In 1955, six Oxford and Cambridge students embarked on an expedition from London to Singapore. This year an original member will make the journey in reverse.
'Oxford', a 1955 Land Rover Series I that completed an arduous expedition from London to Singapore back in 1955 to 1956, has been unveiled at the Jaguar Land Rover Showroom on 30 May 2019, ahead of its upcoming expedition in August.
64 years after The First Overland expedition from London to Singapore, Tim Slessor (age 87) is put in the driver seat of Oxford once again Inspired by the 1954 Oxford and Cambridge Trans-Africa expedition, six Oxford and Cambridge university students embarked on The Oxford & Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition (The First Overland) in two Land Rovers named 'Oxford' and 'Cambridge'.
The team traversed the dusty deserts of Iran, passed through northern India, forded treacherous streams and rivers through Burma (modern Myanmar), down through what was then called the Federation of Malaya and made history by being the first to successfully drive the 10,000 miles (16,093km) from London to Singapore.
Upon completion of The First Overland, 'Oxford' was returned to Land Rover and was subsequently loaned to The British Ornithological Union, joining their expedition to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic in 1957, where the car was left and used for many years by a local handyman.
It followed him into retirement on nearby Saint Helena Island, where 'Oxford' was eventually dismantled and left to be used as a chicken coop. In 2017, Land Rover restorer Adam Bennett rediscovered the car and decided to fully restore it. In 2018, Adam gifted 'Oxford' to Tim Slessor (a member of the first expedition), Alex Bescoby (an award-winning film-maker) and the team for one last adventure - The Last Overland.
'Oxford' is a Land Rover Series I built in 1955 that completed The First Overland in 1956, and was only rediscovered recently This time they will make the journey in reverse, from Singapore to London. But as before, they will travel across three continents.
It is an expedition that will take them through the jungles of Malaysia and Myanmar, the mountains of the Himalayas and northern Turkey, and the deserts of the Middle East, as well as over 20 countries, including Nepal, China, Uzbekistan, Iran and Bulgaria. The aim is to arrive in London within approximately 100 days of setting out from Singapore.
Regarding his motivation to repeat the journey at his age, Tim Slessor said, "The intention is, come late August, to drive her from Singapore back to the U.K. - overland once more. As I get older, I have been bothered by a recurring and nagging whisper, 'Go for it - before it's too late.' Which is why I am here today - I am 87, and if I don't do it now, I may never get another chance. After all, as that whisper reminds me, 'you're only here once.' So I am hoping to be aboard old SNX891 come August. If you like, it's a case of 'this Old Man helps take the Old Lady home."
The Last Overland expedition will begin on Sunday, 25 August 2019 with the flag off from Singapore's F1 pit straight in Marina Bay. 'Oxford' will be given the perfect send off by being escorted through the streets of Singapore all the way to the country's border with Malaysia by a parade of other Land Rovers driven by local enthusiasts, including members of the Land Rover Owners Singapore group.
'Oxford' will be on display at the Jaguar Land Rover Showroom from June until the flag-off on 25 August.