October 2015 – missing the 109

Well, it’s now six months since I emigrated and I miss driving the 109. As good a car as the XC90 is, it doesn’t have anywhere the character and enjoyment of a Series Land Rover or even a Defender.  I write this sitting in a Bangkok restaurant; in the last six months I have visited the US, China, Honk Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Australia, several African nations and a few European cities, and I’m off to Australia again tonight.  Seeing the world like this is worth giving up the 109, but it’s be so much better seeing these places from its driving seat!

Being right hand drive is the biggest issue – I could only have it in the UAE for six months. They are coy about modified vehicles here, too, dispite there being many of them, so that could cause more import issues. I think that they turn a blind eye to mods on resident vehicles, but bringing in a modified car might be tricky.

I may have to take a visit to the local authorities to ask for a written assessment – if they’re ok with the overall hybrid nature of my 109, which has all LR systems and mostly Defender spec upgrades, then it may be worth considering importing it and swapping to LHD. That’ll need another PAS box bracket on the chassis, a left hand P38 box (should be easy to source locally) and the dash parts to swap the controls from one side to the other. At least I wouldn’t need to replace the heater with a lhd version, though modifying one with an aircon evaporator in place of the heater matrix might be a good idea for the summer.

I’m pretty happy here at the moment with the job and the new home environment, and the family are settling well, so if it continues to go well in another six months, I’ll look into it – it’ll cost about the same to ship out and back as the storage over six or seven years anyway.

I have met a couple of guys from the UAE Land Rover club. They’re a good bunch and have accepted me amongst their ranks even though I don’t have an LR with me, and have invited me on desert camp trips. I’m not sure the XC90 is up to it (and don’t want to damage it being new), and it’s still a bit hot and sticky out (still around 40-45deg), but I will take them up on the offer when it cools down.

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  1. I’m very pleased to hear that you’re enjoying life out there Nick but as a regular reader over the years I don’t half miss your posts. For selfish reasons I hope you get the 109 over!

  2. Lovely to hear from you Nick. I’m glad that everything is going well other than missing the 109″. Is it in storage or being used by somebody else?

    We had to SORN our 109″ for a few months earlier in the year as we’d spent all our cash on a new car and didn’t have the funds to do some urgent brake work. My wife and I really missed it even for just a few months. Thankfully she is now back on the road and also now finally equipped with rear seating for the kids so she is being used alot more as a family vehicle. We all prefer to go in the 109″ than in our modern hatchback. The only thing going for the hatchback is its rather impressive 55-60mpg economy and the performance of its little turbo petrol engine.

  3. Thank you both.

  4. Edward Parrott says:

    I’m not surprised you’re missing the ol’ girl Nick, couldn’t be without ours, even The 109, pain that it is!!! I don’t know how you cope out there, my odd week long visits are bad enough, could not be doing with those temperatures. Apparently it’s cooler when the ships I go to put to sea, I don’t get to go with them though – our insurance only covers us working alongside. Air-con is a must out there. Will have to try and meet up with you next time I’m out, maybe try and get on your plane too!

  5. It’s cooling down now for the winter, from the high 40s and low 50s to mid 20s. The air is a great deal clearer, too.

  6. You will have another problem changing from RHD to LHD. The steering will foul with the turbo. At least the standard steerig system.
    Here en Spain people have to sourde a Defender tdi engine if we want to do the engine swap. Or at least the turbo ancilliaries because it sits on top of the engine, not beside.

  7. Not an issue for me, given that I have Defender manifolds/turbo and power steering. It’s just the expense of sourcing a LHD instrument panel, fascia, hand brake lever, heater box and P38 steering box.

  8. The hand brake lever must be modified if you install a overdrive. At least a Santana overdrive. I had to do it.

    The series parts you need sshould be really cheap in junkyards.

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