Mamma Mia: Why Meryl Streep chose a Land Rover

Cher! Meryl Streep! Pierce Brosnan! The Mediterranean! Abba! Land Rover? There’s a backstory to how Mamma Mia featured Solihull’s finest. Here’s why

A fearful byword that drives most petrolheads to drink, 2008’s Mamma Mia! has developed cult following in such measure that, ten years since the original premiered, a sequel opened in cinemas yesterday.

Yet, it’s easy to indulge in the art of Abba-bashing. But delve into the original’s merits and there’s more than initially meets the eye – there’s even an aspect for those of a Land Rover persuasion. It may only appear on screen for a short time, but the old 4x4 within Hollywood's Abba-fest was hand-picked for good reason.

The producers of the first film sought a vehicle that represented Meryl Streep’s character. It couldn’t be new or flashy – but it had to have charisma. Director Phyllida Lloyd had only one vehicle in mind.

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Witnessed on screen as Donna’s (Meryl Streep) daily transport, for a classy lady down on her luck, it had to be an old Land Rover. Furthermore, as the film’s underpinnings came direct from the 1970s, it had to be a Series III.

The producers then contacted the Land Rover Club of Greece, requesting a suitable vehicle and – more precisely – a short wheelbase. It had to have the roof removed, and the owner had to have a liberal attitude to cameras mounted on the bonnet. Needless to say, the Greek Land Rover community was more than happy to help.

The Series III 88in was provided by an owner based in the town of Chalkida, employed by the film crew for a number of days in the Mount Pelion region. The windscreen was removed and the paint scheme changed to a lighter shade of green. However, one other modification had to be made…

Meryl Streep apparently adored the old Land Rover. So much so, that no trailer was needed when cameras rolled. Most actors opt to have any car towed in order to focus on their script delivery – but Streep instead tanked down the mountain roads at 40mph, sharing the Solihull vehicle with Julie Walters and Christina Baranski.

Yet, while Streep found the Series III pleasant company, she couldn’t summon the brute force required to manoeuvre the Landy around. Thus, power steering was fitted – a move befitting of most purists’ wrath.

The Land Rover is still used by its owner as a weekend runaround, but don’t expect to see it in this months’ sequel – helmed by director Ol Parker.

When producers came knocking to the current vendor of the original Mamma Mia! Land Rover, they were told where to go. According to those in Greek Land Rover circles, the owner no longer brings the vehicle out – for anybody. Not even Streep could persuade the off-roader out of the garage.

So, the producers took to the classifieds, and found a perfect candidate in Germany. It was a race against the clock – the perfect one was a hot commodity. Several parties were after it.

This is when Ingo Hoffman found his landline red-hot. Confusion reigned, as the vehicle had only been on sale for 24 hours. A Land Rover enthusiast himself, Ingo was delighted that such a well-heeled production company wanted his vehicle – although the purists won’t like the outcome.

To replicate the look first seen ten years ago, the paint had to appear sunbaked and the windscreen had to be removed. Basically, a rather healthy example was subjected to a reverse make over. A bit like rubbing Cher's face with sandpaper.

Like Meryl Streep before her, Amanda Seyfried was spotted enjoying the basic charm served up by the British Land Rover throughout the sequel's production. Instagram showcased this snap of her exploring the Greek surroundings on a break from filming:

The trailer for the second incarnation of the Mamma Mia! story-arc has been trending for a while now, with Hoffman’s Landy appearing throughout. See if you can spot it:

As for the Land Rover's role in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again? You’ll have to wait and find out…

Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, which also stars Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Lily James, Cher, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, and Jeremy Irvine alongside the Land Rover, is scheduled to be released on July 20, 2018.

Non-Abba songs that could be about Land Rovers:

  • Disco Inferno
  • Start of the breakdown
  • Keep on Running
  • Always on my mind
  • Don't fear the Reaper
  • I'm on fire

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