From humble beginnings in a house in Nuneaton and an ex-Camel Trophy Defender 110, Ian Gough began a new side to the business of Mantec Services.
"I was preparing for an overland trip across Africa and found that you couldn't buy off the shelf expedition equipment for the vehicle. Everything we sourced was an effort and I actually made most of the additional accessories myself. The workshop at the house was an ideal base. I spent many hours out there while Sandra and the lads planned the route, and the medical and food supplies. They even practiced bread making and I had to test 'camp fire' cooking! The Defender was the ambulance on the Sulawesi Camel Trophy event, which nobody seemed to know about in those days, although E156SOA was recognized by Europeans and I had to shake hands with many a Camel Trophy fan! We often wonder where the Land Rover ended up."
In 1991 Ian and Sandra took their fully prepared Camel Trophy Defender 110, to the first Land Rover Owner International Show at Billing Aquadrome.
"Like many of the traders in the Land Rover and 4 x 4 market at the time, we found the LRO Show (which became LRE Show) to be a unique platform to exhibit our business, get feedback from customers and sell at the same time. Until then the shows were all about competition driving and traders only had a small part to play but of course we showed off our beloved E156 SOA at as many events as possible. We enjoyed it."
Mantec products were clearly in demand and coupled with Ian and Sandra's expedition experience, Mantec began preparing expedition vehicles, offering travel advice and tips, and continuing the design and manufacture of equipment to be tested in the most demanding conditions overlanders and off-roaders love to find!
"At first the most requested product was our raised air intake kit. I was the first to make an off the shelf kit - to buy an equivalent accessory from Land Rover you needed to order loads of separate parts which included a piece of galvanised pipe! I wanted to acknowledge the emerging, more up market image of the Defender and Discovery so I designed our raised air intakes to fit well and look good. My efforts were rewarded when Mantec was invited to supply products to Land Rover Special Vehicles, Solihull, and celebrated when they began including them in their brochure.
The range of products designed and manufactured by Mantec at this time also included side protection sills, window guards, wading kits, ventilation grilles, steering guards and long range fuel tank. Inspired by customer demand and supported by friends and family, Ian increased production from his workshop to cope with Land Rover original parts, a growing international customer base and a small flow of expedition vehicles being prepared for travel.
"In 1993/4 we had itchy feet again and Ian wanted to prove that we could still travel and camp in our newly acquired Camel Trophy Discovery. We had also been intrigued by some expedition advice featured in one of the magazines discouraging people from traveling along the coast to the Western Sahara. Never say 'can't' to Ian Gough! Yes of course we spent 3 months traveling overland from the UK to the northern part of the Western Sahara and back again, going as remote as we could to prove both points. What about Mantec? Oh yes the business, well we left Ian's sons and my mother to keep things ticking over - Mantec was much smaller then!"
The Raised Air Intake Kits and Wading Kits continued to be the most popular product; made available to the majority of Land Rover models and engines by Ian's ability to design, test and improve the specification to ensure the performance of new engines wasn't compromised. In 1995 Sandra Young became a Partner in the company and the couple moved Mantec to new premises in Hartshill, Nuneaton.
This enabled Ian Gough to develop additional products and introduce them into Mantec's growing product range. Sand Tracks and Bridging Ladders were added, improving on the 'Sand Ladder' concept with the Sand Tracks (tested in the Sahara, Tunisia) and introducing the Bridging Ladders, known as 'Bridgys' after a request to bridge ice crevices.
With more workspace, Sandra in the hand built office, two members of staff and continuing support from various volunteers (you know who you are!), Ian manufactured increasing quantities of Mantec products, including those for Land Rover Genuine parts, and prepared some expedition vehicles.
Some of the most memorable ones are featured in the photos; Earth 2000 Ford Mavericks, Roddie Fielden and Oleg Bogdanov, a former Russian racing driver, who had heard of Mantec's quality and expertise commissioned Ian to fully prepare his Defender 90 in a world record attempt to climb Mount Elbrus, Russia's highest mountain. A video of the progress called 'Man and Mountain' was made to covering this project. To be continued...