The Last Overland - 1955 Land Rover Drives From Singapore to London

clifford chow
29 Aug 2019

Back in 1955, a group of five young men set out on an ambitious journey, driving two Series I Land Rovers, charted by The Oxford & Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition, also known as ‘The First Overland’. The gruelling journey covered over 18,000 miles, spanning across Europe, through the Indian subcontinent, across what was then Burma, and then journeying Southward through the Kingdom of Thailand, and toward the Malayian Peninsula; finally arriving in Singapore. In a time when infrastructure was not at their best, their journey was the ultimate test of man and machine.

During their arduous journey, the team were tasked to record their trip. Back then, destinations like the Middle East, East Asia and Southeast Asia were largely unheard of. The team from The Oxford & Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition certainly made their mark, with footage submitted to BBC’s Travel and Exploration Unit, headed by no other than a then-young Sir David Attenborough. The footage proved an eye opener to many in Briton at the time, offering a glimpse of cultures far away from their shores.

On Sunday, 25th of August, a new team of eight, including Nat George, grandson of Tim Slessor (a member of The First Overland), and Singaporean Larry Leong, were flagged off, driving the original 1955 ‘Oxford’ Land Rover Series I used in The First Overland.

They are on an expedition to return ‘Oxford’ to its home in the UK, the team was flagged off from the start line at the Singapore F1 Pit Building in Marina Bay, a location fitting for the beginnings of all grand motoring adventures. In attendance were the Expedition’s key supporters – including Singapore Tourism Board, Jaguar Land Rover Asia Pacific, Opihr Gin and AKE Group, and members of the public.

A record-breaking convoy of 90 Land Rovers, including members of the Land Rover Owners Singapore, escorted ‘Oxford’ to Singapore’s border with Malaysia. Within the team, there is Alex Bescoby (age 31), award-winning filmmaker, and Nat George (age 21), Tim’s grandson. Tim Slessor himself was unfortunately unable to join the convoy during the flagoff, as he was under the weather. Tim had previously mentioned “I am 87, and if I don’t do it now, I may never get another chance. To finally see this expedition come to fruition after many months of planning and anticipation, brings me great joy. If you like, it’s a case of ‘the Old Man helps take the Old Lady home.” Hopefully, Tim will be able to rejoin the team, later in the journey.

Due to changing political environments, the journey to bring ‘Oxford’ home has been altered to steer away from zones of trouble; a poignant reminder of how different the world is today. Along the way back to London, the Overland team will be welcomed by Land Rover enthusiasts from across twenty countries such as Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Bulgaria and Belgium. Travelling through multiple cities, this expedition not only marks the historical recreation of an iconic journey in motoring history, but also celebrates friendships forged across borders.

Back in London, another gathering of classic Land Rovers of record-breaking numbers will mark the end of the journey in December 2019. Escorting ‘Oxford’ on her final leg of the trip, the final Land Rover convoy continues the celebration of the global love affair shared across the motoring world.

Tap here to find out more about The Last Overland.

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