The Rebirth of KXC
By Cynthia Moss
I have a request that means a lot to me. I'm hoping you will help.
When I started the Amboseli project, I lived and worked in Nairobi and drove to Amboseli whenever I could get the time. In those days I drove a Renault4, known in Kenya as a Roho, meaning heart or spirit. They were great, tough little cars and the name suited them. Eventually, I set up a camp and obtained the use of a second-hand SeriesII Land Rover. It had its up and downs as any old Land Rover does, but it was a work horse. I was in Nairobi when I got a phone call to tell me that a tree fell on my Land Rover, destroying it. I almost never cry, but I cried that day.
That was in 1984, 12 years into the Amboseli project. The following year after a fund-raising blitz, I got a brand new Land Rover 90 Defender. It was the new model of Land Rover with coil springs and a diesel engine. I instantly fell in love and to this day, I and my whole team love that vehicle. It is very fondly called “KXC” which are the letters in its license plate.
KXC has been through so much with me. It was there through the making of all the four of the Echo films. In fact, it features prominently in the films and is almost like a character itself. We almost lost KXC in 1990 during the Echo filming when the cameraman, Martyn Colbeck, drove it into a deep water-filled natural pit. The engine was destroyed, but it was my beloved Land Rover, and instead of giving it up we replaced the engine.
KXC went on to do good, important work for the next 20 years. During that time, it had two restorations. Nevertheless, by the time it was 25 years old in 2010, we semi-retired it to simple duties such as hauling the water trailer and collecting firewood. It continued to run well but the body was so old and rattled so badly that you couldn’t think when you drove it.
KXC will be 37 years old in our 50th anniversary year. Maybe we’re crazy, maybe we’re too nostalgic, but we have decided to give KXC yet another lease of life. It is being completely renovated from the chassis on up. However, we’re not doing this just because we’re fond of the old car. Land Rover stopped making the kind of Defenders we have and now only make fancy, computer-based vehicles that are not appropriate for our work. And in any case, a new one costs, with import duty and sales tax about $100,000. To completely restore KXC will cost about $20,000. It’s a bargain at the price.