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1963 109 LWB battlefield Ambulance - Camper Conversion For Sale


Meet ‘Winston’, a 1963 Series 2a 109 Long Wheel Base Land Rover. Before he demobbed in the early 90’s he served as a proud instrument of her Majesty’s armed forces as a battlefield Ambulance. Winston is a rare beast as his ambulance back is one of only about 1000 (first generation variants) built by Marshalls of Cambridge, half of which were sold to the Netherlands armed forces. Contributing to his rarity Winston boasts a petrol engine, greatly superior to its more common underpowered and unreliable diesel cousin which was fitted to later models (thanks to NATO regulations). I understand its possible to obtain records for the history of military vehicles but to be honest I haven’t bothered (between us I suspect Winston spent most of his service time with his feet up in some shed or other between occasional drills…). In over 50 years he has only rolled less than 50,000 miles, and about 6 of those were for me! As a military vehicle he would have been very well maintained and it shows to this day as he is a reliable runner.

Since demobbing he has passed through the hands of a select few, and enjoyed a brief stint being hired out as a retro camper van by (it was them who dubbed him ‘Sir Winston’… but we don’t bother with airs and graces here, so he’s just Winston to us.) Alas the neo-hippy wants to holiday in a VW bus, and so Winston found himself leaving Maidstone to join us up in Lancaster. He is my first Land Rover, bought half to serve as a family camper, and half in honour of my grandad who had and worshiped an old Series 1.

I quickly realised that his time as an army ambulance was behind him, and a life of fun and memory making for my young family lay before him. Hence a safari style roof rack, a few gallons of blue Hammerite and some daft Lucas switch labels! The transformation has been by my own hand, slow going, and isn’t entirely complete… but now he is probably better described as ‘a camper conversion’ – although that seems rather bland. I think ‘all terrain expedition camper’, or ‘festival wagon’ or better yet ‘adventure machine’ is far more apt. And for that he has been brilliant. We’ve had holidays all over the UK, from the flats of East Anglia to the highlands of Scotland. Twice have we been the envy of many a VW hirer at Glastonbury festival (you can’t drink cider in a deck-chair on the roof of VW camper, nor can they escape the mud via 4 wheel drive…) he was the removal van when we last moved house (sofas, beds, fridges, washing-machines and all) and yes, he has been my daily driver (in all weathers) for over 3 years – an adventure in itself. The old boy will just about tuck himself inside a standard size parking bay, making day to day use a lot more practical. He is always drawing admiring looks and complimentary remarks wherever we roam.

Winston the Land Rover:

Being a classic vehicle of a certain age, Winston is MOT exempt and Road TAX exempt, and classic vehicle insurance tends to be significantly cheaper than for modern vehicles. Being a long wheel base with an even further extended rear, the ambulance body sits higher on the suspension than usual to enable clearance when off-roading. In addition to this he is wearing his big boots (chuncky inner-tubed tires) giving a unique and playful Land Rover driving experience. There are twin fuel tanks, and military-style they are located underneath the driver and passenger seats in the cab. Filling both tanks costs about £70 and will give you a little over 200 miles of driving range. Unlike most ex-military vehicles, door locks have been fitted for the cab. I’ve added an auxiliary panel to the dash with two 12v cigarette lighter sockets and a couple of usb charging ports (because who can live without a phone or sat nav…) There is a map light, and an inspection lamp on a long cable that plugs into the instrument panel – and a spare lucas switch if you fancy adding another 12v device. The ignition is push start, and he starts consistently in all weathers. Its fair to say that in winter the heater is mostly decorative. There are 3 belted seats in the front, and additional unbelted passengers can be transported on the bench seat in the back. Due to the Landy’s age there are various bits of conflicting seatbelt law that do and don’t apply, my interpretation has been that you can have up to 8 passengers as long as each has a reasonable seat, that adults in the rear don’t require belts, that children under 12 should only sit in the belted forward facing seats in the cab and use boosters if applicable. The bodywork, bulkheads and chassis are all sound. He had a knock last year which dented a couple of panels and bent a chassis arm, due to his age the insurance company wrote him off as category s (structural) but I ‘purchased’ him back and had him repaired – he is now fully road worthy again (and I’ve had him MOT’d to be belt and braces about it) you just need to tell your insurance company that has happened. The ambulance back itself is made from aluminium and will outlive us all. The engine pulls well, and after a run up will comfortably deliver 55mph all the live long day. The gear box is solid and there are all the 4x4, high / low range, forward and reverse gears you would expect from a Landy, and you will soon become expert in the double-declutch manoeuvre as only 3-4 has synchromesh. Of course there is no power assisted brakes or steering, so you develop fabulous biceps as you pull all 2 tonnes of him round each bend by the nose. It is a joyful, physical, driving experience!

Winston the Camper:

Winston has all of the essential components required for a rough and ready campervanning experience. First and foremost there are beds! He is 3 berth (although when the kids were younger all four of us slept in the back together!) with a bench seat that pulls out into a double, and a removeable bunk above. All of the rear windows are tinted offering a lot of privacy during the day, so I’ve never bothered with blinds or curtains. I’m no carpenter but have dusted off the power tools and spent many hours creating the interior I wanted – building with great enthusiasm (but perhaps less skill). The camper electrics are a similar story, and whilst everything works a treat, it might be an idea to get them checked over by a professional yourself. I have built a large unit along the length of one side, this has four large draws, a double cupboard with shelves inside, a compartment for the 12v leisure battery, and a compartment containing a powered coolbox (and space besides for a few bottles of wine). Above is a little worktop space, a 12v cigarette lighter socket, and a couple of 240v sockets (with usb charging ports), the 12v control panel, some smaller shelves and a small florescent light at the top. My favourite bit is a cantilevered shelf which pulls out a metre or so from the base of the unit when the rear doors are open – this serves as a camping kitchen! There is a 240v hookup and fuse box concealed in the exterior hatches which is great when you are using a campsite with powered pitches. When off-grid, the leisure battery has enough juice to run the coolbox, the lighting and to charge a clutch of mobile devices for days at a time. There are half a dozen other storage compartments and hatches, and there is plenty of space on the roof rack to take along extras for your voyages.

When we’ve gone off exploring and wild-camping we have literally just parked up where we wanted to sleep that night, and that was that! We have slept like that atop the hills of the Peak District, besides the sea on the west coast of Scotland, and outside my aunts house in Stratford. We found that for brief stays at a campsite, putting a small gazebo over the back doors made for a perfect boot room and sheltered camp kitchen. Because he is 4x4 you can use grass pitches at most campsites even if all the hardstanding’s are taken. When we took friends and family with us, or when we were pitched up for days at a time in the Lakes, we used a much larger drive-away awning to give us 2 extra bedrooms and a communal living/dining area. (The gazebo and awning aren’t included in the sale.)

You clearly love it, so why are you selling it?

I do love it, and selling him feels awful. However my family is growing up fast, and 2 adults and 2 big kids just don’t fit in it like 2 adults and 2 little kids did. Winston shouldn’t be left unused under a tarpaulin somewhere to gather dust and seize up. The old boy needs regular exercise, love and adventure. There is scope to treat him as a restoration project, or for further modifications if that’s your thing – but equally (and to my mind preferably) you could just throw your sleeping bag and a tooth brush in the back and point him wherever you want to go that wheels can take you…
Price £11500 As stated
Ad Type For Sale
Category Classic Cars
Make Land Rover
Model Series 2
  Series 2a
Year 1963
Country UK
Region Lancashire
Town Lancaster
Telephone 07789 498133
Status Private
Date 11-Jan-2019
Ref C1070525
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