Land Rover 60 Years Celebrations in South Africa
Land Rover Owners Club of Southern
Africa (LROC) organized a very successful event to celebrate
the 60th anniversary of Land Rovers over the Easter weekend at the
Sandstone Estates near Ficksburg in the Eastern Free State
Province of South Africa. Sandstone Estates houses the Sandstone
Heritage Trust, which is a world renowned for its collection of
old mechanical and farming equipment and its collection and
renovation of steam engines.
Close to 100 Land Rovers started to
descend on Sandstone early on the Thursday of the 4-day weekend
from up to1000kms away. They ranged from the latest Defenders and
Discoveries to the early Series I, the oldest being a 1949
belonging to Luke Douwes from Honeydew in Gauteng. The oldest
vehicle that was driven to the event was the 1952 of Ian Simpson.
There was much ragging and teasing when Ian was asked how long it
had taken him and his wife, Amanda, to do the 300 odd kilometres
There were numerous other vehicles
of 30 to 40 year vintage that that were driven to the event. Most
of these vehicles are still in regular use by their owners, many
of who are about the same vintage as Land Rover. Some of these
vehicles have been fitted with different engines and have been
equipped as very comfortable campers.
By the evening of Thursday most of
the Land Rover owners had arrived and had pitched camp turning the
lush green lawns of Sandstone Estate into a vast tented village.
Some of the owners opted to sleep in the old train carriages that
are lined up along the camping ground. A wise choice for some as
on Friday night the heavens opened and rain poured down for a few
were several day trips to nearby places of interest and also to
Lesotho. The organisers had also arranged two 4x4 trails, which
proved very popular. The Moolmanshoek trail went through some
spectacular scenery with gullies, mountain streams and high passes
that had to be negotiated. The Didiberg trail was not as
challenging but did go through a game reserve which gave the
drivers and their passengers the opportunity to see wild animals
that are indigenous to this area. After the heavy rain on the
Friday night both trails proved very challenging and quite a few
vehicles required assistance.
Those that stayed behind had plenty
to do. Old friendships were being renewed and there was a lot of
reminiscing about trips done in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. The oldest
member present at the event was Ken Gordon in his early eighties.
Wulf Haacke the member with the oldest membership joined the LROC
in 1964 at the age of 28.
Heritage Trust had laid on a steam engine (a puffing Billy) with
passenger carriages to take passengers on a half hour ride on a
track which wound through the Estate. The train ride took many a
person back to the years when train trips from the highveld to the
coast were common and going to sleep in a sleeper to the sound of
the engine puffing up and down the passes of the Drakensberg
mountains. All of this while the first Land Rovers were rolling of
the production line.
If the fancy took you, there were
numerous large sheds filled with all things mechanical, some
dating back to the mid 1800s. The collection of steam engines for
various applications was quite incredible. It was interesting to
look at tractors, old cars and machines from the 1930s, 40s and
50s and compare them with the early Land Rovers. Other events
included a dinner sponsored by Land Rover South Africa, a communal
braai and photo shoot of all the Land Rovers present.
A memorable weekend of reminiscing
with old and new friends.
Photos courtesy of
Land Rover History - First Land
Rover made in 1948
HUE 166 - Land
Rover Series 1