With the kids off at university, the mortgage paid off and time on his hands since leaving the Territorial Army, Derrick was looking for something to help fill some of the spare time that he was now enjoying. During his 28 years of service in the Territorial Army (TA) with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), Derrick had driven many different types of Land Rover, but for him, there was only one model that really stood out from the crowd, the Lightweight (LWT). As Derrick says, ‘you can spot one in a field full of normal Land Rovers and they really do catch your eye, especially when stripped down, which is ever so easy to do and they are even easier to put back together again’.
It was by pure chance that Derrick came across an advert for the LWT back in May 2006 and unlike many others, this one was not on advertised on eBay. This LWT, being one of the rarer early Series 2A versions with the headlights in the front panel, has the added benefit of being road tax exempt. As well as being a ‘classic’, it is very simple with no electronics; in fact it hasn’t much in the way of electrics at all. Most parts are readily available, at a reasonable cost, as many of its components are common with the standard Series 3 Land Rover.
The LWT was located in Oldham, near Manchester, and as it was roadworthy, Derrick’s plan was to drive it back down to his home in Milton Keynes in Bedfordshire, if the sale went through. So, with cash in his pocket, insurance cover sorted and a willing accomplice to drive him the 200 miles north, Derrick and his Wife went to view the LWT. Following an inspection and test drive, a deal was done, cash changed hands and with a box load of spares thrown in, it was time to head off back down the motorway at 45 mph and with nothing more than a couple of fuel stops, they were home safely. Derrick did have to change the head gasket a few days later, but it may have been in need of this before the journey.
When Derrick bought the LWT, he only had the chassis number, but after a small donation to the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) Museum at Deepcut, they managed to trace the military history and sent Derrick a copy of the ‘B’ card which showed the military number as 40 FG 13, contract number WV7478 and vehicle designation – Truck GS ½ Ton 4×4, entering service in January 1969. The LWT served with 24 Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) between September 1969 and September 1971, it then moved to 15 Field Workshop (Airportable), REME from September 1971 to March 1976 and was finally transferred to Ruddington, for disposal, in June 1976. Derrick also contacted DVLA, and for another small fee, of £5, was sent copies of all the V55s since it was first road registered, in November 1976, with the registration VJX 580R. In 1990, the registration was changed to an age related number. Derrick is the 20th owner of the LWT, not counting the military.
When Derrick bought the LWT, it looked as though it had been used as an off-road toy. One of the two fuel tanks had been removed, the oil-bath air-filter had been replaced with a small pancake type filter and boxes had been fitted around the wheel arches to cover wider wheels. The 3-bearing engine had been replaced with a later 5-bearing engine from a Series 3 and there was also a mechanical winch fitted to the front. The LWT had also been painted about 5 different colours, the last being Infra-Red Reflecting (IRR) green.
Although the chassis is showing signs of wear and tear and has some areas of patching, it is still solid and as well as the previous owner replacing the upper section of the bulkhead, Derrick has had the front dumb irons replaced, as although repaired, they were still in very poor condition. Derrick removed the rear tub to replace the stiffening ribs, as the originals were only 40% complete, and he has replaced the canvas, as it had split where it had rubbed against the front hood sticks. Yet to fit is an original style air filter and Derrick is contemplating a replacement front lower bulkhead, although he is not entirely sure that it needs it.
Derrick has refitted the second fuel tank along with the correct fuel change-over cock. The extended wheel arches have been removed as has the winch, mainly due to its poor condition, although this may have been originally fitted whilst in-service with the REME workshop. Derrick has stripped the paint back to the original Deep Bronze Green and given it a fresh coat of this colour. Silver Hammerite has been applied to the original galvanised parts. The LWT is now pretty much as it would have been when in-service, but as Derrick says, after a few years service, particularly with a REME Workshop, there really was no such thing as standard. They were never built for show but for hard graft.
Derrick likes to use his LWT for fun around town, especially with the ’tilt’ off and even removes the windscreen and doors, if it’s a very good summer. He has thought about taking it green laning, but they are few and far between in the area where he lives. Derrick also sees the LWT as a good excuse to be working outside, instead of gardening, and describes working on the LWT’s level of technology as being very therapeutic.