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A buying guide to Range Rover

From Farm Track to Kings Road Published: 27th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
A buying guide to Range Rover
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Dave Pollard tracks the history of the off-roader that changed the perception of 4x4s for ever: the Range Rover, plus tells you how to buy a good one

Incredibly, it’s 35 years since the Range Rover brought 4 x 4 out of the farmyard via the boardroom and into the fast lane proving in one fell swoop that an off-road vehicle didn’t have to be utilitarian or unfashionable. Moreover, it found itself at the head of the recreational 4 x 4 niche it created, a post its £60,000 successor still holds to this day.

The Range Rover began its sales life in September 1970, but the press launch took place in June; originally planned to be an impressively exotic on/off road experience in North Africa, when it came to funding, the piggy bank coughed up nought but a few foreign coins and a button or two. So, it became a rather more subdued tea and stickies at the Meudon Hotel in Cornwall. But after a day spent charging around the Blue Hills Mine in St Agnes (a site more used to seeing motorcycle trials competitions) the assembled hacks were smitten – Britain had produced a winner. Incredibly, the Series I (or Classic – take your choice) remained in production for 26 years, morphing slowly but surely from upmarket farm vehicle to luxury lounger on wheels we know and love. For the current classic car buyer, this is very good news, because there’s a huge number of cars to choose from and there’s someone on every street corner selling spares and maintenance parts. In terms of specification, there’s something for everyone; carburettor or fuel injection, petrol or diesel, two-doors or four, manual or automatic and virtually any combination you can imagine. Better still, there’s not much to choose visually and so you can own an older car and still feel one of the jet set. Even up against much younger cars which have had the benefit of CAD/CAM design, the Series I still carries that certain je ne sais quoi that has been its trademark since the off. To celebrate, here are 35 of the most important milestones on the road of the Series I Range Rover’s production!

What to pay

The days of these old Landies going for a song are fast becoming a thing of the past.Yes you can buy a runner, just, for about £500 but for a reliable vehicle then expect to pay around £1500-£2000. There were massive changes through the ‘80s and a whole cart load of spec differences. Aim for the later fuel injected versions and preferably 3.9L, spending up to £3500 for a really nice standard example that’s not wrecked. Production continued to 1996 and you’ll be paying around £7500 at least for a top-class, 4.2-litre long wheelbase model, although prices for the very best early vinyl suitedthree-door is steadily rising. Running a Range Rover costs less than you’d think. There’s a host of specialist companies competing for your spares business, which brings the prices down. Typically, a full exhaust system will cost between £106 - £146, OE-spec Mintex front brake pads between £10 - £20 a set and a set of four standard dampers from £85. Basic servicing (oil, filters etc.) isn’t expensive, either; McDonald Land Rover (01691 657705, www.mcdonaldlandrover. is a specialist dealer where you’ll pay around £117.50 and £176.25 for a 6000 mile and 12,000 mile check over respectively.

35 Milestones in range rover’s history


1970 The Range Rover is launched with a list price of just£1998 (although you could buy a house for that then).

1970 The awards start rolling in, with the Don Safety Trophy and a Gold Medal for coachwork.

1971 It is exhibited in the Louvre museum in Paris as an example of modern automotive art.

1972 It becomes the first vehicle to cross the arduous Darien Gap.

1973 First major revisions include optional power steering, brushed nylon upholstery and inertia reel seat belts.

1974 More interior luxury, with better carpeting on the transmission tunnel and two roof-mounted interior lights.

1975 First option pack includes power steering, tinted glass, front seat headrests and front inertia reel seat belts.

1976 The single tailpipe is replaced by the more efficient twin version. Transfer box gearing is raised by five per cent to improve fuel economy.

1977 Optional exterior mirrors migrate from the bonnet to the doors.

1978 Fairey overdrive becomes a welcome option to aid economy and restful cruising and windscreen wipers are painted black.

1979 The 1980 model is heavily revised with many options becoming standard along with black-finished bumpers, new rear lamp clusters, sealed beam headlamps and tinted glass. Air conditioning is added to the options list.


1980 More carpeting is fitted and the gearbox selector gate narrowed for easier use.

1981 Launch of the trendy In Vogue model - a ‘limited edition’,but the Vogue is still available in MKIII guise in 2005.July, the far more practical four-door version arrives - at last!

1982 Chrysler Torqueflite three-speed automatic gearbox available as an option. The 100,000th Range Rover is built.

1983 The ageing four-speed manual gearbox is replaced by a five-speed, car-based unit.

1984 The Vogue becomes a regular production model. Quarter lights deleted on four-door versions.

1985 In production the frame is now totally welded, rather than bolted together as previously.

1985 Vogue models are fitted with fuel injection and the German ZF four-speed gearbox replaces the American three-speeder.

1986 At last, a diesel option is available. Unfortunately, it is the unloved 2.4L (later 2.5L) Italian VM unit.

1987 The metal grille with horizontal slats becomes plastic with vertical slats, bonnet hinges are concealed and new bumper end caps are fitted. The tailgate lock moves from outside to inside – a very popular move. All V8s are now fuel injected. The Range Rover is launched in North America with a similar spec to the UK.

1988 The chain-driven (quieter) transfer box is introduced, central locking extended to the tailgate and the Vogue SE (special equipment) is the flagship with standard leather trim, air-conditioning and ZF auto ‘box.

1989 The 3.5L V8 is replaced in the UK by the 3.9-litre model, with an optional catalyst exhaust being standard on the Vogue SE. Door hinges are made flush with the bodywork, all models have ventilated front discs and anti-lock brakes are available.


1990 A polyurethane safety fuel tank is fitted and front/rear anti-roll bars are standard on Vogue/SE models. The two-door CSK (Charles Spencer King, the creator) model is announced, all of which utilise a 3.9L V8 with five-speed manual gearbox.

1991 All models receive anti-roll bars and the manual gearbox is slightly upgraded.

1992 The long wheelbase Vogue LSE appears with a 4.2-litre 200bhp V8, traction control and air suspension – effectively a ‘mule’ for the imminent Series II. Petrol-engined cars are fitted with catalytic exhaust systems. The VM diesel is ditched for Land Rover’s own 200 Tdi version as used in the newly landed Discovery.

1994 Smooth look dashboard is introduced complete with twin front airbags. The diesel option is uprated to the 300Tdi. With the launch of the Series II, the originals are badged ‘Classic’.

1995 To celebrate 25 years of RR production a 25-car convoy (one from each year) drives from Solihull to the Tower of London.

1996 Production ceases on February 22nd. Noel Edmunds drives the last - the 317,615th - car off the line.

    What to watch out forwhat to watch out for


  • It’s a Land Rover, which although sounds tough enough means one word – rust. The ladder chassis needs to be totally sound check particularly the rear crossmember (roughly up behind the bumper) and if it crinkles in your gloved hand, walk away. Always crawl underneath to check the chassis and running gear for off-road damage. Does the car list and does it run true on a test drive?

  • The steel floors and wheel arches rust happily to themselves, but there’s lots of proprietary repair panels available or you could just have them patchwelded. The upper and lower tailgates are notorious for it but again numerous replacement options are available.

  • Most of the outer panels are aluminium, which don’t rust of course, but there’s usually electrolytic reaction where alloy meets steel. It’s also prone to damage and too much means a careless driver or a real offroad enthusiast – avoid both.

  • Those V8 engines go on forever if they’ve had regular oil changes; check for a thick sludge in the filler cap. If you find it, you’ll also find gungedup tappets and a shot camshaft. It also needs a 50/50 coolant mix all year round to prevent the aluminium block from corroding.

  • Diesel engines are fairly reliable but won’t stand being overheated. They’re prone to cylinder head warping and cam belts snapping – build in a replacement cost into any car you buy.

  • The later the car, the more complicated electric gadgets were fitted – make sure everything works, because fixing can be very expensive. Folks are asking silly money for the very early, tax-free, models, but for that small saving, you’ll be getting an uncivilised car more suited to life on the farm.

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