Book tip | Landy Love – Friend and partner
Business card, therapy, hobby – House painter Mike McDougall considers his Landy as much more than just a company car. He not only has his Land Rover to thank for new jobs, but also for a new zest for life.
Mike McDougall will always associate his 1967 Land Rover with the key turning point in his life. The Scottish painter has had his pal with four wheels for the past twelve years. He has also dedicated the same amount of time to beautifying houses in Perthshire. The purchase of his Land Rover also signalled a new beginning. “I wasn’t always a painter”, says the friendly Scotsman.
Mike McDougall trained as a butcher and was employed as a meat inspector until he received a shocking diagnosis at the age of 37. “In 2004, I was found to be suffering from a highly dangerous disease. That threw me off course. I had to undergo several operations and had numerous trips to convalescent clinics where I had plenty of time to think about how I wanted my future life to be.”
Mike decided it was time to make a change. “I always enjoyed working with my hands. Working as a painter would allow me to remain at home while also having regular contact with people. And at the end of the day, I’d still be my own boss.” And so the decision was made: Mike became a self-employed painter. Having the proper vehicle is part and parcel of this kind of job. “Anyone could arrive in a white delivery van. It doesn’t really make you stand out. And it’s also not much fun. As many of my customers live in the Perthshire mountains which can be snowed over at times, I bought this 1967 Series II for 450 pounds. I can go anywhere, at any time, during any season.”
The county doctor’s Landy
Mike’s 88 had spent more than 25 years on a farm in Perthshire prior to being purchased. The Land Rover had belonged to a country doctor who had used it for house visits. McDougall had to remove six layers of paint before he could use his 88 for the first time. “Imagine a colour and it was there. Navy blue shone through at the very bottom, a classic 60’s era colour that I really liked.” The roof and the rims were contrasted in line and from then on Mike’s business name and telephone number were prominently displayed on all three doors.
Ever since, the Series II has reported for duty as a painter’s van, day in, day out, in Comrie at the foot of the Scottish highlands Everyone knows him here and recognises him immediately. Mike often gets new jobs when he’s out and about. “People don’t even need to ring, they recognise my Landy and call me over”, he says. Since the car has been repainted, it’s much easier to see its original detail such as the rivets around the petrol tube and at the rear. “That had all been covered up with colour so that you could no longer recognise any of its original features, I didn’t want that. Now it looks just like the doctor ordered”, says Mike.
Today, we are meeting him and his Land Rover at Drumonie House, one of Comrie’s largest houses. Mike is here to paint the entire outer facade of the building and the sunny weather is just perfect for this task. He has his cherry picker with him, a platform that allows him to reach the highest roofs in the village. The vehicle lift has been attached to the front of the Land Rover by means of an extra coupling. That allows Mike to reposition himself with ease. It also means the tow bar stays at the bottom, whereas two booms guarantee that the stand doesn’t tip over. The cherry picker is also marine blue, of course, to match Mike’s other lifting equipment.
“As a painter, my team must stand out visually, that’s my business card”, he says. It is only from above that we realise just how short an 88 really is. It’s only 3.62 metres in length, making it almost 20 centimetres shorter than a new Mini and about the same size as the first Volkswagen Polo. It’s generous enough for painter Mike as he only behind the front seats there is only space for storing goods, i.e. plenty of room for paint buckets and tools. The long ladders go on the roof, anyway. The roof rails tell a story of their own. Unlike the car, they have already seen the Sahara. The previous owner had them built especially to cross the African continent and sold them to Mike upon his return, which he mounted onto the 88.
Original Series II Landy
The Series II still proudly displays the face of the original model with its internal headlights that us 60’s kids are so familiar with from the ‘Daktari’ TV series. The headlights later moved to the wings which, in the 88 version, only had to include the blinkers and the side lamps. Riding up front next to Mike are a row of spare headlights, which he bought on the aftermarket and attached in a manner that stayed as true to the original as possible.
The square icon is displayed on the right wing. “Original”, says a grihttps://www.classic-trader.com/uk/cars/search/land-rover/88?make=101&model=2043nning Mike. The symbol bears the marks of countless falling stones. “The radiator grille can be removed and actually used for a barbeque. I’ve not done it yet.” The left wing bears witness to a dent from a skirmish with a local delivery van, which ran into Mike’s unmoving Landy. “I was really annoyed as he drove into me while reversing. It was an old car, anyway, no big deal”, said the crash pilot, curtly. My response: “That’s an original, you can’t get them anymore.I decided to leave it as is, otherwise I’d have had to paint the whole thing again from the start.”
The 2.25-litre four-cylinder petrol engine sporting 80 hp is quiet and relatively comfortable. So much so, in fact, that from the end of the fifties they were built into the Rover P4 limousines. “Nowadays, all Defenders run on diesel”, says Mike, “they’re loud and you can even hear them from far away”. The petrol ones consume more but they are quieter and more pleasant. And I don’t have far to go.”
The 88 has only churned out a total of 86,000 miles in the past 49 years. Around 100 miles are added to it every week. Mike sometimes brings his young dalmatian Poppy with him, a truly beautiful but timid dog. The black-and-white dog parks herself on the passenger seat from where she presides, enjoying the scenery. “If I’m away for a long time and there’s no one at home to keep an eye on her then she’s allowed to come with me, as long as she sits in the car. And when she’s had enough, she simply lies across the bench at the front.”
After work and at the weekend, Mike enjoys dedicating time to his hobby; old cars. He also owns a 1967 MGB, in addition to the Landy. His father still has two old Jaguars, a 3.4-litre saloon and an Mk IX. Father and son enjoy looking after Mike’s Land Rover together. “We don’t need to do much”, says Mike. “The mechanics are very robust. You just need to change the lubricant regularly, then everything stays in working order.” Mike’s father Terry views the old Land Rover as a wonderful counterpart to his two luxurious limousines. “Everything’s so simple”, enthuses Terry, “easy to get to, recognise and maintain.”
When Mike’s had enough of four wheels, he gets on his Honda Gold Wing. The Gold Wing, which unsurprisingly, has been painted a special shade of gold, almost gives the impression of being as futuristic as a spaceship when it stands next to the Land Rover. Mike knows how to appreciate both. “I never want to go without my Landy again. I bought it back when I almost died. Work on the Land Rover also really helped my soul. Now it’s one of the family. So much so that my kids have already called dibs on it when I’m no longer around.” Mike locks the door and drives away. He has to stop again as he turns onto the main street. Someone has recognised him and offered him a job. Mike grins at us, waves and cries: “See what I mean?”
“Friend and Partner” was published in the book „Landy Love since 1948“ by Nadja Kleissler at Delius Klasing. Numerous other exciting, varied and not least emotional stories from all over the world can be found in this picture and story book for every Landy fan to read, laugh and dream about.
1. Edition 2017
Price 59,90 €
Landy Love is available at your local bookshop or directly from Delius Klasing.
Text Axel E. Catton Photos Lynn Duke
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