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Range Rover

Published: 3rd May 2013 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Buyer Beware

  • Rust and over exerted use are the two main worries. They may be tough but neglect and abuse will soon turn this vehicle into an expensive wreck, so vet well before you buy.
  • The chassis is extremely rust prone, especially at key areas such as bulkheads, cross-members, chassis legs, sills and even the fuel tank. You are bound to see patchwork repairs made over the years but hopefully not bodges.
  • The body is mainly aluminium and yes this rusts - as do the steel skeleton they are attached too. The rear tailgate is a noto rious rotter and panels are expensive to purchase.
  • The V8 is well known; generally tough and durable but neglect usually clogs the oil feed to the hydraulic tappets while lack of corrosion inhibitors in the anti freeze furs up the water ways and leads to head gasket failures.
  • VM diesels aren’t well liked (head gaskets let go) and spares supply isn’t too good. Although hardly brilliant, the later Tdi is a better choice.
  • Transmissions are noisy and sloppy but not unduly so. Arduous towing hardly helps either. Like all Landies, oil leaks are a way of life.
  • The suspensions have a tough time so look for shot springs, dampers, bushes and so on The steering always has a degree of play but should not be excessively so.
  • The trim isn’t that sturdy, especially the headlining which falls down and is a sod to re-fi t (GRP ones are better replacements). Electrics are typically BL dodgy so check the systems.
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THE MULTI TASKING MARVEL

Before the Range Rover came along, off-roaders knew their place – and it wasn’t bumping up kerbs in West London. But, in 1970, along came Land Rover’s vision of a car that was just as happy taking pigs to market as it was swanning down Kings Road, with the company unwittingly kick-starting an entire new motoring market – and yours for £2000.

Today, new Range Rovers start from just under £70,000 and, while that sounds a massive jump, you have to equate it to house prices, both now and back then. Did you know that you can pay as much for a new Range Rover as you can for one of the very best originals. That’s how valued classic Range Rovers have become!

Happily, you don’t have to spend that wedge to buy a good one and there’s not many classics that you can enjoy so much, yet feel good in the knowledge that it will also earn its keep. If the recent winter snow had you thinking about a dual role classic, then few have the credentials of a Range Rover.

WHICH MODEL TO BUY?

Credit to David Bache’s design that the original Range Rover shape has stood the test of time over five decades and, while the ‘Mk1’ ran right up to the mid-1990s, the earlier the car, the more it’s now worth.
The car was initially three-door only (although always marketed as a two-door) powered by a detuned 135bhp, V8 engine, and had simple hose-down interior trim. These Spartan early examples now have the most classic appeal, even though the later models are far more civilised and usable.

As Land Rover could sell all the Range Rovers it made, early changes during its production run were surprisingly scant, such as a higher-power alternator, cloth seats and, most importantly, the very welcome option of power steering by 1975.

It was the launch of the four-door in 1981 that started Land Rover thinking it really had something to milk the market with. In 1982 a Chrysler Torqueflite three-speed automatic became available, and in 1983 a much better five-speed manual with a newly developed transfer box was introduced. This transmission replaced the earlier optional overdrive facility and gave better spaced ratios, for improved mid-range wallop as well as a higher top gear for comfy, more frugal cruising.

By now the car had become tailored not just for off-roading. Central locking, counter- balanced tail gate and high quality carpet, plus a healthy options list including air-con, alloy wheels and wooden door cappings, all turned the Range Rover from farmhand transport to an executive express.

Fuel injection signalled the Vogue model of 1985 and, finally, a staggering 16 years after launch, a diesel was offered, in the form of an Italian VM 2.4-litre. For ‘88 a new flagship was launched, the Vogue SE. Coming fully kitted out with a four-speed automatic transmission, Connolly hide upholstery, air conditioning and electric sunroof, it put a Roller to shame!

In 1990 the V8 was increased to 3.9-litres to compensate for the extra weight of all that luxury, with the diesel lifted to 2.5-litres. Anti-lock brakes became standard on the Vogue SE and optional elsewhere.
Just over 20 years since it was launched, the Range Rover was given a comprehensive suspension rethink. Anti-roll bars were fitted, reducing the rather dramatic roll of previous models to acceptable levels – the aftermarket also produced kits to achieve similar results. With the all-new, somewhat blander P38 arriving with its Metrocab taxi looks, the original was given its P45, but not before it was revamped to become the Range Rover Classic, with the addition of dual airbags.

If you are a purist, the 1970s car will be your thing and you’ll put up with the clunky gearbox, Spartan trim and 2CV-like cornering roll. On the other hand, if you want a stylish, reasonably priced all-purpose vehicle which can happily cross a desert, climb a mountain or cruise quietly towing two tons of caravan, go for the latest car you can find.

Prices? You can still pick up a first- generation Rangie from less than £2000, but don’t expect miracles, since to get into something decent you’ll need to spend at least £4000 for a four-door car, while a respectable two-door example will set you back at least double this.

Mint two-door Range Rovers command anywhere between £25,000 and £35,000, if fully restored. If the ultra-rare VELAR pre-production cars to come onto the market, nothing less than £70,000 will buy one!

Range Rover expert Bluebird Engineering says it’s the 3.9 V8 that’s the one to go for, with its reliability, smoothness and refinement because the 4.2 and 4.6 aren’t as durable and autos are a better bet over manuals.

BEHIND THE WHEEL?

Like old Land Rovers, Range Rovers are great fun if you fancy a bit of the rough stuff. It’s just as rugged as the former but much more refined and the ride difference, thankfully, is like chalk and cheese.

The downside on early examples is the lorry-like gearbox which is basically a Land Rover one with a transfer box tagged on. It’s rugged but suffers from a very agricultural change quality, a lot of noise and considerable drive-line shunt. You may love it, but if other members of the family have to use your Range Rover as well they may beg to differ!

Forty something years have not diluted the positive sides of Range Rover driving. That smooth torquey V8 is a delight and the later four-door cars still make remarkable, if thirsty, long distance tourers, especially the longer wheel-based limo like LSEs. As a tow-anything vehicle, nothing comes close.

The V8 is loved for its lusty and still respectable performance, less so for it’s thirst, where 20 mpg was an idle dream, although things improved with the fitting of fuel injection in 1985. The 3.9-litre gave the Rangie some real guts, cutting the dash to 60 to 11 seconds and making this off-roader one of the first ton-up 4x4s, but to little detriment of the economy. The VM diesel fairs quite well (24mpg) in return for less character and performance, although the torque figure from this Italian unit is on par with the Rover V8.

Finally let’s talk about off-road use! Yes, they really were designed for this in mind and despite its advanced years can still teach young upstarts a thing or too. For those who live in rural areas and suffered from the recent snow, a Range Rover is almost unstoppable!

THE DAILY OPTION?

As a second car, school dash-about or towing hack Range Rovers are ideal. Earliest examples sans power steering and saddled with a track-like transmission are hefty beasts and don’t kid yourself otherwise. If you want an easy time go for a late ‘80s model or better still the last of the line versions.

Back to fuel prices, of course, and you can go LPG, not so much to save on mpg as it’s worse but rather on pump costs. However you’re looking at £2-3000 for installation. Converted cars aren’t worth appreciably more than standard ones, but Bluebird Engineering warns that many conversions aren’t done properly and it is “constantly having to put right poorly executed conversions, which means there’s a real safety issue.” If you’re getting it fitted, make sure you get a certificate to prove everything has been done competently. Without one, you could find yourself on a sticky wicket in the event of an insurance claim, it adds.

An alternative to LPG is a better diesel. The 300TDi Land Rover unit slots in, as does a Mazda 3.5 TD which was never sold in the UK. The costs can be as high as £7000 but Bluebird says it’s a terrific modification.

EASE OF OWNERSHIP?

Mechanically they are easy to fix and with great access to the heavy-duty components. There is excellent parts back-up both from Land Rover and a network of specialist suppliers so few worries here. What can be a concern are costs to repair and restore one.

We Reckon...

While we’d find it hard to justify paying more for an original over the latest model, a 13 plater will never have the character and fun factor of the car which started it all off. If you’re after a multi-tasking classic that will also earn its keep on your driveway, then only one car can match a Range Rover... and that’s a Land Rover!



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