Old Meets New At Uis: A Landy Affair

04 Sep 2016 12:10pm
By Francois Lottering

UIS, 04 SEP (NAMPA) - They came, they saw, and in true Land Rover style, went above and beyond.
If one of the many light-hearted jokes about the ‘Landy’ as they are popularly known, are to be believed, it might have taken them a little longer than the average driver to get there, but 110 Land Rovers made their way to Uis last weekend for the Namibia Land Rover Festival.
Landy owners are known for the value and nostalgia they attach to their cars. It is thus no surprise that the Land Rover Owners Namibia (LRON) club was established, who in turn organised the first-ever festival of its kind.
The car dates as far back as 1948 and since then, there has hardly been a role the vehicle did not fulfil as it was even used in wars and peacekeeping missions.
Landy fanatics go ballistic when they can lay their hands on older models, and if you own a model from 1948 like the Robbertse family from Kamanjab, you can consider yourself as being amongst the elite in the Landy fraternity.
The Robbertses’ Land Rover was one of the oldest at the festival, where some cars dated back to before windows could wind up or down or even before wipers were used.
The idea behind the festival was to have fun, share information and to discuss modifications and technical know-how to keep the vintage models on the road, since spare parts are not easily available for the older models.
Off-road driving skills were tested over various obstacles and as the majority of the Landy owners are outdoor enthusiasts, competitions like who could erect a tent the fastest and wheel changing added to the fun.
Only a handful took on the mine dump challenge, taking their Landies up a steep slope of loose sand mined from a pit. Although it seems doable at first sight, it was not easy as the climb was quite steep and with only loose sand, traction was not easy. But with skills and harmony between the owner and his Land Rover, a handful managed the obstacle. One of the drivers who did not make it told Nampa he lost momentum while going uphill and had no choice but to give up - something Land Rover owners rarely do.
As is to be expected, there was the comparison of the various models and how the car has changed over the years. The shapes and roles of Landies have changed drastically. To some the more modern shapes of the latest Land Rover Discovery ’16 model with its eight-speed automatic transmission, is not as eye catching as the first models built back then. The older generation was box shaped with huge gaps between the doors and body, and aerodynamics was not a factor.
Comparing the latest models with those who came from the production lines in 1948 is totally unfair, as safety and technology factors have changed drastically since then. Electric windows, power steering, central locking and drivers’ assistance to mention a few, makes life much easier for owners today.
Back then even the whole process of getting the vehicle into low or high range – in off-road conditions - was done manually. Today, the push of a button in an air-conditioned car that does everything to adapt to driving conditions, regardless of the terrain, makes life much easier.
One such owner, Toy Dippenaar hails from the inhospitable Kamanjab area and knows all about hardship and farming.
“Farming and Land Rovers go hand in hand,” Dippenaar said when asked about the role of the vehicles in farming.
Despite Land Rovers normally being seen as slow cars as they were initially designed for hard work and not speed, one of the main attractions at the festival was drag racing.
Spectators with mixed emotions were not disappointed as those who took part ensured that dust was kicked up and the roaring of some of the V-8 motors drowned out the spectators’ cheers.
Some of the more vintage models even went up against a few brave athletes who out-sprinted the Landies in the first few metres. The old faithfuls however overtook the runners at the finish line 100 metres away.
The weekend ended on a high note with a mass ride of the more than 100 Land Rovers through the streets of this normally quiet mining town the Sunday morning before all participants took on the long road back home.
One of the participants and organisers, Henry Bisschoff told Nampa the event was well organised.
“It was very successful and hosting the event at a town like Uis made it enjoyable for everyone,” Bisschoff said.
When the next Landy Festival takes place is yet to be decided, with the next club meeting taking place some time early this month.
But those who missed the festival can rest assured that there will be another festival in the near future.