The polite and understated tone of these communications offers fantastic insight into the character of the then-young man who was clearly quite determined and meticulous: the pile of documents includes every receipt, carnet and insurance document, and even telegrams he sent or received! One of the most insightful is a letter from the sales department of Rover in Solihull in January 1959. It’s a response to a request for pricing for a Series II that he made the month before and it directs him to the manufacturer’s distributors, Central African Motors in Lusaka, who in turn replied: a petrol 88in variant was £640 in the UK and £867 if delivered in Lusaka.
There is further detailed correspondence on the 9th of May that same year in which he confirms the order for an 88in (in green, although a grey example was delivered) and details the options and accessories he’d like included, such as a hard top (£73), Trak-grip tyres (£8.12s) and a hydraulic jack (£4.18s.6d). There is also mention of items he no longer needs, including an extra fuel tank as “it is my intention when next in Lusaka to buy a trailer to carry stores.”
The same letter confirms his banking arrangements through Standard Bank in South Africa and asks for confirmation of the total cost (including a full tank of fuel!) and also a request for a discount (if available) for cash on delivery. It ends off with a polite request for details of any Land-Rover agencies en route, as well as a list of essential spares and road maps that would come in handy.
The chaps at the famous Solihull factory clearly got going with the order as the archive of documents includes the Series II’s original guarantee document. It’s dated December 2nd that year but confirms that delivery was made two months prior, on September 23rd. And that was evidently somewhat behind schedule as the terse contents of a series of telegrams attest, with Philip at one point taking issue with the lack of notice about the delay and suggesting a courtesy vehicle should be provided in the interim or he would consider cancelling the order.