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Book Reviews: Trans-Africa Land-Rover

Trans-Africa Land-Rover book


Practical Classics, February 2023

'Filled with period images of the amazing cross-continent adventure, this beautifully produced hardback detailing the fascinating tale of Philip Kohler's epic overland adventure from 1955-'62 has just won its class in the RAC Motoring Book of the Year awards. Well worth a read.'

Auto Express, December 2022

'YOU don't just have to take our word for it that this is an amazing book – it's recently taken home the sub-£50 Motoring Book of the Year award from the Royal Automobile Club. The gorgeous, superbly photographed tome tells the story of Philip Kohler's epic journey across Europe and Africa in a fifties Land Rover. It's well written and produced, visual enough to make a good coffee-table book, brilliantly enjoyable – and, at £30, we think it's a bargain.'

Classic Land Rover, September 2022

'Meticulously researched, it is highly entertaining, easy to read and excellently illustrated using period documents and colour photographs, the majority taken by Philip "with his trusted Leica camera" during his travels.'

Octane, August 2022

'Freelance publishing designer Martin Port has scored something of an own goal this month; if he hadn't made such a fine job of our Book of the Month, reviewed opposite, then he might easily have scored the top slot with this volume, which is very much a personal project.'

Classic Cars, August 2022

'This book is about so much more than its titular Land Rover. Fundamentally it's a book about people, specifically its subject Philip Kohler, and perhaps unintentionally its author Martin Port. Because without Port's curiosity in discovering a faded Land Rover in an overgrown garden in London, and his determination to uncover its secrets, this story might never have been told. You probably don't know who Kohler is, which is where Port and his diligence comes in again – through investigation and storytelling, Port makes you care. It's fundamentally a story of adventure and discovery of travel from Australia, throughout Europe and across Africa. One which led Kohler to a career as a location manager in the film business – and to amass a truly staggering photograph collection, much of which is reproduced here for the first time, rescued from obscurity. Ironically, given the title, the Land Rover is only a supporting artist. The life of Kohler – the traveller who got to know Africa so intimately as to introduce Hollywood to it – deserves a film in itself. Engrossing and spellbinding.'

Land Rover International, July 2022

'This fantastic new book, written by Martin Port, tells of the adventures of Philip Kohler and his trusty Series II as they embarked on a three-year expedition around Africa. The book boasts over 300 of Kohler's photographs (mostly colour) that he took while on his travels, recording his remarkable solo crossing of the Sahara desert. A must-have for fans of travel.'

Classic & Sports Car, July 2022

'It's all too easy to be accused of nepotism when reviewing a book produced by a friend and former colleague – so much so that at times they don't get the credit they deserve. A case in point is ex-C&SC art editor Martin Port's debut Land-Rover offering for Porter Press JUE 477, meticulously detailing the history and restoration of the first production Landie, which really deserved to be our Book of the month but didn't quite make the cut. We're making no such mistakes with his second book on the marque, despite the fact that it has an even stronger link to C&SC, focusing as it does on Port's beloved 1959 Series II, long-time star of the Our Classics pages. I always knew that this car – and its first owner, South Australian native Philip Kohler – had an interesting history, but until this 144-page hardback landed I hadn't realised what a rich seam of archive gold Port had struck when he acquired he historic off-roader in 2016. Despite admitting that he has 'barley scratched the surface' of the material that came with the Series II. Port presents more than 300 photographs and original documents from correspondence between Kohler and Land-Rover, prior to the car's acquisition, to richly reproduced images of his first visit to London with his trusty Leica. Port delves into the origins of Kohler's spirit of adventure which would take him as a 22-year-old to the other side of the world on a European tour before he embarked on a new life as an expat in Africa.'

'This is much more than just another car book, it's Port's tribute to a man who has become a hero and inspiration to the author and in whose wheel tracks of adventure he hopes to one day follow'

The Mud Life Magazine, June 2022

'It doesn't matter if you're not into Land Rovers, Trans-Africa Land Rover is a well written and documented book that is engaging from start to finish and tells of a remarkable story of one man's desire for adventure with a huge serving of nostalgia thrown in.'

Rare & Unique Vehicles, Volume 3, Issue 11

'...this is a well-designed book and a most entertaining read!' FS

Classic Land Rover

'Martin Port's book Trans-Africa Land Rover: The Story of Philip Kohler and his Epic Overland Adventure, triumphed in the RAC Motoring Book of the Year awards in the £50 and under category. In awarding the prize, one of the judges Christian Whitehead from Blackwells bookshop said: "A fascinating story involving a trusty Series II Land Rover crossing the Sahara Desert – it's a wonderful and exciting tale that engages you from the very start." A delighted Martin said: "It was extremely surprising to win the award and to share the evening with a number of very well-respected and established authors. A number of people including other authors and some of the judges commented that what they loved most about it was just a really good story about a man and his Land Rover, rather than a reference book. It was such a personal project that I never expected it to get the reception it has and really appreciate the help that Philip Kohler's family provided in allowing me to tell his story."'


'This beautiful book is full of glorious photography of a world that is now merely a hazy memory. There are many superb anecdotes, too. Martin Port now owns Kohler's Land Rover and Leica; the author's passion for them shines through. This £30, 146-page book is well worth a look.'

Racing Spirit 

'Unless you're a dyed-in-the-wool Land Rover fan, at first glance you'd probably disregard this book, but, you'd be doing yourself a disservice. This book is much more than a book about a man and his Land Rover, indeed, it's a true tale of a man with a great spirit of adventure. Born and raised in Australia, the 21-year-old Philip Kohler sailed around the world – this was in 1954. His journey brought him to the UK where he settled for a handful of years. Taking up photography and becoming proficient in taking great images with his Leica camera has become the basis of this book.'

'Following the passing of Kohler in 2015, author Martin Port has done a super job writing this adventure, illustrated with over 300 period photos, it also tells how the Land Rover was recently rescued and restored.'