If you loved your Land Rover in Vermont of the 1970's, you mourned the pullout of Land Rover from the US market in 1974.
On the other hand, the previous franchisee had been a Buick dealer. And it showed in sales and service.
British Leyland, the parent company of Land Rover, kept a trickle of parts coming in through their Burlington, VT MG/Triumph dealership, but daily use of a Rover was becoming a problem. When I worked at UVM during this period, I gamely hung onto my MG Midget as my daily driver. A colleague who had worked in Africa kept touting the advantages of his Series III Land Rover and the then-new Westford based shop that kept it running so well.
The new company was Rovers North, starting in a barn on the farm property of Mark Letorney. His knowledge of Land Rovers - then limited to the Series I, II, II-A and III, and FC models - was unrivaled and based on his use of Land Rovers every day on his working farm.
As the company grew from a repair and replacement parts operation to a national distributor of Land Rover's own Genuine Parts, Rovers North became a nationally recognized parts source and center of technical expertise. Rovers North staff organized the first-ever winter drive up Mt. Washington, New England's highest peak. Their vehicles and staff have tackled the Baja Peninsula, off road rallies throughout the East Coast, the Rockies as well as the southwestern deserts.
In 1993, my 1966 Land Rover took me to Peacham, VT, where I noticed the engine sounded like a rendition of Jingle Bells. I called Rovers North for advice. "Drive it here tomorrow and keep an eye on gauges. If it starts to sound worse, pull over and get a tow." So I drove it 100 miles across Vermont and the car, jingling loudly, arrived in Westford one morning.
Driving into the shop, then service-manager Charlie Haigh quickly saw this would not be a simple repair. Removing the head he found he could wiggle the pistons inside the cylinders. Not good. The solution would be a rapid engine boring, new pistons and new piston rings [yes, the rings were the cause of the "ringing"]. I learned a lot helping out but I also knew that this would not be inexpensive.
At the end of the day, I went to Mark Letorney's office to introduce myself and receive the bill. The amount, undoubtedly fair, emptied out my modest savings account. Remembering that Mark published a newsletter, I suggested that he needed a writer; I certainly needed additional income. Fortunately, he had read my articles in the Burlington Free Press so he vaguely knew me. We agreed I would start with an article for the next issue. Once he accepted the article, he agreed to have me write a regular column.
Shortly after his editor had left the company, no one on staff had the time to do it, so I became an automotive magazine editor - fulfilling a dream formed when as a kid I first read a Car & Driver or Road and Track. Farming out the then-newsletter was not a comfortable step for Rovers North, and I've never forgotten the leap of faith that has brought me such opportunity.
Being an authorized Land Rover parts supplier for the North American market has become much harder, much more complex, than when Land Rover sold basically one model. Land Rover has now manufactured multiple models: Series Land Rovers, Range Rover Classics, Range Rover P-38A's, Discovery I and Discovery II's, Defender 90's and 110's. You need to know the intricacies and engineering of every part of every model. Keeping abreast of all that from a much-larger barn in rural Vermont is not for the undedicated or faint of heart.
Rovers North has grown substantially since 1979 but its commitment to Land Rovers remains unswerving. It's a pleasure to work with the company, and selfishly, know that they're helping me live the Land Rover life.
From the Rovers North website:
Family owned by enthusiasts for over 30 years, they eat, sleep and breath Land Rovers. If you poked them they would bleed green... or Girling brake fluid.
Over 30 years ago, Mark Letorney's love for Land Rovers inspired him to start Rovers North and to this day he has never owned anything but a Land Rover. Mark's wife Andrea has been at Rovers North since Day One; together they have made it the premium Land Rover Parts provider it is today. In recent years their sons Graham and Calef have returned to Vermont to work at Rovers North, making it a true family business.
But Rovers North is more than just the Letorneys, many of their staff members have been with us for decades. Simply put, nobody in the USA has the Land Rover parts knowledge and experience we do. Every call or email is answered by a trained Land Rover parts specialist with access to the largest selection of Genuine and aftermarket parts in the USA. They have the experience and knowledge to get the job done right.
Availability and Genuine Land Rover Parts: More than anywhere else, Rovers North has the parts you need in stock!
They own and maintain Land Rovers too so they know that when you need parts you often need them right away. Our commitment to North America's Land Rover enthusiast has lead Land Rover UK to award us with the only non-dealer direct parts account with Land Rover Export in the World which gives them unparalleled access to Genuine Land Rover Parts. Their support does not end with Genuine Parts, they carry a full line of ProLine parts as a high-quality genuine substitute. And if you break something we do not stock, our VOR (Vehicle Off Road) program is your best bet to getting the parts quickly. We receive weekly VOR air shipments directly from Land Rover Export to get your Landy up and running ASAP. Factor in our low prices and unparalleled warranty and it is no wonder they have been the enthusiast's choice since 1979! Proline: What is ProLine? ProLine is the perfect intersection of Rovers North's philosophy of providing the best parts at the best prices with unparalleled customer service.
Not all aftermarket parts that meet OEM specifications are created equally! With the variety of non-genuine parts available, separating the inexpensive high-quality parts from the cheap junk can be a time consuming, expensive and frustrating endeavor. ProLine is Rover North's solution: We tested the best parts from a multitude of manufacturers and selected only the finest to sell as Rovers North ProLine. Every ProLine part meets our exacting criteria of performance and quality at the best price and like everything else we sell, all ProLine parts are backed by our exclusive one year unlimited mileage guarantee against manufacturers defects.
Warranty: Rovers North leads the industry in customer service.
They back everything we sell with a one-year unlimited mileage warranty against manufacturers defects. So you can shop www.roversnorth.com with confidence that you will get quality parts that last, because no one likes buying things twice.
30 Years Later
Rovers North celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Read all about it in this article from The Rovers North News
30 Years Old – And Loving It [Courtesy Rovers North News, 2009]
By Jeff Aronson
It’s 30 years ago this summer that Mark Letorney found himself concerned about his Land Rovers. British Leyland and its successor companies had pulled out of the US market 5 years earlier and high quality maintenance and replacement parts had become difficult to find. With a commitment to his working Land Rovers, a telephone, a barn and a nearby post office, Mark and a good friend started Rovers North.
You can learn a lot about a Land Rover by living with it for daily use; you can learn a lot about quality parts when you rely on it as your farm and work vehicle. It quickly became apparent that Land Rover sourced and branded parts with care; in time, Mark convinced Land Rover that Rovers North should become an authorized distributor of Land Rover Genuine Parts. With that came his commitment – and that of the Rovers North staff – to become the center of technical knowledge on Land Rovers.
In the early years of the company, that knowledge centered on the Series I-II-III models and their derivatives, like the Forward Controls and Military Lightweights. When Land Rover’s corporate parents decided to close down their Classic Parts operation for Range Rovers and early Discoverys, not surprisingly, they asked Rovers North to purchase its inventory and take over its operations.
Three decades later, Rovers North supports enthusiasts throughout the much-larger range of Land Rover models: Series II, II-A, III; Range Rover Classic and P-38A; Defender 90; and Discovery Series I and II. Owners rarer Land Rovers such as Series I’s, FC 109’s and 101’s, grey-market Defenders and Range Rovers, and NAS Defender 110’s have found detailed product knowledge from engineering to installation information.
Product training requires the commitment of resources, personal energy and a strong connection with Land Rover in Solihull. It’s unusual for a company to maintain a singular commitment to one marque of automobile; Rovers North has dealt solely with Land Rovers since its inception.
Mark and Andrea Letorney continue their leadership of the company, as well as the active participation of sons Graham and Calef – both of whom grew up in and with Land Rovers. Rovers North’s success also reflects the commitment of a full staff of Land Rover enthusiasts – men and women committed to the marque and to enthusiasts across North America and around the world.
This level of Land Rover enthusiasm means that however you contact Rovers North to purchase parts, seek advice, maintain, repair or upgrade your Land Rover, the people you’ll talk to speak from experience. They own Land Rovers. So, too, do the staff members who pack and ship your parts, complete the accounting on your account, oversee the parts inventory and new products, design and write the publications, create and update the website. Whether you get information and advice from Rovers North by telephone, through www.RoversNorth.com and its ever-expanding range of features, in person at Land Rover events, you know that the parts and technical information come from daily experience with Land Rovers.
This singular focus on Land Rovers confirms the commitment of Rovers North and its entire staff to provide enthusiasts with the highest quality, best value parts and custom accessories for your Land Rover - “the world’s most versatile vehicle.” As a company Rovers North enters its next 30 years with renewed enthusiasm for the marque. Whether your Land Rover takes you across town or across a mountain, Rovers North stands ready to help you get the most out of your Land Rover experience.
"The Land Rover is not a vehicle, it's a way of life."