This year’s Bob Marley’s birthday was marked differently. Amidst concert and milling in and out of crowd, something huge was hid under a wrap. It was a car, an unusual one, but which he would have glad to touch even in life beyond. It was the vehicle he treasured most, when he was alive, Motoring World’s Senior Correspondent, ROTIMI ASHER recalls..
[dropcap]D[/dropcap]uring his life time, the late Bob Marley was not someone, who could be refereed to as a car freak. He bought cars for different reasons. He bought a BMW, not because he loved the car or luxury it represented. He said he bought the car, because the name stands for Bob Marley and The Wailers. It was true. His most treasured vehicle was his 1976 Landrover Series III Pick-up. But for three decades, the treasure was treated poorly, left to rot awayat his Hope Road address, now a museum.
But the late music icon’s recently celebrated 70th birthday changed fortune for his iconic Landrover Series 111, which is now back in its old glory.
How did it happen?
Two years ago, Bob Marley’s children thought of what to offer him posthumously as a birthday gift, by February 6th 2015, when he should have been 70th years old. They chose to restore his Landrover. Early enough, the rusty car was moved to ATL Group, in Jamaica, who worked in conjunction with Land Rover UK headquarters to restore it to its former glory over an estimated one year’s time.
By February 6th, job had been concluded on the truck. While free concert and celebration was going on, the car remained wrapped until at a special moment, it was unveiled to guests, and hundreds of visitors.
According to a BBC Jamaican Correspondent, who was present at this year’s late Bob Marley’s celebration, when the restored Landrover was finally revealed, “it came as a bit of a surprise. It wasn’t a nut-and-bolt, chassis-off rebuild, the sort that’s becoming more and more popular with these cars, but rather a sympathetic restoration. It had the patina of age on the stainless steel trim pieces, but it was still Bob’s old car.”
Though ATL estimated only one year for the restoration, it took two years. But despite the challenge, it was something the team behind it enjoyed. Recalling how the job was done, Stephen James, a master Jaguar Land Rover technician for ATL Automotive in Jamaica said: “When we first saw the vehicle it was in complete disrepair, we stripped it and we rebuilt it from the chassis up.”
As if that was not enough, they faced a challenge of sourcing parts for the truck.
“We used a supplier in the US, Rovers North,” James recalled. “And they found us 80% of what we needed. There was no engine in the vehicle, so the power plant came from an import to the US that had originally been in Ethiopia. It seems appropriate.
Seeing their deceased father’s iconic truck in its old glory, the late Bob Marley’s children felt proud and pleased. Some even confessed having nostalgic feelings as a result of the car’s present state. Ky-Mani, one of at least 11 children the late singer fathered remembered the truck from his childhood. He recalled his father picking him up and taking him to his birthplace in Nine Miles.
“It was built in the year I was born”, he said, adding, “So it’s good to see it back up and running.”