"The latest Land Rover Defender is just the latest in a long line that can trace a direct descent from the original Series 1 designed by Maurice & Spencer Wilks way back in 1947. Although some things have changed a lot over "
Land Rover: All Terrain Collective
We spent a precious few hours breathing the air with members of the All Terrain Collective – exploring how this community of Land Rover lovers are dealing with imposed isolation.
“I used to just drive little nippy motors,” says Alex Shepherd.
“But my boss had a Land Rover and was always going off having adventures. And I began to see there was something in that. I wanted to be part of it.”
Alex, who is 33 and lives in Cambridgeshire, is the proud owner of Fiona The Defender – a lightly hopped up Defender 90 adapted to be a go-anywhere, camp anywhere home-from-home. Together with a handful of like-minded folks he has formed the off-road collective – dedicated to the practicalities, community and aesthetic of off-roading —with style.
“It’s such a different vibe to other car scenes”, he tells me.
“Everyone is drawn together by these cars, and everyone wants to help.”
Community matters. And in these trying times, it matters more than ever.
Alex came together with Alec and Matt recently for the shoot. They made tracks. They splashed mud. They socially distanced from everyone, including each other. But this was precious time. And of course, great for mental health.
“Being able to just get in the car and go anywhere you want to is the real appeal for me,” Alex says.
“I suppose you could do the same in a van, but most vans can’t go to the places we can go – and they don’t offer that same sort of driving fun or that kind of rugged style that appeals to us, either.”
Land Rovers might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re interested in having a real machine to play with, they can’t really be beaten. And light adaptations mean that you can cross-hatch your dreams of ‘vanlife’ with those of real off-road adventure. It’s an appealing mix – and the idea of mobile safety in the time of zombie apocalypse is strangely appealing.
Alec, who is another member of the collective and owner of a 110 wagon, concurs.
“Being able to turn a spanner is definitely helpful when you own a Land Rover”, he says.
Originally from the US, he spends his days fixing aircraft for a living. Land Rover off-roading has become a pleasing kind of busman’s holiday.
“There’s always some new squeak or rattle”, he says.
“And there’s always something to fix. But if you have trouble there’s also always someone to lend a hand. That’s what the community is all about.”
There’s something about working on a machine that you can not only drive anywhere you want to but also live in, that makes it extra special. You develop a real connection, something visceral in engagement with spanner and bolt. There’s no telling where the relationship might lead.
“I can go so much further, deeper into the wilds than other people,” says Matt Small, the Discovery-driving member of the collective out today.
He’s relatively new to off-roading, but it’s already created a real shift in his life.
“I’ve met so many people through having this car,” he says.
“It’s given me so many many experiences. I’ve been all over these islands – and you can be self-sufficient and get off grid with everything you need.”
Matt’s advice to anyone tempted to find community and a touch of freedom through these cars?
“Just stop worrying and get yourself one. It’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make.”
Images, Alex Shepherd and WXVE.
CLICK TO ENLARGE