The First TransTerras

This article that I wrote was first featured on Speedhunters (

Early on a Saturday morning in October an eclectic group of Land Rovers began to arrive at the Paramount Ranch from various garages in and around the greater LA area. There was a tangible excitement about the event, and it was well deserved.

It now especially holds a unique place in everyone’s heart as just a few days later the Paramount Ranch was burned to the ground in the Woolsey wildfire.

Land Rovers, or ‘Rovers’, as they’re called by their owners deserve a different type of show to really be appreciated. That was the thought behind the inaugural TransTerras event, billed as a “Land Rover Love In.” Take the old ones, the Land Rovers with love and character, and gather them together in a location accessible and fitting for them to proudly display their heritage. This was the exact opposite of the traditional Range Rover show taking place on the streets of Hollywood just a short drive away.

However, even at this first event there was already a striking similarity to another car show, one that started as an LA institution and is now branching out around the world: Luftgekühlt. Similarly to the air-cooled fest, there was more time taken to arrange the vehicles in a narrative story than your typical parking lot gathering. It also allowed for a slow walk through time to see the entirety of Defender history before that story is rewritten with the new upcoming model from Land Rover.

When people first walked onto the set of Westworld and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, they were treated by the old guns. The Series. These vehicles were the original Land Rover. The ones meant to be your best tool on the farm and your transportation back into town. They originally laughed at the question of balance between form and function. To them there was only function.

Case in point: the Zambezi cooler. This is just a leaky water bag used to evaporatively cool the air hitting the motor in hotter climates. It needs constant refilling, but it works.

There are very few differences between a Series I, II, and III. For those uninitiated I’ll give you a few pointers: The first two both have headlights recessed in the middle between the fender arches, but the Series I seems a little more like a tractor than all the rest; the window sills are all over the place instead of forming a straight line. The II and IIA clean up a little bit with straighter and more consistent body lines. Finally comes the III, where the headlights are pushed to outside the fenders. There’s many more differences but from 15-feet away that helps to get you in the ballpark.

Further in were the Defenders. The transition from tractor to more of a multi-purpose vehicle, this is where we begin to see much more variation and alterations from owners and build shops. If you stood in the center and spun in a circle you could see small two door Defender 90s, ex-military vehicles, and full-blown off-the-grid machines.

We also started to see a little bit more of an LA influence from a recreation of a James Bond picture car, with the appropriate LS swap. There was also a crowd favorite from the Portugal based shop Cool N Vintage. These rigs are the real deal, broken down and rebuilt into something who’s quality could easily be compared to the likes of Singer Vehicle Design.

Further out back were the gatherings of Range Rover Classics and Discovery IIs. These, the last of the solid axle Land Rovers.

Overall it was a day of storytelling, fittingly in a place that was used to film stories of adventure across the wild west. Maybe it was the last event this iconic film set felt it needed to tell before being rebuilt into something new; a poetic similarity to the very same Land Rover Defender.

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