beds and even trees planted on them. They are also the place where your vehicle invariably gurgles and dies, causing a)acute embarrassment on your part, and b)consternation for miles in all directions as the island rapidly becomes clogged. They have also given rise to the quaint English direction "go straight across the island". To those of you abroad who contemplate a visit to this fair land, for heavens sake *don't take it literally*. The local authorities have this old fashioned view that grass shouldn't have tyre marks all over it. And anyway, you'll get stuck in the rose beds.

To the 88" driver these islands, if small enough, can be treated as a chicane, welly being applied vigorously at the apex of the circle, *bags* of helm, a la Nuvolari (look it up), and then enjoy the view in your mirror as Granny tries to sort out her dilemma, having followed you faithfully in her funny little motor. It is *most* entertaining if the follower happens to be a bright young thing in a baby Suzuki 4WD. 109" drivers usually approach with a little more dignity. Dixon please note.

Large roundabouts can be used to demonstrate the "stickability" of the Land Rover, going round in as tight a line as you can, increasing speed until you are hanging on by your outer rear wheel. The speed of this maneuver is usually limited by the factor of adhesion of the dog, who comes unstuck from his perch on the inside, and is propelled rapidly across the tub, to end up pinned against the other side, immovable. Be prepared for some *very* dirty looks from man's (erstwhile) best friend. Mine are now battle hardened, and can pull 6 G's with no apparent ill effects. For effects on following vehicles, see above, only more so. These maneuvers are an excellent way of disposing of the mother in law, should seat belts not be used, and the passenger door not closed properly, but *do* beware of the laws governing fly tipping of rubbish. We must, as responsible 4X4 owners, keep the environment tidy. Finally, and this applies mainly, I should think, on narrow English roads, have you noticed how roads you previously though were overcrowded, stretch away perfectly clear of traffic in front of you, since you bought the old 11A?


Last modified April 30, 2005. Copyright Dixon Kenner, 1995-202020
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