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.