1955 Land Rover Series 1 Station Wagon
Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition – The First Overland
In September of 1955, two Land Rovers and six students from Oxford and Cambridge University started a journey that was to become The First Overland. This journey would last six months and cover over 18,000 miles – the longest land journey possible at the time. The purpose of this journey was for academic research. However, after teaming up with the BBC and Land Rover for sponsorship, the journey also included the goals of collecting interesting video footage and being an ambassador for Land Rover products.
The journey relied on two Series 1 Land Rovers; one painted in light blue for Cambridge and the other painted in a dark blue representing Oxford. These two Land Rovers and six adventurers traversed 19 countries including England, France, Monaco, Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Malaya and Singapore. The results of this journey were a book, First Overland: London-Singapore by Land Rover, and three BBC films narrated by Sir David Attenborough. The journey also gave birth to a motoring icon – Oxford.
At the end of The First Overland, Oxford was returned to Land Rover where it was enlisted into service for other sponsored expeditions. In 1957, Oxford was finally loaned to the British Ornithologists’ Union where it was shipped to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic to research sea birds. After years of faithful service, Oxford retired into personal service and was moved to St Helena Island and fell into disrepair.
In 2017, a marvelously eccentric Land Rover enthusiast from Yorkshire, England, Adam Bennett, was able to track down Oxford. He worked a deal with the current owner of Oxford to trade it for a more modern Defender. After the deal was done, Oxford was transported back to England for an extensive refurbishment. Old parts were renovated whenever possible and replaced only if needed. It took just six months to get Oxford back on the road.
The Last Overland
With Oxford back on the road, Adam, the current owner, wanted it to continue its journeys and explorations around the world. A plan was hatched to have Oxford make the return journey from Singapore back to London in what was to be called The Last Overland. In August of 2019, an eight-person team comprised of members from the UK, France, USA, Belgium, Indonesia, and Singapore traveled back through 23 countries over 115 days and completed the return journey. More details from this journey can be found at https://www.lastoverland.com/
Oxford In America
In 2020, the 65th Anniversary of the original First Overland journey, Oxford continues its journey of exploration with a tour of North America. With the help of the Rover Owners Association of Virginia, Oxford arrived on the shores of the east coast of the United States in January and began to travel westward visiting Land Rover and overlanding enthusiasts’ events along the way. Once it reaches the west coast, Oxford will drive back eastward along the TransAmerica Trail – a 5,000 mile network of dirt roads through the back country of the United States.