Back to the Article Section
To unveil the refurbished QE I proved to be a more difficult maneuver than you would think. Obviously all the guys at the shop wanted to see Jeff's reaction, so everyone had to be in the right place at the right time. The Rover had to stay inside the shop, undercover, so that Jeff couldn't see it, and we were on vacation for the next few days. So how do you make sure to get the ECR crew, Jeff and the truck all in the same place, at exactly the same time, so that this hand over can take place? Keep in mind that Jeff has been around ECR since the start, so he normally would just swing by when he had time if we told him his truck was ready, but this time we needed a date and a time. We thought up all kinds of ideas that copied what they do on some of the TV shows. We could tell him the truck had been stolen, but that wouldn't work because it couldn't be driven. We could tell him that it got damaged somehow and that he needed to come down and talk to the insurance guy, but that was deemed too cruel. Most of the ideas were pretty lame and might backfire on us. Finally we came up with a good one. About once a year, one of the local TV stations in our area will come by to do a small piece about ECR to fill up time in their 5:30 news casts. If we told Jeff that they also wanted to interview a Land Rover enthusiast, who wasn't part of the company, we could likely get him here at a certain time to "meet the TV crew for an interview." We made a quick call to Jeff and he agreed that he could swing by the shop on Tuesday to "meet with the TV crew."
So everything was set. The ECR crew would get here before Jeff and we could just act like the TV crew was late and shoot the breeze with Jeff as usual. The only glitch now was that Jeff usually heads down into our storage yard and takes a look at his Rover when he stops by, so if he did that, and found that the 88 wasn't out there, what would we tell him? There really wasn't any good answer to that. So we parked a few trucks in the way of where his 88 had been sitting and crossed our fingers that he would just come into the shop, and not go visit his 88.
Luckily it worked, Jeff arrived on time and went straight into the office. We gave the normal holiday greetings and best wishes back and forth and then informed Jeff that the TV crew was running behind and that he would just need to hang out for a little while.
After a bit of conversation, and some ribbing about how his TR7 did in the last snowstorm, Jeff asked us when his 88 might be patched together. He expressed that the TR7 wasn't the best winter car and that if anything could be done to get the 88 road ready, that he would appreciate it. We had to change tracks quickly, so we assured him it was in the works for just after the New Year and changed the subject. We then went into the shop, and as we are always showing Jeff our latest projects, we brought him to the front of the covered up Rover you see in the picture above and said, "You should have a look at our latest project, we think it is pretty cool." and with that we rolled the cover back to expose Jeff's fully refurbished Series IIA 88.
Jeff immediately recognized the QE I license plate and drew back a huge gasp. His hands covered his face and he began to mumble the obligatory, "Oh my word!", "Holy $^%!" and "I can't believe it!" that one would expect.
For a few moments Jeff hung around the front of the truck, without much to say. We'd assume this would be the definition of the phrase "drinking it all in".
Once the initial shock started to wear off, Jeff started to look around at the details of what had been done. He commented on how much he loved the new sills, and then bent down to to inspect them. At this stage we think Jeff was under the impression that we had done the accident repair and some paint work to his Rover, because only when he bent down did he notice the new suspension. We could hear him say the words, "and parabolics too!" between the "Oh my words." as he bent down more to look over the suspension.
Bending down, quickly turned into laying down as Jeff caught a glimpse of the new galvanized frame that now supported the Rover. We heard a shallow gasp at this point and a faint, "Michael what have you done?" As Jeff got back on his feet that was when the crew of ECR stepped in and started to describe the 88. We let him know that Rovers North had donated the chassis and numerous other bits, and then Ian started to take Jeff on a tour of the improved QE I.
First up was the new engine bay and the stainless radiator support from John Gerding. Then the new battery, dual power brakes, stainless steel brake and clutch lines and more. As you can see from this point forward the huge smile never left Jeff's face.
On the passenger side Ian pointed out the new Mansfield heater and all the bulkhead work, the new seats and all the other goodies.
Once on the drivers side Jeff started to notice things like door locks that actually lock and close easily and all the interior trims.
At that point we told Jeff to get behind the wheel and he noticed the banjo steering wheel. He'd been shown a lot of the details of the Rover and just had the surprise of his life, and it was starting to sink in.
Jeff began to tell us the story of how he had bought a banjo wheel for the 88 many years ago, but the seller had neglected to tell him that the steering column itself was different for the 2 types of steering wheels, so he could not use it. He also said how upset he was knowing that the correct banjo wheel would likely never grace the QE I.
That was about the point where what had just happened fully sunk in. Jeff rested his head on the steering wheel of his newly reborn Series IIA 88 and had a brief moment.
Once he emerged from the Rover he thanked each one of us and then stood back to admire his rebuilt pride and joy.
After a few more minutes of showing Jeff all the new tricks on his Series IIA we took out the digital camera and scrolled through the images of the last week, where the 88 had gone from stubborn beast, not wanting to go into the shop, to refurbished 88 awaiting him undercover. He said he was amazed at what could be done and commented a number of times about how he couldn't believe that it was really that bad underneath.
It doesn't look so bad anymore, and there are no problems lurking underneath either.
We wish you well in the Rover Jeff, and another 400,000 miles.
There is only one thing left to swipe from one of those make over TV programs...
His name is Jeff Aronson, and these guys just "Rover-Hauled" him!
After the delivery of the 88 Jeff sent us a letter, and we thought you would enjoy it as well. It reads:
Mr. Michael Smith
East Coast Rover
21 Tolman Road
Warren, ME 04864
If I thought I possessed any savoir faire in pressure situations, I demonstrated otherwise last week when you unveiled my refurbished Land Rover. I screeched and howled as loudly and shamelessly as any person appearing on the Prize Patrol advertisements. Thanks to East Coast Rover and Rovers North, I'd been "Roverhauled."
My greatest shock came when, after admiring myself in the shine of stunning paint job sprayed on the car, I did a pushup or two to look at the underside. As I released myself down below the sill, I spied the gleaming silver of galvanized metal. It contrasted nicely with the bright yellow of the Old Man Emu shocks and the jet black of the parabolic springs. I pushed myself back up and remember gaping at you, slack-jawed. You, Ian, Steve, Mike, Debbie and your folks looked like the cats that had swallowed the canary! After 14 years of ownership and 400,000 + miles of driving, the QE I had been renewed mainly in drivetrain and routine maintenance [that is my backside on your website, right?]. Except for the assault by a horse, the structural components had largely remained untouched - until now. The changed bulkhead and new frame, with the Series III brake booster, dual circuit brakes, a new steering box, halogen headlights and driving lamps, provide me with a safer vehicle for the next 400,000 miles.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he lives in Maine. I've been a customer of East Coast Rover since you started in business. ECR stands out among Land Rover competitors for its professionalism, its enthusiasm and its direct knowledge of the vehicle and its heritage. Your knowledge, enthusiasm, high standards, mechanical and driving abilities make my involvement in Land Rovers as fulfilling as ever. Your many gifts to me will be appreciated for as many years as I can drive my Land Rover.
For six days you labored and on the seventh day you rested; I can't wait to drive "six days on the road" to show it off. Thanks to all of you for your support and generosity. Meanwhile, please consider yourselves in doughnuts for life.
Jeffrey B. Aronson
Here are some images of the finshed 88. Compare these to Day 1!
As it is now winter here in Maine, Jeff had us install the hardtop for his 88. As you can see in the completed image below, the QE 1 is now a proper and corrcet Station Wagon, and it is ready for what we hope is another 400,000 miles.
Because of their generous support of this project, These people need to be thanked for their efforts:
The staff of East Coast Rover:
Rovers North, Inc.
1319 Rt. 128
Westford, VT 05494
Eastern Tire & Auto Service
70 Park Street
Rockland, ME 04841
John Gerding/ For Rover For Ever
12 New England Power Road
Wilmington, VT 05363
Click the days below to see the progress of that day. These pages have lots of images.
DAY 1: THURSDAY
DAY 2: FRIDAY
DAY 3: MONDAY
DAY 4: TUESDAY
DAY 5: WEDNESDAY
DAY 6: THURSDAY
East Coast Rover Co.