Land Rover in the Blood

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(Land Rover Monthly, February 2009)

Stuart Foley, born into the Land Rover trade, had his eye caught by this ‘Pulse’ – an unusual variant of the Wolf.

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Just the fact that you are reading this magazine is an indicator of how much Land Rovers can get into one’s system – but for some the bug is actually in their blood. Stuart Foley, of overland preparation specialists Foley Specialist Vehicles, is somebody who feels he was almost born into it.

Foley’s started in 1966, when Stuart’s father Peter started buying and selling Land Rovers and breaking them to sell for spares. The family had a transport business and, to quote Stuart: “one thing just led to another. He got doing some military vehicles, wartime Jeeps, but his main core was Land Rovers. We ended up being in Africa too, and doing overland preparation and conversions.”

Although he feels he has always been around the business, Stuart only formally joined the company about 15 years ago, though his brother Paul “has always done it, in it since the year dot.” Paul spent ten years in Africa handling that side of the business – and Stuart spent two years there too – but these days they own and run the company, as their father has retired.

The vehicle featured this month is a Defender 130 Pulse, the ambulance variant of the Wolf, which came from MoD disposals. It caught Stuart’s eye because this winterised version is quite a rare vehicle and he had never actually seen one up close.

He says: “It was a good thing to buy, even in a market like we are in at the moment when standard vehicles are hard to sell.”

Comparatively lightly damaged for a cast military vehicle that is under ten years old, the Pulse looks like it has been grazed by a passing trailer, damaging one of the rear doors and slightly crumpling the back left corner of the body – plus popping the windscreen as the box flexed. There is no chassis damage and, with only 25 thousand on the clock, it runs beautifully.

Stuart has already sourced a new rear door and reckons that if a buyer were to turn up tomorrow and say the wanted it brought back up to full spec it would take Foley’s only about eight weeks to repair and fully refurbish it. Though, of course, if the new owner wished to do the restoration themselves he would be happy to sell it as it is..

When I asked if he would consider converting the winterised Pulse for overland exploration, Stuart said he would rather not, as he feels being the first in private hands it should really remain in the configuration that it spent its service life.