When we started Bishop+Rook we had a simple idea: people should be able to drive a classic Land Rover without having to worry about scratching the paint, getting her dirty, or spending a small fortune. With this simple premise in mind, we set about to start a company that made these vintage explorers accessible to just about anyone who wanted one. While we appreciate how amazing a nut and bolt restoration can be, the six-figure price tag goes against our belief in sourcing and delivering adventure tested vehicles to the states. Each Defender has her own story. Each ding, scratch, or repair represents an adventure. In the case of Blue, she’s everything you would ever want or need to start your own expedition, with plenty of experience to guide the way.
Blue reminds us of a time many years ago (a decade, perhaps) when our founder was was backpacking through Guatemala when he stopped in the small cobble-stoned Spanish town of Antigua. Through the recommendation of a fellow vagabond, he wandered into the self-described “eclectic international watering hole” called Café No Sé. It was an out of the way cafe with an interesting story. With a mixed audience of expats and locals–traveling somewhere between here and there–the little cafe not only served reasonably priced food, but when the sun went down it turned into a speakeasy-cum-mezcal bar-cum bookstore-cum live music venue.
Somehow our founder ended up finding himself in the inner circle of local expats and locals who hosted a questionably legal weekly poker game behind the even more illegal tequila bar (hidden behind the Dyslexia book store). This is the kind of stuff you only read about in international spy thrillers, but it was (and continues to be) a very real and amazing place. But this story isn’t about a traveling outsider questioning if he should lay down a winning hand at cards, a near death experience, or the mountain banditos. This is the story of Blue, the 80-year-old bartender of the hidden tequila bar, behind the hidden door, behind the poker playing hidden room, behind the Dyslexia book store.
Blue, which likely wasn’t his real name, but most certainly was a moniker earned in some exotic port town many moons and miles ago. Blue was the bartender of the hidden drinking hole, which, to some, was nothing more than a few small hand-made tables, a few stools, a tiny bar, and a wall lined with illegal Mezcal smuggled on chicken buses from from nearby Oaxaca, Mexico. To most, this was an outpost on the way to adventure. For Blue, it was his temporary home and means to continue his voyage.
Blue is the kind of guy who has seen the world. After a short conversation, and a few shared shots out of a questionable bottle of scorpion-infused Mezcal, he starts to share a little more about his life story. Blue is a vagabond and traveler –has been his entire life. His children hear from him occasionally via postcards he sends after riding a chicken bus down to Costa Rica to send. He tells us that they worry about him, so he wants them to think he’s relaxing on the beach enjoying his retirement. They probably know better, but would rather not know the truth.
While we believe all cars should have female names, we’re granting the exception this time to name our 1990 Land Rover Defender 90 after Blue, our tequila-slinging-vagabond-bartender. Blue stands for adventure, going where you shouldn’t go, knowing that’s where the true experience lives. Defender Blue was adopted from a husband and wife living south of Lancaster, UK, just off the coast. She was outfitted for green laneing and had seen quite a bit of the country.
She rumbled off the transport truck, with the grumble of her side-exhaust announcing her arrival. The 2.5L Turbo Diesel motor sounds mean compared to most Defenders. Fitted with a full snorkel and off road wheels, she feels just as comfortable driving down city streets as she does crossing streams. Blue was built to go anywhere at anytime. But her adventures had taken a toll over the years. Her interior was worn, the fuel tank sprung a 10 gallon leak on the ground in front of our founder’s home (to the displeasure of many judgemental dog walkers). Yes … he is aware the creek is “right there.”
We wanted to keep a lot of Blue’s charm in place, but needed to take care of the rusty bits. We replaced worn seats, fixed all the electrical bugs (including re-wiring the CB radio), and replaced the duel battery system with fresh American upgrades. We replaced her injectors, injector seals, and gave her an overall tune-up to make sure she would remain as reliable as she had been for the first 27 years of her life.
We were torn on the next phase of our restoration, but decided that she deserved to have her rust removed. It was mostly cosmetic, but would eventually need to be fixed up over the next few years. The passenger door bottom had met a similar fate as the gas tank–likely due to adventure mud and sand sticking around after an off road expedition.
Naturally, the next thing to do after a big refresh/restoration project is to take her out for a nice stroll through the woods. In this case, we took her down to Fort Snelling along the Minnesota River. The leaves had started to fall from the trees, giving us a perfect backdrop for her photo session.
Just like Bartender Blue, Defender Blue will see the world. She will have adventures and collect memories and stories along the way. Are you interested in adopting her? Drop us a note.[ninja_form id=1]