"Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"

By Joel Ericson, Expedition Portal Associate Editor
Images: Graham Jackson

The title is from a brief exchange between Sir Henry Stanley and Dr. David Livingstone forever immortalized as a quote in movies, cartoons, and jokes. If you know a little history this quote conjures up imagery of an expedition deep into the heart of Africa in search of a man who many presumed dead. As a member of the Expedition Portal you have probably fantasized about a similar expedition into Africa, exploring previously undiscovered locations with your safari hat and 4x4. Graham Jackson, his wife Connie, and their Land Rover Defender 110 have lived that fantasy… well, aside from the safari hat and search for a lost missionary! In 2004 they completed a 9-month expedition of Africa.

This Defender 110 relies on a 110 hp, 2.5L 4 cylinder turbo diesel for locomotion. While the 110 horsepower may seem a little lean, the 195ft-lbs of torque and 5-speed manual transmission more than make up. BFG Mud Terrains (265/75R16) provide the necessary traction for the 820 miles of range that the 37 gallon long range fuel tank provides.

Before venturing across Africa, the Defender received a Safari Gard JEK Stage II suspension upgrade with 2.5” lift, castor corrected radius arms, custom progressive coils in front and Old Man Emu heavy duty coils in the rear. Shocks are 10” Fox all round with Rover Tracks custom shock & spring mounts. This D110 uses many Safari Gard products to provide armor protection; rock sliders, bull bar, skid plate, and more. A truly unique and enviable modification is the custom oil storage box that holds a complete oil change under the truck! (Rollover the image to see it opened and closed) Graham points to his Technitop roof tent as the most valuable mod on his Land Rover, especially regarding the comfort.

In terms of capacity, Graham says that his Defender 110 is “cavernous!” In fact, he complains that the massive amount of room can lead to over-packing and that discipline is a must to prevent overloading. He says that the capability is awesome” and that the bone-stock D110 boasts great gearing, articulation, and ground-clearance. He pointed out that his suspension upgrades have gained ride comfort and greater off-road prowess in exchange for durability. In addition, the D110 can’t cruise or really attain high speeds which are rarely needed. Graham has been thrilled with the durability of his D110. After 46,600 miles, 20 countries, and 3 continents the only Land Rover part to fail was the transmission, and that due to a manufacturing defect. As Graham notes, that’s “punishing conditions than most trucks see in a lifetime.” Finally, in terms of reliability Graham knocks on wood as he notes that he has never been left stranded.

Growing up in South Africa, Graham’s family often traveled to the remote areas of the Kalahari Desert. Ever since those family trips Graham has had Africa overlanding in his blood. He took his wife Connie on a honeymoon in the Kalahari and hooked her as well! After their honeymoon trip they went back for a 9-month, 30,000 mile trip from London to Cape Town. Graham points out that Connie is great at designing and building items for the truck as well as packing it. More than that though, she has a passion for the outdoor culinary arts which guarantees a tasty meal wherever they camp for the evening.

Graham and Connie make weekend trips as they can while waiting to afford longer trips. They have trips planned for Baja, Mexico, and Belize. But how do you top a 9-month expedition across Africa? Graham says the next big trip will be an expedition of Australia! We can’t wait!

For more information on Graham and Connie’s Africa trip, their D110, or their future trips, visit their website at http://www.africaoverland.org/index.htm.

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