For many years I have wanted a Jeep, presumably my interest in the vehicle was awakened after watching so many war films and episodes of M*A*S*H as a child. In early 2005, my finances were finally in a position to make the dream possible, and a search of the internet came up with many importers. What I didn't know at the time was the last auctions of French jeeps was in mid 2002, and the prices and availability listed on many websites were out of date by several years.
|I finally tracked a Jeep down to a dealer in Scotland, which also happened to be the most local supplier to me. In February 2005, my wife and I took a three day break in Scotland, conveniently near by to the dealer, and went to see the jeep.|
The garage who imported the Jeep had fitted new brakes; as the brakes tend to seize in storage. The two batteries have also been replaced as this is a 24 volt Jeep. There are a few rust holes, but the basic mechanics were sound and the engine purred sweetly.
Here's the Jeep as first seen in February 2005, with the Army bumper registration painted out and still carrying the auction lot numbers across the screen. Several accessories were missing, but the basic structure was all intact.
We spent the weekend phoning around other suppliers trying to compare prices and availability, and concluded it was a good deal, particularly with regards to the convenience of collection. At the end of the weekend, we went back and paid a deposit. We also asked for the Jeep to be re-sprayed into Olive Drab as I don't currently have the facilities in my workshop. This would also make the Jeep immediately presentable for any military vehicle shows in the VE Day 60th Anniversary year.
|I intended to drive the Jeep back from Scotland but decided a towing frame was needed too, just in case, but I also want to be able to tow the Jeep to any events out of the local area too. Due to the weight of the jeep, it would need to be braked on tow, so I designed a tow hitch that would connect to the Jeeps own brakes. The hitch bolts to the bumper mountings on the chassis.|
|The great day finally came on Saturday
April 16th '05. All the paperwork had come through, so collection was arranged.
Lynne and I arrived at the garage in Scotland at 2:15pm. After the payment and
ownership paperwork was completed, the plates were fitted, fuelled up and then
all ready to go.
We set off for home about 3:15pm. I drove the jeep, with Lynne following in the Xsara, for about a mile then we pulled in for some pictures and so I could add several layers of clothes!! Here I am with my leather flying jacket on, before all the fleece lined clothing was added.
The first twenty miles were along some very winding roads, so the speeds were kept down while I got used to the handling and brakes. Lynne drove close up behind the Jeep, stopped quickly and before I drove on too far, took a couple of "Action Shots"!!
As can be seen by these two pictures, there was a slight rain shower, but only enough to justify a quick test of the wipers. We made several stops on the way home for food and drinks, but also to give the engine a break from my driving. The first break was at Dumfries, followed by a second at Gretna, just on the border.
We stopped again near Haltwhistle, had another drink, and took a couple more photos, this time showing me in my winter driving survival kit.
Near 6:30pm, we stopped for a meal, and by complete chance, bumped into one of my university classmates from 15 years ago! After a chat and exchange of addresses, Lynne and I were on our way again. After four and a half hours, including stops, the 135 mile trip was over and we were home, tired, but happy.
After we unloaded Lynne's car, we
dropped the top down on the Jeep, and then pondered whether it would actually
fit in the garage. We had done loads of measuring on our February trip, but it
was going to be such a tight fit, we never really knew for sure. Having already
carpeted the wall to protect the paintwork, the Jeep fitted with about 1 1/2
inches clearance each side.
Miles of room!!!!!