Vehicles of all ages and stages, makes and models are beginning to descend on Central Otago, in preparation for Wheels at Wanaka, New Zealand’s biggest all-vehicle show. One vehicle, in particular, is causing a bit of a stir; arguably the world’s most famous Land Rover; Oxford Series 1.
In 1955 two groups of students from Oxford University and Cambridge University embarked on the first overland expedition from London to Singapore. Land Rover UK was the principal sponsor of the expedition, providing two Series 1 Land Rovers, appropriately named OXFORD and CAMBRIDGE. Although commonplace now, occurring less than 10 years after WW2, a vehicle overland trip from west to east was unheard of.
Following the first overland trip, the Land Rover Cambridge disappeared somewhere in Africa, whilst Oxford was sent to a wildlife research group on Ascension Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean and disappeared into history. Some 60 years later, Adam Bennett, a UK property investor, undertook a lengthy quest to find what was left of Oxford, eventually salvaging it from St Helena Island. Adam negotiated an exchange of Oxford for a modern Land Rover and shipped it back to the UK to undertake a full restoration. Adam managed to retain the original body panels, stripping it back to its original decals and paintwork.
Tim Slessor, a member of the Oxford team, wrote a book about the trip called First Overland, which is well worth reading and 65 years later - at the great age of 87 - Tim Slessor was keen to complete the return journey in his beloved Oxford, which kicked off in Singapore and finished in London, December 2019.
The original route took them right across Iraq and Iran - Afghanistan, India, Burma using the jungle track called the Burma Road, Thailand, down the Malay peninsula to Singapore. The reverse trip was a huge success, so much so - no one wanted to stop. So Oxford set off once again on a world trip visiting the Americas, as well as New Zealand and Australia.
In November 2020, Oxford completed the Sea to Shining Sea tour from the west to the east coast of the USA. Oxford has now landed in New Zealand and is currently touring Jaguar Rover dealerships and Land Rover club events, ending at Wheels at Wanaka along with the New Zealand Land Rover Owners Club who will be holding their national rally in conjunction with the event. Wanaka is bracing itself to welcome over 100 Land Rover lovers to the region this Easter.
Oxford Land Rover's tour of NZ will be ending at Wheels at Wanaka this Easter, along with the New Zealand Land Rover Owners Club who will be holding their national rally in conjunction with the event. Wanaka is bracing itself to welcome over 100 Land Rover lovers to the region this Easter.
Land Rovers of all ages and stages are invited to join the convoys from all corners of New Zealand, plus many of these visitors will be joining the now sold-out Oxford Rally Safaris, with the lucky ones booked to traverse private properties including Pisa Range Traverse, Lindis Valley to Lake Hawea and Hillend Station.
Awarded Car of the Year at the 2020 Historic Motoring Awards, UK, Wheels at Wanaka is a great opportunity to see arguably the most famous Land Rover in the world.
Drivesouth is proud to support the Wheels at Wanaka 2021. To find out more about Wheels at Wanaka and get your tickets, visit their website below!
- Wheels at Wanaka, Photos by Kevin Isemonger