5 Questions: Chris Marrison | The Highlands Current

Chris Marrison, of Garrison, is the chief executive officer of Risk Integrated. He also owns seven Land Rovers.

Can you own too many Land Rovers?
They used to be quite cheap as military surplus — like $2,000 — so you could get as many as you like. We have a large yard. One limit is how many you can keep running, and the other is the wife.

Which was your first?
It’s a Series IIa from 1968. I acquired it when I moved to Garrison and needed a car. I searched the web and found these guys in Vermont who were selling Land Rovers. I realized they were getting them from the British Army. About that time, I did a project in the U.K. for a year, and the army was selling lines and lines and lines of them. I became a small expert in importing them. It cost about $1,000 to put one on an Atlantic ferry.

What drew you to that Rover?
It’s utilitarian; it’s the one where you can throw wood in the back or the kids and you don’t mind about it. It’s a simple truck body with seats in the back for eight people. I drove it from Garrison to Guatemala at Christmas in 2000 to propose to my wife [Maria Stein-Marrison, who was there to see her family]. I like the safari idea behind it; it’s a truck of adventure. I was an engineer in the Royal Air Force, and these were the vehicles we used all the time. They are fairly simple mechanically. I’ve never had the need to take one to a garage, and it’s satisfying when they don’t start and then they do start. In the Air Force, we fixed tornado bombers, but you had a manual and machines. It wasn’t just you and a spanner [wrench] and a coat hanger. When a Land Rover breaks down, you usually think it’s something deep down, but it’s often that a wire has come off or — as I’ve found, standing on the side of the road, diagnosing the problem — you’ve run out of gas.

What are the others?
I have another Series IIa that was adapted by the special forces for use in the desert. It’s got fuel tanks and smoke launchers and it’s painted pink [for the Pink Panthers]. The other five are Series III, which were made until 1985. One is boxy and lightweight, designed to be slung under a helicopter. Another has camouflage nets — it’s like a fluttering bush when you drive it. One has a winch; one was for reconnaissance and has radios in the back. The last one has a hardback.

Will there be an eighth?
I would like to get a Defender, which is the series after III. We drove one around Namibia on our honeymoon and on the penultimate day, it broke down, just as it should. The army is about to start selling their Defenders, and it’s tempting. I think the kids need to get scholarships into university, then I can get it.

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