A quick glance behind the workshop while talking for a few minutes with the manager of JP Land is enough to be convinced: Jean-Paul Laenen is a true enthusiast. A devouring passion for the automobile which even drove him to change professions many years ago. The atypical career of an enthusiast At 66, nothing predisposed this original Parisian to become a Land Rover spare parts specialist in France.

“New ones, we have 20,000. But second-hand parts, it is not quantifiable… We are asked for very specific parts. We have the reputation of being untraceable suppliers, ”recalls Jean-Paul Laenen. With customers throughout France and in several French-speaking African countries, JP Land is today one of the two largest suppliers of Land Rover spare parts in France. “But France is a microscopic market compared to the English market …”

In Land Rover paradise in Craponne sur Arzon with Jean Paul Laenen - In Land Rover paradise, in Craponne-sur-Arzon, with Jean-Paul Laenen - L'Eveil de la Haute-LoireMany Land-Rover chassis are now available as new, remanufactured by specialist companies across the Channel (photo Lionel Ciochetto).

Because the country only accounts for 2% of the new Land Rover market across the world. “Nothing to do with countries like Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands or even Italy… I’m not even talking about the United States, Russia, or China or even the Middle East , who are the brand’s biggest customers now. “Because the passion for these 4x4s with very particular and angular lines is international.

Before taking him to Craponne-sur-Arzon, Jean-Paul Laenen’s career is so unique that it deserves our attention.

Go on the roads! It guided my life

This admiration for Land Rovers began when he was a teenager. “I think it was while reading a test bed of the new Land Rover 88 Series 2A that appeared in L’Auto journal… I must have been 14 or 15, it was in 1968 or 69.” At the time, Jean-Paul’s family lives in the Paris region. But the young Ile-de-France has only one desire: “Go on the roads!” It guided my life. However, Jean-Paul becomes a surveyor. A profession he will exercise for 18 years.

1614570318 981 In Land Rover paradise in Craponne sur Arzon with Jean Paul Laenen - In Land Rover paradise, in Craponne-sur-Arzon, with Jean-Paul Laenen - L'Eveil de la Haute-LoireThis angular looking car is one of 32 models made especially for the 1995 film Judge Dredd starring Sylvester Stallone. “The Land Rover design office built it on the basis of military surplus 101 tractors. “

“I even changed boxes to go to a company where there were Land Rovers! », He likes to recall. When he changed companies, he bought his first new Land Rover in 1978: an 88 Series 3. “And at the time for the color it was blue… or blue! “He goes into practical work, but always as a surveyor. “In winter, I went with friends who had a 4×4 garage in the Paris region. Or otherwise I would go to Africa for assistance on the Paris-Dakar. “

Two in 200 m², up to seven employees in 2,500 m²

His professional life changed in 1988. “The A26 worksite had just finished in Reims. I was transferred to the Paris region. But Jean-Paul no longer understands it the same way. At the end of 6 months, he breaks down, and takes unpaid leave. It was there that he landed in Haute-Loire. But why the Haute-Loire? “Of all the departments where I worked, only two really interested me: Ardèche and Haute-Loire! “

In 1989, Jean-Paul Laenen moved to Roche-en-Régnier. “A friend got into the Jeep at the same time. So we teamed up. He had a cousin who had a piece of the building to rent. This is how we got to Roche-en-Régnier. This is the beginning of the adventure.

771,000 km

1614570318 470 In Land Rover paradise in Craponne sur Arzon with Jean Paul Laenen - In Land Rover paradise, in Craponne-sur-Arzon, with Jean-Paul Laenen - L'Eveil de la Haute-LoireAt the wheel of this Land Rover 130 from 1993, Jean-Paul traveled more than 771,000 km! “A Land is a bit like a Swiss army knife: suddenly you change the blade, suddenly you change the handle! This one, I bought it with 463 km on the clock but it was run over… ”So given the time spent driving it,“ I can say that it was my second home ”.

In 2007, much too cramped in Roche-en-Régnier, JP Land moved and settled at the exit of the village of Craponne-sur-Arzon, at a place called “Sainte-Reine” in much larger premises. and with a surface more in line with the consuming passion for the automobile of its manager. “We started with two, in 200 m2. Today, there are 7 of us and on 2,500 m2 ”, remembers the boss of JP Land.

Restoration and spare parts

“We shoot a lot on the old one, and on the restoration of old models like the 88, 109, 90 or 110. (Editor’s note: at Land Rover, the reference corresponds to the length of the chassis expressed in inches). “

Jean-Paul also exhibits at many exhibitions reserved for vintage vehicles (Paris, Lyon, Avignon, etc.). And to illustrate his point, he presents two models freshly restored in his workshops (pictured above): a 1971 109 6-cylinder series 2 A and a 90 TD from 1987 whose chassis has been refurbished.

1614570319 545 In Land Rover paradise in Craponne sur Arzon with Jean Paul Laenen - In Land Rover paradise, in Craponne-sur-Arzon, with Jean-Paul Laenen - L'Eveil de la Haute-LoireJean-Paul next to his mother’s Renault 8 with which he himself traveled nearly 50,000 km. Left: the “organ donor” for a complete restoration (photo Lionel Ciochetto).
“On this one, everything has been changed, except the engine! We must have spent around 200 hours on this model, ”explains the man who is also vice-president of the Rover club de France. On the older model, even the fenders were changed, to put the headlights back on the grille and to age it a bit, at the customer’s request. “This is the example of pieces that we know how to find. “For models that are too damaged, Jean-Paul does not hesitate to buy new chassis, remanufactured by companies in England, even for the old Land of the 1950s.” A Land is not consumable or disposable . We are in another process! “

Lionel ciochetto