Mini-Feature: Overlanding History Through A 1966 Land Rover IIA

There are many parts that make up the whole of off-roading. Recently, at the Extreme Conditions exhibit at the Petersen Automotive Museum, the curating team chose an interesting British example to represent the Recreation side of off-roading – a 1966 Land Rover Series IIA. But this Land Rover had more than met the eye.

Showcasing a Dormobile conversion kit, the SUV was an interesting throwback to the 1960s. It sported a rooftop tent and interior sink/stove/wardrobe closet/etc. In essence, this Land Rover was what an overlanding build looked like back then. And since it was practically a precursor to the off-road trend that now dominates builds in the 21st century, we wanted to share what went into this Land Rover.

The star of the show is the Land Rover's Dormobile conversion kit, installed back in 1966 by Martin Walter, Ltd. in Folkestone, England. It includes this pop-up tent, as well as an interior kitchen and fold-out cots.

We reached out to the owner, Jack Weidinger, to get the full scoop. “I’m a lifelong car guy,” he began. “I grew up around cars owned by family and started my own personal collection. Some of them were inherited. Others were bought and added to the collection, like the Land Rover.”

In 2017, after establishing a new dealership in Freeport, New York, Weidinger set out to find a flagship vehicle to commemorate the occasion. His search eventually dug up the Dormobile Land Rover on BringATrailer. The seller shared the Land Rover’s history, starting with its original owner, Herbert S. Veltmen.

Restorations in 1987 and 1993 fixed up the Land Rover’s interior, mechanical issues, and paint job. In 2017, Weidinger took care of fuel system issues as well. “I could spend $150,000 or more fixing up the vehicle, but it would remove the history within it,” he said.

Veltman was 72 and a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan when he first purchased the Land Rover. It had already undergone the Dormobile conversion at the time of purchase, which was evidently rare; less than 1,000, reportedly. Martin Walter, Ltd. in Folkestone, England was the company that installed the kit.

Veltman took the vehicle on several expeditions. He drove the IIA through Europe and into Africa for the first safari hunt. On later expeditions, he visited Alaska, Costa Rica, Canada, and other far-flung locations, all from the comfort of his British SUV.

In its early days, the Land Rover's original owner, Herbert S. Veltman, took it across the world. He drove around in Africa, Alaska, Costa Rica, Canada, and other locations.

In 1977, Veltman sold the Land Rover to another resident of Grand Rapids, who owned it for another 40 years and used it mainly for daily driving and some occasional hunting/camping trips. It underwent a restoration in 1987 and 1993 to take care of mechanical and cosmetic issues, respectively.

Since buying almost four years ago, Weidinger has driven the Land Rover sparingly. “It spends most of its time on the showroom floor,” he said. “It starts very easily. In fact, it started on the second crank after sitting for 10 months in my showroom.”

“To drive it is to love it, in that it is an acquired taste,” Weidinger continued. “It does everything slowly and deliberately, but gets the job done. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of driving a John Deere tractor.”

For a workhorse that spent its early life traveling the world and sheltering its owner in the wilderness, it’s fitting that it now gets some much-deserved rest and relaxation. And who knows? Perhaps when Weidinger feels the need to do some exploring himself, he’ll call upon the trusty IIA to get him there.

About the author

David Chick

David Chick comes to us ready for adventure. With passions that span clean and fast Corvettes all the way to down and dirty off-road vehicles (just ask him about his dream Jurassic Park Explorer), David's eclectic tastes lend well to his multiple automotive writing passions.
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