The Wild Goat Land Rovers of Iran
Tom – In 1955 two teams from Oxford and Cambridge drove from London to Singapore in two series 1 Land Rovers. They made a film and wrote a book called “The First Overland”.
In Iran they demonstrated their machines to the Iranian Army who promptly ordered a load. We were told that in the country districts you can still see some of these Series 1 survivors chugging up and down the remotest of hills. We have been looking and asking after them but according to most of the garages we have asked they have all finally returned to the earth. In the country districts there are however lots of surviving Series 2’s and 3’s and when you see the patched up state they are in it would be surprising if anything older survives here. Iran also built Land Rovers for a while under licence from Santana who in turn built them under licence from Land Rover in Spain. After the revolution the link with Land Rover was broken but they kept on building all the same out of a random selection of car parts.
The Iranian copy of the Defender is called a Paghan (Wild Goat) and was built here in Iran until 6 years ago. It looks like a Defender from the outside with the body and chassis made in Iran but I’m thinking blasphemous thoughts. Is it better? It’s certainly quieter and more powerful, with a Mitsubishi Pagero V6 3000 engine. It certainly burns a lot of petrol but when it costs 20pence a litre who cares. The running gear is from a Canadian Jeep Wagoner with coil springs. The dashboard is also Pagero but best of all they have somehow managed to get rid of the seatbox and fitted proper comfortable Peugeot seats. It seems faster, quieter and more comfortable than the real thing. However, Iranians fantasise that the British Defender must be by now miles better than their Wild Goat. Thankfully I think we have got away with this illusion as with the Defender now out of production, they will never find out!
There is certainly no doubt that Iranians love Land Rovers. Our 107” Station Wagon fascinates everyone. The Series 1 Station Wagon is one of the rarest Land Rovers. It is unlikely that there were ever any sold in Iran but wherever we stop we have a continues stream of admirers wanting their picture in front of it. We have even been the backdrop to a couple of wedding photo shoots. Although there are lots and lots of very patched up old cars in Iran, our car is certainly the oldest car we have seen so far. We have the date it was built written in Farsi on the back window and everyone is astonished by its age and that we have driven it so far. The most astounded are the people who actually drive these early series Land Rovers on a daily basis. “You must be a very patient man” one said as he looked me up and down, clearly wincing from his own back pain.