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Range Rover

Range Rover Published: 21st Dec 2016 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Range Rover
Range Rover
Range Rover
Range Rover
Range Rover
Range Rover
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Do you drive this great classic or are thinking of buying one? Here’s how to ensure that you get the best out of your car for years to come

Launched almost half a century ago, the original Range Rover lasted in production for more than 20 years and is a classic that can earn its keep as a workhorse. Its simple Land Roverlike design is far preferred to the advanced but frankly awful (in terms of durability at least) P38 replacement although the orignal is hardly a paragon of durabilty either. Happily, there’s no shortage of aftermarket help to keep the Rangie in good health and it’s no problem for the average DIY owner, too. Prices are soaring so it pays to keep yours in the best possible nick!

1. Bottom end

 

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A wide choice of V8 capacities were fitted over the car’s long production run; 3.9 and 4.6 units are a good swap as they provide more torque as well as as much power as you’ll ever need. Bear in mind that TVR used ‘4.3- litre’ block (Rover labelled it 4.2!) although unless it’s a cheap buy you’re better off with the larger unit. There’s little potential for the diesel tuning save for a normal overbore.

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Watch it, as these V8s (4.2 and 4.6 mainly) suffer from porous and cracking blocks. A used unit (check well) will set you back around £500 or a new (short) engine, the best part of £2500 – try Turner Engineering – or a full unit a grand more. Oil changes every 6000 miles are essential if the turbocharger bearings aren’t to disintegrate on TDs. Old lube in a V8 usually leads to cam, rocker wear.

2 Suspension

 

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Tuning parts centre on uprated damping and anti-roll bars (fitted to later variants). Most prominent is Harvey Bailey handling kit. Bilstein or Spax shock absorbers are a good cheap upgrade. MM Land Rover of Worcs sells a kit comprising springs, dampers, anti roll bars and poly bushes for £480. DLS of Derby markets good value Gaz kit for £200 while Richard Varrall’s kit is £600 fitted.

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Boge Nivomat self-levelling strut fitted between the axle and chassis costs £300 odd to overhaul; many remove and fit stiffer springs instead even though ride suffers. Coil spring suspension is reliable if costly refurbish; rot around mounting flanges of the front damper turrets common. Rear damper mountings wear, air suspension can be replaced by standard set up if troublesome.

3. Engine output

 

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Long standing V8 has huge potential (witness the MGR V8 and TVR models) and up to 300bhp is fairly easy to attain via orthodox head and camshaft mods. As standard, the unit came in low compression tune – upping to 3500S/SD1 is the first step. TDs have little scope other than larger intercoolers (especially 300TDi) or best of all a Mazda TD although it costs £7500 if fitted from experts Bluebird Engineering.

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Of the pair, diesels are the weakest link; original VM units blow head gaskets and its quirky design means they are a hassle to replace. Also timing belt replacements are critical on 200 and 300TDis. Fuel injected models suffer from starting maladies and ECU units are no longer available new. V8 head gaskets are prone to fail and the exhaust manifolds often fracture. Stromberg carbs are simple to overhaul; worth it to improve economy.

4. Chassis

 

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If your Rangiee needs new chassis (and there’s not that many of these around anymore), then you can get away with using an early Series1 Discovery frame, which is near identical. Otherwise, it’s a patch and repair job as the specialists concentrate more on Land Rover frames although you can ask Designa or Richards Chassis to see if they can help.

Kingsley Cars (01865 301190) totally rebuilds Classics to better than new standards, with prices around £65,000, and claims it has a lengthy month waiting list. Later models are said to rot worse than early cars but parts are available.

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Rear crossmember rots and things get serious above axle level, and fixing it properly isn’t possible without removing body.

Check bracket which supports the bodyshell (located just above the rear springs). If rusted, body will rest on the chassis. Sills are critical even though there’s a chassis and replacing them is a tedious job.

Galvanised offer rust protection but look wrong after a year out in the open contends Range Rover experts Bluebird Engineering (01978 761615). Typically floors cost £90, inner and outer sills £50 each and front wings over £200; fibreglass under £100.

5.Transmission

 

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Until ’84, only a four-speed manual but overdrive was available; it’s okay plus can be up-gunned – try O/D Spares of Rugby (01788 540666 http://www.odspares.com). You can fit five-speed but need to change bellhousing to suit. Land Rover sold higher ratio transfer gears for an overdrive effect which you can track down still. Chrysler threespeed auto is okay, but later ZF fourspeeder is better. Air locking diffs (http://www.ashcroft-transmissions.co.uk) available as is six-speed Ford auto (Kingsley) albeit at almost £11K!

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Serious off-roading can damage any of the three diffs, so regularly check casings for damage. Leaks are extremely common and maybe something you have to live with! The four-speed gearbox has an inherent whine, and diff locks usually appear slow to engage but that’s par normal as system is vacuumoperated and can take a while to operate. Early five-speeders (LT77) can be frail in service unlike the tough autos. A servo clutch kit from RedBooster.com gives lighter pedal action and sell for under £400.

6. Steering & tyres

 

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Power steering was available from mid ’70s and can be fitted to earlier models although it’s pretty complex and expensive to do; a more pragmatic alternative is to fit aftermarket electrical kit from likes of EZ. A wide variety of aftermarket wheels are available or you can fit later and attractive Vogue/CSK rims to keep it original – early steel wheels are becoming scarce to obtain.

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Steering boxes tend to leak. Play in the box itself is possible to adjust out rather than have to replace although the time will come… Steering column U/Js frequently seize; only cure is new column at some £80. Another common ailment is corrosion of the swivel balls. The only effective cure is to replace entire unit, which costs from £70 depending on car and year.

7. Body

 

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Take your pick from a world of aftermarket customising gear and bling although remember, classic Range Rovers will, in time, be valued on their originality. Parts supply isn’t overly good for doors etc and experts like Bluebird Engineering can see enthusiasts increasingly looking to early four-door models because parts availability is somewhat better.

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Panels get damaged easily, and where the aluminium meet steel, such as where the front wings meet the inner panels electrolytic rust sets in. A and B-pillars are rot-prone, not helped by doors placing strain on hinges and A-post. Upper half of the tailgate rust-prone, pre-’84, rampantly. Regularly remove light cluster to check state of the inner wings. Bad R-Rs not worth saving.

8. Brakes

 

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Are pretty okay if in good order but can be improved easily enough and worthwhile if you tow – plus aftermarket kits cost less than OE if you shop around. Rimmer Bros sells a performance kit comprising of EBC discs and pads plus offers vented upgrade for £200 as well as Brembo brakes. Superior four-pot callipers from later versions can be retro fitted and is a good, inexpensive mod.

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Handbrake operates on transfer box’s rear output shaft; using it to slow causes damage to transmission and the brake shoes. There are no inherent problems with the all disc set up although corrosion can set in if driven in salty water. From 1988 the Lockheed servo was swapped for a Girling unit while late Classics with ABS and Traction control need P88-style brake bleeding technique.

9.Details

 

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Range Rovers started out workmanlike but became as posh as a Rolls-Royce! So there’s no shortage of trim kits for updating but stockstuff is hard to obtain and not durable. Electrics became worringly complex on later cars and can become unreliable, but there’s a range of uprated items such as lights, alternators and so on. LPG conversions remain popular due to V8’s natural thirst but they need expert servicing.

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Headlinings sag like a Jag’s, and repair isn’t really possible; only proper solution is to replace the whole thing at around £140-£300 depending upon type plus fitting. Wiring loom tends to go brittle in the engine bay, especially around the fusebox itself, due to under bonnet temperatures and many are now non standard due to bodges over the decades. Air con trouble invariably means a costly dash strip to gain access.

And another thing…

Strange isn’t it, 20 years since the classic Range Rover was replaced by the P38, their style (and not to mention unreliability) is keeping prices down to £1000 or less! But a good one is an improvement on the original, especially the BMW straight six diesels taken from the 5 Series.

Whether P38s will rise in value is debatable – if any it will be the Autobiography models or something very original. The biggest problem for the home mechanic is their complexity plus dodgy electronic systems (especially the air suspension), all contriving to make it much harder – and dearer – to maintain than a simpler Classic.



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