Back in the early 1960's my parents idea of a great family outing was to load up the three kids and a picnic lunch in the family Ford Country Squire station wagon and head for the North Georgia mountains from our home in Atlanta.Typically we'd head for the NE corner of the state with the goal of trying to get lost in the dirt roads in the mountains and find a good spot to enjoy a picnic lunch on the side of a creek.After a day of exploring back roads we'd always stop at the Dairy Queen in either Clayton or Cleveland for an ice cream cone. My sister absolutely must have a stop at Dairy Queen scheduled in any road trip to this day.
Dad was pretty adventurous with the Ford wagon and would keep going until the car just couldn't go any further up the rough mountain roads that we loved to explore. We only got stuck once that I remember and with the help of all of us pushing and mom driving we were able to get the Ford turned around and headed back the way we came. A rear quarter panel suffered a good sized dent after an encounter with a tree during the process but at least we made it out of the woods intact.
On one trip in 1964 we had been exploring a nice little single track Forest Service road in the Warwoman area of NE Georgia. We carefully forded the first two stream crossings but at the third the road took a definite turn for the worse with a slick clay bank on the far side and steep climb up the hill beyond. Dad waded across the stream and decided that we were as far up the trail as we could go so we turned around and headed back for our traditional ice cream stop in Clayton. I was left to wonder what was farther up that road.
As we sat outside at a table enjoying our cones I looked up and saw this big blue upright boxy station wagon pull in. It had a mesh grill, knobby tires and a big 4WD front axle. I looked at the grill badge and below the name it had a badge that said "FOUR WHEEL DRIVE STATION WAGON".
To my 13 year old eyes it was the coolest car I'd ever seen and I looked over at dad and said "Dad - we need one of those!"
Of course it was a LAND ROVER and fifty years later I still feel that way.
I bought my first Land Rover in 1971 - a Series II 88" with a rusty frame and replaced that few years later with a 1967 SIIA pickup. In 1978 I tracked down a 1966 SIIA 109" diesel station wagon which I still have today. Its somewhat timeworn, has around 375,000 miles on it, smokes, is fairly slow and desperately needs a restoration but I love it. Its name is Eeyore.