The specialist: Kingsley Cars

| 4 Mar 2022
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

Range Rovers, almost as far as the eye can see.

There’s a smart new car park full of them, with more in covered storage – and yet more off site (the current count is about 400).

At the helm is an arch enthusiast born less than a mile from Lode Lane, where they were built.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

Rebuilt Rover V8s, at up to 5 litres, are all sent for dyno testing before use

Damon Oorloff bought his first when he was just 19, having seen them come out of the factory gates in a range of captivating colours – Masai Red, Bahama Gold, Sahara Dust, Tuscan Blue – and hasn’t been without one for 35 years, during which it’s been a constant quest to preserve and improve them.

There are no P38s or L322s here: all, apart from a smattering of Series Landies and Defenders, are the original classic as devised by Spen King.

Which is appropriate, because of the 200-off CSK versions built to celebrate their creator, seven are on site: “And we own five of them.”

There’s even a Rover P5B, one of a steady trickle being upgunned with a 5-litre stroker engine and four-speed auto: “I just like them.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

The rebuilds at Kingsley Cars are meticulous

Kingsley Cars, started in 2001, has made its name in restorations, building original Rangies to better than new – and usually enhanced – spec, but Oorloff says 60-70% of the work is “keeping them alive”.

Rebuilds go right back to the bare chassis – which don’t rust as badly as a Landie’s, he says, because they were made by GKN.

“We make our own panels now, and lots of other parts that aren’t available any more. We do our own tailgates, and we’re just in the process of getting window seals done.”

That’s now extended to making exhausts on site, where a former Singer engineer happily welds up ‘bunch of bananas’ bends.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

All the staff at Kingsley Cars in Oxfordshire are enthusiasts

Likewise, engines are built in house: “We use our own cranks, conrods and valves, plus solid lifters, and pistons are made for us by Omega, all of it better balanced than standard.”

Rover V8s can go up to 5 litres, but if that’s not enough you can have a 430bhp, 6.2-litre Chevy LS3.

Kingsley has commissioned its own brakes, too, up to massive six-pot front calipers and four-pot rears, plus springs and anti-roll bars.

The firm’s repro steel wheels look just like the five-spoke sculpted originals – only with a 7in-wide rim.

Trim is done on site, in a separate building, and Kingsley produces period-correct interiors, including those fragile Palomino seats.

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars
Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

Exhaust manufacturer was brought in house, following quality problems

Coming soon is a dry-ice blasting plant that will clean off panels without distorting them.

Rust has long been the biggest issue in a Range Rover: the aluminium body hides corrosion, but getting into the steel structure behind can be a shocking experience, with sills, bulkheads, inner wings and seatbelt mounts all but eaten away in the worst cases.

(Tip: if you want a snapshot of a Range Rover’s structural state, pull out a front indicator. If the mounting box is rotten, then the rest will be, too).

This has led Oorloff to source donors from South Africa and New Mexico, with buyers in Portugal and the US: “I bought three last week, and have just returned from Norway. I hadn’t realised quite how far it was.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

The rebuilt Range Rovers are not cheap, but there is a lot of demand for them

About 20 reborn Range Rovers, both standard and restomods, leave the workshop every year.

A Kingsley car should never rust because it’s far better protected than Solihull managed.

Cavities and the underside are loaded with Dinitrol and Rustbusters product, and Oorloff is most proud of the eight-layer Novol paint process that’s still solvent- rather than water-based: “We’re allowed to use it because we’re a restorer.”

Classic & Sports Car – The specialist: Kingsley Cars

A new, unused shell sits waiting

This does not come cheap, though for your c£125k you are effectively getting a new car.

That number could easily rise to £200k here if you have your perfect car built, but Oorloff is not short of customers.

“There’s more interest in rebuilt Range Rovers than five years ago, and I think that’s because they’re so usable.”

Images: Luc Lacey

The knowledge

  • Name Kingsley Cars
  • Address Eynsham, Oxon OX29 4EF
  • Specialism Restoration, rebuilds and sales of classic Range Rovers and Land Rover Defenders
  • Staff 22
  • Prices £70 per hour plus VAT
  • Tel 01865 884488
  • Web
  • Email


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