Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge: A Conversation with Land Rover Enthusiast Brian Phillips
National Geographic’s top-rated “car-shaped show about people”, Car S.O.S, the car restoration show with a whole lot of heart, returns this Valentine’s Day with a televisual love letter to one of the country’s most cherished cars, the Land Rover. Tune in to National Geographic on 14th February at 8pm to catch the first of two brilliant, fast-paced and funny new special shows featuring a live studio audience and a celebrity guest in Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge. Then catch the second instalment of the adrenaline fuelled spin-off show on 21st February at 8pm ahead of a brand-new 10-part series of Car S.O.S commencing 28th February at 8pm.
What is your recent history with this Land Rover?
I had been waiting 18 years to restore it – that’s when it was last on the road. But I’d put everything off. The brakes had seized, the clutch had frozen and the carburettor was playing up. It was deteriorating. Which is why I couldn’t believe it when this beautiful, gleaming vehicle was revealed as mine! Also, I was going to have trouble repairing the gearbox, so Car S.O.S have saved me an enormous amount of work!
Can you expand on that?
After developing cancer two years ago, I lost time on the restoration project. So my family decided to help me out by contacting Car S.O.S. Now things have come full circle and, after 60 years, I have a gleaming Land Rover. We could have sold it and made some money years ago, but we didn’t want to. This experience made me appreciate how much we value that vehicle. It’s a fairytale!
What has this Land Rover meant to you over the years?
It’s always been a centrepiece in our family. It represents my life. It’s been with me a long time. I’ve had two divorces and peaks and troughs in my career since having that vehicle. The Land Rover has been constant in my life. It’s been our family vehicle. My daughter drove it aged 12 in a field behind our house, my children learnt to drive in it, we have slept in it and flown it across the Channel. My son was driving it at university when he met his future wife. It was his wedding vehicle. When he drove it away, it was dressed up in ribbons. In the future, I want my son and then his children to have it. That car contains a kaleidoscope of experiences and emotions.
Tell us about the moment of the “reveal” on Car S.O.S.
When my car was revealed, I was overwhelmed! I was overcome by the lengths my family had gone to with their subterfuge and planning. They knew I’d smell a rat if I spotted anything untoward. But I really didn’t question anything at all. When I saw the restored Land Rover at the auction, I thought, “That’s the same as mine”. But I didn’t relate it to my vehicle at all. I was totally taken in! I was led by the nose, but wasn’t it wonderful?
How do you feel now about the moment it was revealed that Car S.O.S had restored your vintage Land Rover?
I have to say, I’m recovering from the shock very, very slowly. I’ve only had three hours’ sleep a night since it happened. I’m still re-living the whole experience. But what an experience it was!
What will you take away from your experience with Car S.O.S?
Afterwards, I told someone connected to the production, “Do you realise how happy you’ve made me and my family?” She got quite emotional. That can’t be manufactured. You can give someone a cheque and say, “Here’s 10,000 pounds to do up your car”. But what Car S.O.S do is dig deep into people’s souls, pulling out all these lovely memories from the past. That’s a very valuable thing to do.
Can you amplify that?
When the restored Land Rover was revealed, I suddenly realised how important my four children were to me. That was my reaction. It wasn’t at all about material gain. When I saw the vehicle, I didn’t think, “Oh good, someone else has paid to get my Land Rover done up.” I didn’t see a gleaming Land Rover. I saw that my children had colluded to give me this wonderful gift. That was the most significant thing. It was the fact that it was a sign of appreciation from my family. They were saying, “Let’s do something for dad.” It was about bringing the family together. That realisation was really emotional. It was an unbeatable experience and one of the happiest, most unforgettable moments of my life.
Car S.O.S Special: 7 Day Challenge, Thursday 14th February at 8pm & Thursday 21st February at 8pm on National Geographic