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Classic Series Land Rover Expeditions
2: Colonel Leblanc's Africa Expeditions

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Colonel Leblanc was instrumental in establishing the unique association between Series Land Rovers and overland expeditions. It was he, who in 1949, when Solihull was only one year into Series I production, that he took an 80inch model to Ethiopia. His exploits with early production models in the Middle East lead Rover, in 1951, to offer him a post as travelling salesman. He rejected the idea of a retainer fee for his services and negotiated instead a half percent commission on all future sales to the Middle East. He then set off with Roger McCahey (over 30 years his junior), a Land Rover and a Rover P4 car to travel around Africa, demonstrating the capabilities of the vehicle and taking orders as he went.

They drove from Algiers to Nairobi and back to the Mediterranean. When approaching a town with sales potential, they would wash down the vehicles, make themselves presentable and approach whatever governmental or private organisations and companies that might be interested.

Roger recalls that it was Leblanc who drove the Rover car, and it was his dogged determination to succeed that the car made the journey with only punctures and broken springs as a consequence. It must surely be one of the first successful repairs to a broken spring using string!

It was a credit to Dunlop that they returned with the original tyres on the vehicles and it was as a result of detailed feed-back from this expedition that Dunlop was able to begin development of their first sand-tyre.

Over a period of years Leblanc was able to set up the basis for a framework of Land Rover dealerships
in far off locations. Sales really took off in the Middle East as a result of his countless Series Land Rover expeditions in the area.

Colonel Leblanc died in 1966 at the age of 78. There is no detailed account of his exploits in print, but there is a short section devoted to his achievements and including first hand recollections of his expedition member Roger McCahey in Land Rover: The Unbeatable 4 X 4 by K & J Slavin and G N Mackie. This is an excellent reference work on the history, development and achievements of Series Land Rovers.


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