The Difference an Expert Makes!

As the date for the big trip draws nearer, I realise how fortunate I have been to have had David Lovejoy in my corner. I can’t emphasise enough how much he has helped me. And if I had met him earlier, I would have saved thousands of pounds/dollars!

I got to know David through the Land Rover Addicts forum, but not until after I had committed to have a Defender prepared for me by Patterson Off Road (Colin James Patterson) – a decision that still haunts me to this day. David is known for his expertise with Land Rovers, winching and overlanding and writes a regular column in Land Rover Monthly magazine. He is also qualified to teach off-road driving techniques and I had booked an off-road driver training session with him for 2012 when I went over to collect the first Defender – now known as Nightmare!

As it turned out, Colin Patterson had spent the majority of the money I sent him on other things – and certainly not on the Defender! When I went to collect it, it was an empty shell! Without a drivable Defender, I had to cancel my off-road driver training. I also had to rent a car for my first camping trip to Europe because the Defender was in no fit state to be driven. I turned to David to help me out of the predicament that I had found myself in.

The first task was to get the Defender out of the hands of Patterson so that I could get an independent assessment of just how bad things were. David put me in touch with Matt Neale, a top-notch Land Rover mechanic and I had the Defender trucked to Matt’s for a thorough inspection. It was much worse than I had anticipated so I decided to start from scratch, rescuing whatever parts I could from Nightmare.

This time, I did it the right way (and wish I’d done it this way from the beginning, as it would have saved me a lot of money). Matt didn’t have the time to build me a new vehicle so we turned to Causeway 4×4 in Bridgwater – a garage with a very strong reputation that was tried and tested (and highly regarded by David). The next task was to find a good solid Defender as a base for upgrading. Relying upon David’s knowledge and connections, we turned to Sam Storey of Millin Trading and bought my second Defender – a 1993 110 200Tdi County Station Wagon, after it was inspected by David and given the thumbs up. Being located in Bermuda, I couldn’t just pop over to England to inspect vehicles, so having an expert like David take on this task was incredibly reassuring. Both Defenders went to Causeway 4×4 for the work to be done.

I consulted with David regularly via e-mail as we fine-tuned the different upgrades that would be made to the second Defender. Based on his advice and experience, the specs for the vehicle were adjusted to ensure that I got a reliable overlanding vehicle. Once again, David’s knowledge of Land Rover equipment was tremendously useful. For example, I had no idea which suspension springs were the best for my application – but David was able to recommend the correct parts. And so it went with many different upgrades. Bounce ideas to David, listen to his advice and make a decision. Lots of new bits were purchased and some parts were transferred from Nightmare until we had a completed overlanding Defender that we could both be proud of. The contrast with Nightmare was so such that David named the second Defender Sweet Dreams – although I’m still trying to decide between Sweet Dreams or K8 (Kate), or possibly Dreamy Kate or Sweet Kate.

Having spent five weeks with the Defender this summer, I am extremely happy with her. Everyone who has driven her has commented on how well she drives. And I finally got to do my first off-road driver training with David in the vehicle. He’s a great instructor and certainly knows his stuff! I am scheduling a few days before the 2014 trip to get more off road training with David and, hopefully, some basic Land Rover mechanic training from Matt.

But the assistance didn’t finish with the completion of the vehicle build. After the 2013 trip, there were minor tweaks required and David is overseeing those for me, driving the vehicle to the various garages/workshops to get the work done for me. And rather than letting the Defender sit unused for several months, David will be taking it on regular short drives to keep everything in top working order. I’m so lucky to have this kind of support over in the UK whilst I am several thousand miles away in Bermuda.

Having an expert advise me and take care of things on my behalf has made such a difference this second time around. Everything has gone perfectly, thanks in huge measures to David Lovejoy. I would recommend him to anyone who is contemplating having an overland Land Rover built. Get the services of an expert. It makes the world of difference.

David is in partnership with a team of five others, all experts in their fields, to provide guidance and training for overlanding and vehicle preparation. Matt Neale (mentioned above) is one of the team members, as is Arjan Haanstra (who has also provided me with valuable nuggets of advice along the way).  I heartily recommend Off Road Preparation as leaders in overlanding and expedition vehicle preparation. The Off Road Preparation website is www.offroadpreparation.com

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