7th June 2021

Range Rover Classic: Confessions of a serial offender

I bought a Range Rover Classic in 2009. I did so on a whim, because I’d always loved them and because there was a Plymouth Blue V8 for sale locally. Unfortunately, this was my first experience of unrequited love and it broke my heart. Despite my best attempts, I couldn’t make the relationship work and a complete electrical meltdown of pretty much every system in the car resulted in a premature separation.

It took 12 years to recover from this setback, but I was once again ready to subject myself to potential heartbreak. However, I’d do it properly this time: research, view several cars, know exactly what I want and buy with the head, not the heart.

On sale in 1970, the original Range Rover was produced until 1996, although its replacement, the P38, actually launched two years earlier. It wasn’t until this point that the original cars gained the ‘Classic’ moniker. Examples from the ‘70s, known as Suffix A through to Suffix F relating to their VINs, can now fetch well into six-figures. At this price you can chose from original, restored or restomods with anything from modern V8s to electrified powertrain, but what are the choices for someone on a vastly reduced budget, who wants to use and enjoy their Classic as Spen King intended?

Rust is a killer of the Classic. As a helpful person may tell you, pay particular attention to the bits between the front and rear bumpers. In reality, the boot floors are known to rot out, as are sills, both inner and outer, slam panels, inner arches, around the front screen and the upper tailgate, of course. The electrics don’t have a particularly fearsome reputation for robustness and nor does the air suspension as fitted to very late models.

My mind was made up. I was going to shun V8 convention and aim for a manual 200tdi with as few toys as possible, including manual seat adjustment, which had been well used with maintenance to suit. And it had to be Ardenne Green with ‘teddy bear’ cloth interior.

I’d just about drawn up my list of desires when I spotted what looked like the ideal example in a local classic auction. There was no time to view or to dig too deeply into its history, but I wouldn’t be daft enough to bid at such short notice anyway.

I registered to bid online.

I bid.

I won.

So, after ignoring my rules relating to calmness and buying with a level head, what have I ended up with?

A straight, honest example with a stack of history and many new parts. It’s been welded, but is solid and, shock horror, doesn’t leak in a torrential rainstorm. Plus, it was cheap. It drives straight, the 200tdi starts perfectly, as they always do, pulls really well and additional sound deadening enhances its levels of refinement. Unfortunately, not enough to hide the fact that it’s in dire need of a front differential. Oh well, we can’t win them all.

Have you ever allowed your heart to rule your head? Is your experience of buying blind a tale of love or horror? Let us know in the comments below.