Born Free In a Land Rover
Story by Karl Bhote, photography by Makarand Baokar
Now here is a curious case–the subject of this feature forms part of a rather enviable collection in Bombay. This includes numerous Mercedes, an imposing early Packard and even a pre-war Rolls and Bentley. Rubbing shoulders with these exotic classics, many with royal pedigree, are a fleet of humble, utilitarian Land Rovers. The owner, Mr. Viveck Goenka, being a true petrol head lavishes equal love on his ‘accessible’ classics, and the stunning restoration job on this trademark green 1957 Series I SWB speaks for itself. Acquired in rough condition, this Series I went through a complete ground-up restoration. Many parts were fabricated in house–including the complete doors, bumper, and petrol tank–and the end result is superb.
We had a blast driving around the outskirts of Bombay shooting the workhorse–putting her through her paces just as she was meant to be. The alacrity with which the Land Rover performs sixty-five years after conception still amazes us, the stiff ride clearly set up for rural roads, or the lack of them. Great ground clearance coupled with this short wheel base chassis makes small work of the off road trail we chose, and we ventured off the beaten track for good shots, while secretly picturing Elsa the lion perched atop the Land Rover in the 1966 cult classic Born Free. While today one treats this Land Rover as a collectable car, we can’t help but imagine exactly how faithful a workhorse this car was at the time. So good infact, that you can still buy one. Just. By the end of next year, after sixty-seven years in production, Land Rover will produce its last Defender closing an extraordinary chapter in automotive history.
If you’d like to see more on Land Rovers check out our new video, here.