It’s a drive Jim, but not as we know it

4

Author: Russell CampbellPublished:

It’s testament to quite how ‘tuned in’ I am to my surroundings that it has taken all of six months for one of my most memorable drives to resurface in my consciousness as something worth sharing. But I’m glad it has.

When I say ‘memorable drive’ I don’t mean it in the traditional sense (documented by the Jag below): the roads were of no particular interest, the scenery may well have been immense, but it was too dark outside to tell – hell, I wasn’t even driving.

But the joy of being a passenger can be underrated.

You miss out on much: actions and their reactions mostly, but that just frees up precious matter to properly mull over other considerations – character, window reflections, noise, ride and cornering sensations.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about outside factors that make modern-world driving so miserable.

At least, that’s how I felt as I was loaded into the back of Martin Buckley’s early 3.5-litre Range Rover two-door, gently simmering on a couple of pints, having just completed the god-awful procedure that is the office Christmas lunch.

It had all the hallmarks of an entertaining trip – I’d never been in a car with Martin before – but somehow I knew he would be ‘good’ for some entertainment.

Mother Nature was in a playful mood, too. In fact, she had laid on everything I could have hoped for: a whistling wind, driving rain and standing water.

Sometimes, against all odds, things slip perfectly into place in my life and, as we hurtled towards the now barely distinguishable horizon, I knew that this was one of those lightning-strike moments.

I’d admired Martin’s purchase from afar already, but it was much better in the metal.

The V8 is nothing short of a masterpiece, hustling the 4x4 along with aplomb, while simultaneously drowning you in a wave of NASCAR-esque power ballad.

It may not be the first vehicle that would jump to mind if one wanted to move quickly, but that it actually can is a credit to the ‘do anything’ ability that forms the Range Rover’s soul.

It’s a while ago now, so forgive me if rose may have tinted my goggles, but I don’t remember the body roll to be any more than a stern warning not to take the mick.

Neither rabid nor terrifying, the contents sliding in the boot just added to the sense that the Rangie could gently, ever so slightly, massage cornering forces, dispatching them in a manner far better than expected.

The weather conditions, meanwhile, mattered not. They added drama, sure, but they left the Range Rover similarly unfazed as it ploughed through deep puddles with supertanker-like momentum.

Buckley – who in my eyes had now taken the form of the leading character from a river-based children’s novel – was doing his bit, too. Stirring the gears and blipping the throttle with such infectious glee that even the most radicalised of tree-hugging funaphobes could have been saved.

I, of course, was already beyond help having happened upon my idea of motoring nirvana, an unsurpassable ford (except, of course, for Range Rovers) being the only tangible element missing from the fairy tale.

As ever with these things, it was all over before it had properly begun and I had been delivered to our HQ’s car park with little more than – an admittedly cheaper to run – pushbike for comfort.

But I knew I had witnessed something that would stay, albeit very well hidden, in my brain for life. The V8 that I had heard so much about was even more intoxicating than I could ever have imagined. The thought of regularly fuelling one would keep me up at night but, one day, I simply must.

Comments

Chris Martin

Nice work Russell. A different perspective from the usual tales of hustling some million-dollar multi-cylinder tool around Tuscany/Derbyshire/Arizona (chose one). As I have long shared Buckley's taste for a British sixties lifestyle that is part fantasy and part fish & chips, as well as his taste in cars that would probably have been a hoot of a ride anyway, but add in the British weather's fun and games, and the odd ford, and the you paint a believable picture. The last car with which I tackled a ford, WAS a Ford, a Model T in fact, which like the Range Rover could stride through while moderns did U-turns and cursed their Sat-Navs.
Another reason your tale intrigues; the first series Rangie is one box I have yet to tick, but the idle moments scouring eBay do seem to be increasing, and anyway, for someone used to a 450SLC the fuel bills would be small change. There are plenty here in Australia, although most have had Chevy transplants and been wrecked, but we live in hope.

 

Russell Campbell

Very nice of you to say, Chris! For the record, I don't want to rule myself out of hustling some million-dollar multi-cylinder tool around Tuscany/Derbyshire/Arizona.

McLaren F1 in Arizona, since you ask.

The man responsible for keeping Ford's Heritage fleet running had also offroaded a Model T, this time in Scotland, and shared your enthusiasm for its ability.

I've never been in a 450SLC, but I dare say I would like it!

I get a feeling the early Range Rovers - especially the two-doors - are only going to go up in value, prices here are already getting crazy, but to take that engine out would be an absolute sin.

Thanks for reading!

Zagato

Hi Russell, I too have had the pleasure of being taken for a ride by Mr Buckley, an experience that also lives on in my mind. He was taking me to see a Ferrari 400i that he was trying to flog me (successfully, as it turned out) and we were in his rather shabby but also rather magnificent RR Shadow 1 in a most fetching shade of Gold.

The way he flung the Shadow down the lanes with no regard for either the forces of gravity or the price of fuel was nothing short of heroic. I reckon it was costing him at least a fiver a mile in four star alone but boy was it fun!

I love to see old cars bombing down the fast lane and I must confess that I tend to drive my classics a fair bit harder than most tree-huggers would approve of. OK, it may cost more in fuel and wear-and-tear, but the pleasure is intense and I enjoy seeing the dropped jaw of Mr Normal in my mirrors as I blat past his Audi/BMW/Merc execubox in a car that is far older than he is.

So foot to the floor boys, we'll all be dead soon anyway!

Small print disclaimer: In no way do any of us condone dangerous driving but sometimes, on the right day at the right time in the right car, a man's gotta do...

Zagato

Chris Martin

Seconded !

 

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