Something For The Weekend – Range Rover

| 7 Dec 2012

There have been lots of ground-breaking British cars, among them the Austin Seven, the Mini and, arguably, the Range Rover.

It is to Land-Rover’s credit that it spotted the desirability of a luxurious cabin bolted to a ‘go anywhere’ chassis before anyone else.

Unlike most of the 4x4s that clog our city streets today, the Range Rover had genuine off-road capability thanks to great ground clearance, a low-range ’box and a torquey V8.

The fact that so many still exist is testament to the indestructible ladder chassis that forms the Range Rover’s backbone.

Match that to a functional (and later plush) cabin – plus the commanding view from the driver’s seat – and it is no surprise that the Rangie sells remarkably well to this day.

This also means that there are plenty to choose from. Our specialist in the trade recommends pre-’85 cars as a safer bet – they should be simple to fix and there’s a plentiful supply of mechanical parts. Doors, rear wings, lower tailgate and trim may be hard to come by, but chassis rot is rare, though worth checking above the rear axle.

Potentially the biggest problem today is fuel and paying for it, so many have been converted to liquid-petroleum gas and this is a highly attractive solution. If you did choose to retro fit a system, clubs such as the Range Rover Register would point you in the right direction and there’s a wealth of other useful contacts in our buyer’s guide.

While the Range Rover is indisputably a four-wheeled icon, it has yet to reach iconic prices (apart from the rarest versions), so for £1000 you could have this machine. It may not be the best example (or the best written advert), but it does have a long MoT, an LPG conversion, new sills and a history as long as your arm.

Look for an earlier model – and one in mint condition – and it is easy to spend a lot more. Indeed this example costs almost 27 times that. A clock reading just 21,000 miles goes much of the way to explaining this, as does a Knightsbridge pedigree that means it has been garaged and Waxoyled all its life. Better still, it’s one of 500 ‘In Vogue’ models that came with every option.  

Buy it and you’ll soon discover why they’re popular. “The Range Rover is so versatile,” enthuses reader Alan Blackmore. “You can do so much with it – heavy towing, recovering normal cars from fields – and it’s so easy to work on. People sneer at it, but mine is LPG-fuelled and has no more emissions than their gas fire.”

All of this is enough to put us off the idea of a mint example because it renders it useless for the dirty tasks at which it excels, but if you want something special how about this? Chassis O15A is a Velar development model that was completed on 23 March 1970. Used to test the car’s high-mileage durability, this three-door racked up 100,000 miles in one year with two development teams driving around the clock. Since then, it has led a much easier life, which includes a body-off restoration in the late ’90s and a mechanical overhaul in 2010. Because it is a highly original and historically important car, the vendor is looking for more than £70k.

With values stretching from £1000 to an eye-watering £70k there really is a Range Rover for everyone, and with winter drawing in there can’t be a better time to buy. Follow our buyer’s guide and you’ll bag yourself a versatile British classic without equal.