We’ve always owned old Land Rovers on the farm. When I first arrived in 1993 it was all old Land Rovers up here – and few of them, only one in Lime Tree. During the building of the guest cottages, dining area and our own house – ‘old grey beard’, a petrol engined version from the 80’s brought virtually all materials from the surrounding hills and Kingston – for the money (and fixability) very few vehicles could have achieved this – and it’s still going strong at another farm further up the mountain. Roads up here are very rough – and occasionally worse than that. We need a bullet proof vehicle, built to tackle these conditions, designed to be fixed in the field – exactly what Land Rover was designed for. Big Blue is a 90’s diesel version we’ve owned for around 10 years, capable of carrying 9 persons, lugging coffee, manure, building materials – and then hosed out and left to dry in the sun. Completely reliable with zero electronics – for me, that means I am able to fix it. I need to be able to see moving parts, the bigger the better! Yes, a bit more hands on maintenance than a modern vehicle – but very low running costs and a fraction of the cost of new. There is also the generational difference, I was brought up to fix things rather than rush to buy new. We carry some new spare parts – and a lot of old/worn parts for those ‘Frankenstien’ repairs – we never throw anything away – this encourages innovation, problem solving, blood and guts engineering, grazed knuckles and some swearing. If you care to look, there is a lot of chat on line re keeping old vehicles against buying new, lower emission vehicles, there is an argument, I agree – but does it really make sense to get rid of an old vehicle covering less than 1000 miles a year and buy new given the necessary resources and cost to the earth? Mine is largely a pragmatic decision (and a little financial, whole bag of money on a depreciating asset!) – It makes more sense to us to own older vehicles that are more basic, more sturdy, designed specifically for a hard life, need less special tools and more basic maintenance. Apart from the cost of a new vehicle, parts and servicing costs, there are other considerations – fixability, waiting for parts, warranty issues, what if it breaks down – how do we get it to the dealer? or drops into the dreaded ‘limp’ mode? I’m an old biker, always found driving dull and given the general bad roads (and bad drivers) in Jamaica there is very little pleasure driving here – with one exception – chugging around the mountains in Big Blue. She’s old, a little smokey, a little uncomfortable, noisy and hot, and that’s the rub, I simply love operating old machinery.
As they say up here – Landrover, hard fi dead.