By Laura Braune Smyer
For fifteen years after its inception, 30A’s quaintly idyllic beach community of Seaside was a little-known secret gem of a vacation spot along Florida’s Emerald Coast. But in 1996, the master-planned New Urbanist beach town hit the big time when it was chosen as the primary location for the filming of Jim Carrey’s next blockbuster, The Truman Show.
Acclaimed Director Peter Weir’s wife told him about Seaside, and he was immediately sold on the location. One of Seaside’s original homes — the perfectly precious yellow and white cottage at 31 Natchez Street — was well on its way to becoming perhaps the most recognizable building on 30A.
Truman is a classic 1986 Land Rover 90, and now he’s our official 30A mascot.
Truman was first put into service on August 29, 1986 (Registration ID: 61KF77), and the last unit he served was the Royal Wessex Yeomanry, an armored regiment of the British Territorial Army. Our overseas friend found him abandoned on a military lot, so we bought him in August 2012 and immediately began our restoration project.
Truman’s body was in good shape, and under the hood, he has a 200 Tdi (Turbocharged Direct Injection) diesel engine. Almost all of the restoration work was done overseas, and we asked our 300,000+ 30A fans for input and help throughout the entire process, including what color we should paint it (we opted for Light Stone, one of the British Ministry of Defense’s official colors).
We incorporated many of your suggestions, including adding a 12,000-lb plasma rope winch, a rear-mounted British MOD water can, a snorkel, a tone-on-tone 30A logo painted on each door, new seats and more. We even let 30A fans choose its name … and they voted for “Truman,” after our community’s most famous — if fictional — resident. After much nervous anticipation (and bureaucratic paperwork), our Land Rover 90 eventually cleared U.S. Customs in Jacksonville. Then on March 29, 2013 — after 8 long months of work and waiting — Truman finally rolled into Santa Rosa Beach, where he’ll live out the rest of his days basking in our Florida sunshine.
Truman was featured in the July 2013 issue of Land Rover Owner International magazine. “We can’t think of a better place to go ‘topless’ in a Defender — what a stunning location.” ~ Editor’s Choice 1st Prize
L.A. Photographer Sean Murphy captured these beautiful photos of Truman.
BritPart featured Truman in their 2014 Land Rover Calendar… He was September. =)
Truman was featured in VIE Magazine’s annual Men’s Issue (Feb 2014).
Truman was featured in the Winter 2014 Issue of Rovers Magazine.
Truman was featured in the September 2014 issue of France’s Land Mag.
Check out these photos of Truman’s transformation from a military workhorse into semi-retired ‘Sand Rover':
Designing an Idyllic Lifestyle Along Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A
Originally featured in BEACHES, RESORTS & PARKS magazine
Since the very beginning of time, mankind has demonstrated a special knack for ruining a perfectly decent Paradise. It seems to be somehow ingrained into our genetic code. As picture-perfect as any place may be, we tend to believe that we can somehow improve upon it.
That’s always been the problem with writing about an “undiscovered” piece of pristine paradise—as soon as a few folks learn about it, you can bet that it won’t be too long before there are condo towers, water slides, goofy golfs and loud cannons blasting off to spoil that otherwise serene sunset.
Time and time again, Paradise is lost. Lost to greed, poor execution or just a general lack of vision.
Burt sat on the pollen-laden hood of an otherwise maroon Honda Accord. It wasn’t his car, of course, but that didn’t matter. “This is a public beach,” he thought. “I can sit wherever I damn well want.”
He shifted his dark eyes up and down the bike path, scouring for a potential victim.
“Slim pickins today,” he thought.
Burt was a diehard local, having grown up along the Emerald Coast. In all his days, he had never strayed far from the water. He couldn’t explain why. Something primitive anchored him here; something ancient. Perhaps it was the soothing ebb and flow of the Gulf. Perhaps it was just the fresh seafood.
Still, Burt was a shiftless drifter; routinely meandering from Ft. Walton to Destin to Panama City, and back again. But this 20-mile stretch of sugary beaches along 30A was his favorite.
In case you haven’t had time to enjoy a South Walton sunrise lately, we condensed this one down to 60 seconds for you…