Labour of love as Jonny (15) restores Land Rover
By the time Jonny Boggs was eight years olds he was wiring up plugs in the family home. Shortly afterwards, he dismantled his mother's vacuum cleaner but all was forgiven when he was able to put it back together again and it worked better than ever.
Roll on to age 15 and Jonny, whose grandfather, Cecil, and his ancestors hail from the Malin area of Donegal, is now in the middle of the biggest project of his young life - rebuilding a 1987 Land Rover 90, a forerunner of the Defender. This is a from-the-wheel-up job - a task that even a seasoned fully-trained mechanic would find daunting. But not Jonny, "I have always loved Land Rovers," he says.
Under constant pressure from his 13-year-old son, his dad David scoured eBay and Gumtree to find a project vehicle for Jonny to work on. Eventually a Land Rover was sourced in 2013. It had 138,000 miles recorded by eight previous owners and cost £800. "It was used as a farm vehicle in Craigavon and I drove it to our home at Carrickfergus outside Belfast as it had an MOT and it drove reasonably well," says David. He handed the keys to Jonny and told him it was his when he fixed it up and got his driving licence when he was 17 years.
It went straight into a barn where a workshop had been set up for a major overhaul and rebuild. The two-seater with pick-up body was mostly original, two doors had been replaced, but as it was stripped back to the sub-frame it was discovered the chassis had been welded and patched up, there was extensive rust in the bulkhead and other body work needed urgent attention.
Apart from his favourite sport, cricket, Jonny, now 15 years, still spends all his spare hours working on the Land Rover. He built a hoist and with the help of his dad, the 19J engine and gearbox were removed and a refurbished galvanised chassis was sourced with the help of Trevor Cuthbert who is a contributor to Land Rover Monthly, as is Jonny. He also gets assistance from other Land Rover enthusiasts. A local devotee helped with a new replacement galvanised bulkhead as the original was beyond repair.
The seats are now being restored with traditional black vinyl. Wheels are being renovated, axles and radius arms cleaned up and the suspension is being upgraded with shock absorbers getting a two-inch lift.
Jonny also plans to overhaul the 2.5 litre 92bhp engine, which has good torque and trailer-pulling power. He believes it may have a top speed of about 50 mph but says there is no budget to replace it just now. That it being pencilled in a project for the future.
So far £3,500 has been spent on the rebuild, but David is proud of his son's enthusiasm. "He spends almost all of his spare time in the workshop, maybe seven or eight hours at the weekends. I just help with some of the heavy lifting, and the funding."
When he qualifies as a full licence holder in 2017, Jonny plans to use the Land Rover as his everyday transport.
Jonny, who goes into fifth year to study for his GCSEs, has told fellow Land Rover enthusiasts: "I am learning so much and having a great time. I hope to get better at welding, and when I grow up I want to be a classic car mechanic as all you need to fix a modern car is a computer."