Pictures: Clay Simon
Pictures: Clay Simon

Goodwood, Surrey - In the days before the basic Land Rover was renamed the Defender, when it was still the undisputed first choice of serious expeditioneers, James Cuthbertson of Biggar in Lanarkshire developed the granddaddy of all tracked conversions for the Series II long-wheelbase Landy.

Forget about the bolt-on kits with rubber tracks that are offered by a surprising number of suppliers in the United States to fit practically any 4x4 on the market; Cuthbertson’s conversion involved bolting a complete Land Rover (minus the wheels, of course) onto a full-length steel subframe.

The bolted-up metal tracks were driven by humungous fabricated steel sprockets in place of the original wheels and, without the seriously heavy-duty hydraulic assistance you can see in the front view of the finished vehicle, steering it would have been impossible for anybody smaller than the Incredible Hulk.

The whole set-up rattled and clanked like the ghost of Christmas past and, with just 54kW on tap from the standard 2.25-litre petrol four, top speed was limited to not much more than 30km/h - but that’s not what this practically unstoppable beetle-crusher was all about.

Even the proverbial immovable object would have had second thoughts when confronted with this thing.

In all, Cuthbertson built fewer than 20 of these big-footed monster Land Rovers; this is one of the first, made in 1958. It’s in remarkable condition, thanks to a recent full restoration, and will be sold at auction at the Goodwood Revival in September, where it’s expected to go for R850 000-R1 000 000.

IOL Motoring

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