By on March 26, 2013

I once owned a 1995 Range Rover. Looking back, I’m not entirely sure why this happened, but I suspect it may have something to do with a well-known car enthusiast theory about British cars: “they can’t all be that bad.”

 

Last week, Murilee’s junkyard find stirred up memories of my Range Rover, primarily because mine was about as reliable as the one Murilee found in the junkyard. It also spent just as much time moving under its own power.

I’ve decided to provide a review of the vehicle, which can also be viewed as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of taking the plunge into old Range Rover ownership. For those who would rather watch videos on Jalopnik, I can sum it up in just six words: they can all be that bad.

A Brief History

Before we go any further, don your Wellies and grab your foxhound, because we’re taking a walk down Range Rover memory lane.

The original Range Rover was a two-door model that came out in 1970 to serve the queen and farmers who wanted to be comfortable. A four-door model debuted in 1981, reportedly pleasing the queen so much that she pursed her lips in a slightly upward direction and excitedly adjusted her pearls. The 1992 model year marked the arrival of a long-wheelbase version, which allowed groups of foxhunters to remain swathed in luxury as they waited for a tow truck.

My Range Rover was a 1995, which is generally agreed to be the pinnacle of the entire 25-year Range Rover Classic run. That’s because it combined the handsome old-school body with major technological breakthroughs like airbags, a tilt steering wheel, and – I swear this is true – backlit center console switches. Clearly, Land Rover was a force in the luxury vehicle world.

Why I Wanted It

When I got my Range Rover last fall, I already had three other vehicles. One was a really cheap 2012 Volkswagen Jetta company car, equipped with air conditioning but not floormats. It also used the exact same engine as the Jetta III, which came out when I was entering the first grade. Truly. Number two was my station wagon. And number three was a different four-door German company car, this time with a rather bulbous rear end. This, I suspect, will be the focus of about 40 percent of the comments, so I will address them now: 1) like a big 911; 2) really fast; 3) yes, I really did quit Porsche to become a writer. My colleagues are as mystified as you.

For those who haven’t yet switched to those Jalopnik videos, this totals to 17 doors and 16 seats. The problem with these vehicles was that none of them could go off-road, and each one started whenever you turned the key. Something had to be done.

In reality, the plan was to ditch the Jetta and sell the wagon, keeping only the Porsche and the old Range Rover. This would be brilliant. Then I had a practical daily driver that doubled as a sports car, plus a weekend off-road toy that could tackle Atlanta’s harsh road conditions, which consist of occasional light rain and people from Florida.

How could I go wrong?

So I began searching AutoTrader.com for used Range Rovers. Eventually, I found a good one in Raleigh, North Carolina, and negotiated a price. Despite a door-to-door distance of less than 400 miles between me and the seller, I had it shipped to Atlanta. Even I’m not crazy enough to spend six hours behind the wheel of a 20-year-old British car.

Driving the Dream

I was elated when the Range Rover showed up on the back of the car hauler. Things went downhill from there.

Let’s start with exterior styling, which – let’s be honest – is the primary reason one buys a Range Rover. I found mine to be absolutely beautiful, mostly because it was green. All old British cars should be green, except for old Bentleys, which should just be whatever color is finest. There were, however, a few exceptions to my Range Rover’s beauty. The first was that the roof had been dented severely in what appeared to be a rainstorm of iron basketballs. I believe there is no other explanation, except maybe hail.

The second issue was that mine had five-spoke wheels. Land Rover put these on in the Range Rover’s final years to keep it looking modern, which is almost laughable given its styling. I ordered the famous gray three-spokes for mine, which – no surprise – were readily available at dozens of junkyards nationwide.

Things got a little worse inside. Of course, it wasn’t all bad. For example: step into an old Range Rover and you’re immediately treated to one of the great glasshouses in automotive history. Visibility is so wonderful that you will immediately curse all modern cars, until you remember that its superb sight lines probably come from a complete lack of any structural crash safety elements.

Aside from the snow-globe view of the world, the interior was mainly bad piled on top of worse. The seats came up to my neck, which – in a rear-end collision – would’ve provided about as much protection as patio furniture. The dashboard had no design at all, aside from being cobbled together in pieces over 25 years. And although there were cupholders, I didn’t really trust them, as one of the rear ones had been installed upside down.

Things were also less rosy than I had hoped on the road. Pressing the gas pedal, for example, unleashed noises that traditionally came from an industrial-strength pressure washer, though it rarely resulted in actual acceleration. Braking happened … usually. And while steering was surprisingly tight, the car’s body roll scared more than one passenger and probably dozens of other drivers.

The bright spot is that the Range Rover was, in fact, surprisingly capable off the pavement. It only ran long enough for me to take it off-roading one time, but it had no problem tackling any sort of terrain when I did. This is the Land Rover way: reliable and comfortable in alligator-infested swamps, but requires a new transmission every time you drive your children to school. Maybe they’re trying to tell us something.

The Verdict

I bought mine in September and it was gone about three months later. Not because I hated it, but because it violated my long-standing “three tow policy,” which requires banishment of any car that requires three calls to Triple-A. This thing required three calls in three months.

Worse, the calls were for inane things. Once, the door locks drained a brand new battery. Another time, a tiny piece of plastic smaller than my fingernail lodged itself in the gear selector, rendering the entire 4,000-pound car unusable. At one point, the AAA operator chuckled when I mentioned my year, make and model.

There were, of course, other minor issues. The ABS light would occasionally go on. The heated seats never got warm, though one could argue any heating element that doesn’t catch on fire in a British car is, in fact, working. The cruise control was broken. The driver’s side rear door didn’t unlock, while the rear hatch didn’t lock. And on one occasion, part of the rear bumper fell off on the highway.

In other words, it was the finest Range Rover Classic in existence.

I eventually sold the Range Rover to a man in Dallas who also had a Series I Discovery with a manual transmission. He’s the perfect person for it, because he knows exactly what he’s getting into. I, however, went in thinking “they can’t all be that bad.” Like so many car enthusiasts before me, I was wrong.

Doug DeMuro operates PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

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136 Comments on “Doug’s Review: 1995 Range Rover Classic...”


  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “All old British cars should be green, except for old Bentleys, which should just be whatever color is finest.” Ha, yes.

    It looks so good though, parked at the bottom of that dirt hill. If it could talk, it’d say “I’ll be waiting when you return. I probably won’t start though.” It’d only be better if it said VOGUE on the back like they do in places European. I’d also accept VITESSE.

    I think I’d feel so prideful walking out to this thing from an average trip to the grocery store. Pulling the sideways door handle to climb up into the crooked, unergonomic interior.

    What’s the wind noise like on the highway? What were your general observed MPGs?

    • 0 avatar

      Wind noise on the highway is unknown, since the engine drowns out ALL other noise, even if your passenger is yelling at you. In some senses, then, it may be the perfect roadtrip car if you have little kids.

      I never measured fuel economy, but my guess is – honestly – 9 mpg. And I used premium. Plus, you never really wanted to take it down to empty because do you really trust an old Land Rover fuel gauge? So I was filling up all the time.

      As you say, though, I always felt great getting in it. Though I got the feeling other people just thought of it as a crappy SUV. Wonder why.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Nah they thought you were old money! Especially at 9MPG. Crikey.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          I’m eternally disappointed that we’re no longer able to talk about any car, of any kind, any where, without getting to OMG the gas mileage. On the FIRST post.

          I know that I’m not the only person who knows exactly what flatbedding a car costs. Or replacing a transmission after flatbedding it. Or not showing up for an important job because I was stranded costs. Or a year of recent car depreciation costs. Or any of the other $7,500 surprise sexes that life has for us.

          But when other people who must also know those things seem more interested in $75 fill ups than the big bills, I start to think that I’m the only person who’s ever bothered to do the math.

          • 0 avatar
            noxioux

            I’d say that 9mpg fuel consumption IS a major expense. Even when gas was under 2 bucks, that would be a hard pill to swallow.

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            When buying used, exactly how many of those 40 cent miles are you intending to commute in a classic that breaks down (at a couple hundred bucks a pop, more if it’s a loud pop) every month or two?

            When not buying used, how many of those 40 cent miles does it take to become meaningful against the 1200 bucks a month it takes to lease and insure one?

            Perspective please.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            If you’re that eternally disappointed, you’d better get off the Internet. There are a lot worse things that happen on here than me asking an MPG question. Nowhere did I say OMG like some schoolgirl.

      • 0 avatar
        lankruza

        The late classics had an experimental airbag system that requires maintenance. If you’re the sort of chap who’d faint if he broke a nail, you should stick with your Porsche. Classic Rangies are proper old school off road trucks with ladder chassis and beam axles, which makes them popular as competition trucks. The coil sprung version that came out in the 70s revolutionised 4WDs and nothing comes close to matching the classic Range Rover for style and purpose to this day. Are you sure you even like cars? You sound very tired of pleasure. Cheer up you silly sod! I don’t own one, by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      DoubleChevron

      Having driven old Citroens since I first got my license (about 20years now) …. I figured buying an old Range Rover actually seemed like quite a sensible decision. Well my “sensible” daily driver for the last decade has been a 1985 Citroen CX2500 GTi Turbo that was never sold here …

      I’ve got to ask though …. You really had to “ring” for assistance because a little bit of plastic wedged in the gearchange…. And a flat bed tow for a flat battery ?? I doubt even my wife that knows nothing about cars would have needed help to sort that…. Have you ever heard of jumper leads… LOL… You let a little bit of plastic stop you driving the car …. I guess a broken finger nail would stop you driving too. This article is just hilarious.

      Thanks for the read, it’s certainly a laugh. If your man enough to try an interesting car again … Try putting a few tools in the boot of the car … and a set of jumper leads (I’m sure if your stuck, one of the soccer mums in the car park will show you how jumper leads work).

      Also get something that has a proper gearbox, slugomatics take all the fun out of driving. Me?? I found an old ’85 Range Rover Classic, carbies, proper manual gearbox, no anti roll bars, 3.5litre V8 that seems to make about 50hp @ 5000rpm ……… Bloody hilarious to drive. Then again, it’s bodyroll seems quite unspectacular compared to the Citroen 2cv (no don’t try a 2cv, I imagine it would be way to much car for you).

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Another great piece, Doug.
    I have had two moments like this. First, I didn’t really know Audi’s reputation when I bought the last year for the 100 body style, known as the A6 by then. So it was a fun lesson to learn first-hand.
    The second was an “it’s so cheap I’d be stupid not to” Mitsubishi 3000gt. I’m pretty good with a wrench, how hard could it be? Luckily the water pump had already blown up on the dealer’s lot (That smoke? Just oil burning off since it’s been sitting so long) so I was able to return it for a full refund after a few weeks of arguing.

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! You got lucky on the Mitsu. No one gets lucky on Audis. My neighbors had an Allroad and a 100-body A6 up until about three weeks ago when both cars were gone and a brand new Acura RDX appeared in their driveway. Ahh, Audi. Another customer lost.

  • avatar

    Great piece Doug, thanks. Another remimder of why one, if not a member of the 1%, should never ever have one of these.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      What’s group of people is the 1% your talking about?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        People who live in Aspen.

      • 0 avatar

        The 1% who have another 5 or 6 ubber mobiles lying around. The 1% who can fork over thousands of dólar for routine maintenance and not whince. The 1% who hold over 40% (or is it more?) of my country’s wealth. That 1%.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          I see…

          By uber you mean very nice?

          I know a ton of people that make 5 figures with that many or more vehicles lol, they just do all the work on them.

          I have 6 myself but don’t consider myself rich by our standards.
          (definitely not Dumb/rich enough for the hassle of a RR)

          If your talking about the richest 1% in the world, isn’t the cutoff to being in the 1% at (equal to in usd) $36,000? or was it less?

          • 0 avatar

            Naw, I’m talking about the 1% in the US and Brazil. I’m pretty sure they make much more than 36k a year!

            Ubber or uber forgot the right spelling is taken from the German Anthem (Deutschland Ubber Alles) and has been used to describe the dynamic German luxo barge trio.

            As to 5 or 6 cars, I’m pretty sure lots of people do it there and are not specially well off. In my corner of the world lots of people would do it but simply don’t have the space. One day I want to have a few, but then I’ll need a place to keep them. So, I’m still a long way off.

            My point though is that, even though I see their appeal, I really do, they’re are not ideal for those who live on a budget and depend on it to get around. There are better things to spend money on. That’s just my opinion of course. If someone out there feels the need to have something like this, more power to them. I think there are plenty of cars out there that’ll provide just as much fun but for much less money.

          • 0 avatar
            Omnifan

            The 1% reference could also pertain to the “more money than brains” category of motorist.

            Great story.

  • avatar
    CoastieLenn

    I can’t decide if I LOVE reading this article or HATE it. Nearly every day that passes, I have an urge to go out and buy a nice condition old Rangie or even a Disco Series I.

    I don’t know why, but the alure to them is overwhelming!

    • 0 avatar
      BeyondBelief

      I have a 1996 RR P38 with the mighty four liter mill for sale. Owned it ten years.

      You haven’t lived until your electronic air suspension decides something is fishy, resulting in the car lowering itself onto the bumpstops. On the freeway. On Friday of a holiday weekend. Towing a 3500 lb boat and trailer.

      And it’s green. Do we have a deal?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m in the same boat. I know I am going to buy one someday, probably to replace my bulletproof Jeep Grand Cherokee. In my defense, I am quite capable of doing my own work, and it will be an early example with as few doodads as I can find. I figure just keeping working air conditioning will be enough of a challenge, working air suspension is just a pipe dream.

      But on the other hand, I only use my SUV for SUV type things – deep snow, towing, off-road, it’s not a daily driver thus the mileage is minimal. Handy to have around though, and it would be nice to have one old enough to run on antique plates and classic car insurance. Those alone would make up for the fuel economy difference, though not the repair price difference.

  • avatar
    gessvt

    If Dave Barry was a car guy, we would have had years of columns like this. Excellent writing.

    Back in 1999, my neighbor had a 1995 like yours. At four years old, it spent most of its days broken down in the driveway, likely the result of my neighbor coveting a Classic on a starter home budget. That memory will never fade.

  • avatar
    friedclams

    I dunno Doug, are you being too hard on the old girl? Sounds like its faults were pretty minor. Any old car needs to be debugged. If the transmission blew up, then blew up again, or if it repeatedly ate head gaskets (like an Olds I used to have), I’d agree it was a stinker. But the door lock thing sounds pretty trivial (with an old car, I’d just pull the fuse to the door lock circuit and call it good).

    I understand it was not the right car for you, but are these really as bad as people say?

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      It seems to me that if you’re somewhat mechanically inclined and don’t have an oversion to “pulling fuses” like you mention, then these cars aren’t all that terrible. I’ve not heard of anyone blowing up and major drivetrain components until this article. The number of old Rangies that I see on the roads here in Charleston (most mildly lifted and wearing a nice coat of mud) would lead me to believe that they’re not all that bad, hence my continuing draw to owning one.

      I always hear about stupid little electrical faults though.

      • 0 avatar
        BeyondBelief

        I agree. My own P38 has not revealed one drivetrain shortcoming in 130k. Stupid little electrical faults OTOH…well, not little exactly. I’m pretty sure mechanics don’t enjoy these conversations: “Good news…we’ve finally figured out that your series of baffling electrical problems are due to a faulty body electronic control module. More good news…it only takes an hour and a half to install and test. The bad news is the part is $2,000 and may take awhile to get.”

    • 0 avatar

      Here’s the problem. I put a battery in the Rover the very first week I had it. It drained that battery the very first WEEKEND I had it, because the door locks would perpetually go up and down until the battery was dead. Honestly. So I had to leave it unlocked.

      A few weeks later, that tiny piece of plastic broke off inside the transmission selector, which required a flatbed. The plastic piece was maybe half the size of a dime.

      My view was this: if door locks and a dime-sized piece of plastic can stop this thing, I don’t want to be around when bigger problems arise.

      As with literally everything, though: your mileage may vary. But there’s a reason so many of these are in junkyards.

      EDIT: By the way, the reason I had to leave it unlocked rather than actually fix the doors is because the actuator cost something like $650. That was another issue: the parts haven’t depreciated like the rest of the car.

  • avatar
    tpepin

    Thanks for this article Doug, you’ve cured me “temporarily” of my desire to own one of these. There’s a mechanic around the corner from my office who uses our parking lot to store his service and sales vehicles. He specializes in Rovers, so I drool every day as I pass by various Discos and assorted other Rovers.

    I too have thought to myself “They can’t be all that bad”. And if they were I could have Lars fix mine while I work, how convenient! I think to myself except that I would end up having to work just to pay Lars.

  • avatar
    slance66

    Nice piece Doug. And it doubles as ammunition to discourage my wife in her passionate pursuit of an Evoque. I know, it’s new and the engine is a Ford, so I’m tempted to say…”how bad can it be”? When I hear myself saying that….I will be reminded of this.

    • 0 avatar

      You should know: after I sold my Classic, I bought a newer Range Rover! Don’t show this comment to your wife.

      • 0 avatar
        nine68

        Doug, ping me if you need a good indie Land Rover shop in Atlanta. Mine has kept my ’02 P38 in excellent shape. It’s across the street from my indie Porsche shop, which has taken care of various Porsches and Audis for nearly 20 years.

        My cars can almost drive themselves to these shops, and often do when there’s extra cash in my wallet. Any my wife follows me in her Lexota to give me a ride home.

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Great read, thank you!

  • avatar
    cargogh

    “This is the Land Rover way: reliable and comfortable in alligator-infested swamps, but requires a new transmission every time you drive your children to school.” was ever slightly funnier than “foxhunters to remain swathed in luxury as they waited for a tow truck.” Just terrific.

    A couple years ago I talked my friend out of buying one of these he found on Craigslist. The owner would only let him test drive it in the owner’s front yard. “Don’t put it anywhere that requires backing up. Reverse is out.”

    My friend, “The steering seems jerky and I think it needs new brakes. So a few repairs, it really looks nice. What do you think?”
    A month earlier he was bent out of shape for a week when his gf left his something on and ran the battery down on his Acura. How dare it not crank. I said no way. He did not have the money, spare car, or fortitude required to own one.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “A couple years ago I talked my friend out of buying one of these he found on Craigslist. The owner would only let him test drive it in the owner’s front yard.”

      Isn’t this like every enthusiast car though? Every idiot on Craigslist thinks their E30 BMW is the greatest remaining copy of the E30, except that the X, Y, and Z don’t work. But it’s perfect other than that. Yeah right.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I love the unending snark in your articles, Doug. I have no reason or desire to ever buy one of these things but it’s fun to read about someone else’s Range Rover hell. They had one of these things on Wheeler Dealers recently and all I could think about at the end of the show was whether or not the buyer knew what they were getting themselves into. (Fragile everything and ~9 MPG, how can you go wrong?)

  • avatar
    Idemmu

    I’m not a fan -I swear this is true- of this guy’s writing.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    “I’ve decided to provide a review of the vehicle, which can also be viewed as a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of taking the plunge into old Range Rover ownership.”

    In other words, Doug is doin’ a bona fide & respectable solid by trying to prevent even one of you boneheads without a very large “fix/repair daily/weekly” war chest from committing suicide by Land Rover.

  • avatar
    George Herbert

    I’ve certainly violated the three-tow rule, but I generally drive cars to destruction by old age or incident. Six tows over 12 years and 200k miles is very different than three in three months.

    Lemon green, very pretty, but the repair costs are not so sweet…

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    My brother-in-law bought one of these new in 1995. We were visiting his home so I volunteered to drive him to the dealer to pick it up. It broke down on the trip home due to an ECU failure and the dealer towed it back for repair. He got it home but it wouldn’t start the next morning. This was repeated many times over the 7 years he owned it. He had money, so I’d bet he put at least the equivalent of the purchase price in repairs into the POS. I asked him why he hung on to it for so long, his reply; “I feel like a god when I’m driving it”.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Ah, memories. My Dad sold my Mom’s Volvo 760 Turbo and bought her one of these back in the mid 90′s (he had a tendency to do that sort of thing) and none of us ever forgave him for it. Highlights:

    - The front driver’s-side door latch broke pretty early on; for a year or so, we opened the car by opening the rear driver’s-side door and yanking on a piece of twine that was tied to the inside front door latch. It cost $800 or so to fix, as I recall.

    - The rear window stopped reliably staying shut shortly thereafter. If you drove over a decent-sized bump in the winter, you were about to get very cold.

    - One time when I was merging on to Storrow Drive during morning rush hour (ask anyone who’s spent any time in Boston), the thing decided that it liked first gear so much it didn’t want to get out of it. I drove at the redline at about 15mph for one terrifying mile with Massholes yelling at me as they raced by, finally managed to get off the road, parked at a meter and called a cab. When we took it to the dealer that afternoon, they couldn’t find anything wrong.

    - The radiator started to give out at about 60k miles. We learned to shift into neutral wherever possible, particularly coasting downhill, to preserve what we called “white space” – i.e., the space on the engine temperature gauge below the red zone.

    That said, she was a beast off-road. We had a farm in the New Hampshire mountains and there was just about nowhere that she couldn’t get to. I drove through rivers and cornfields with no drama whatsoever.

  • avatar
    Fonzy

    I bet the Land Cruiser loves the Range Rovers’ reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Fascinating…
      As of this posting, there are 72 other comments here and not one instance of the word “Toyota” within them. Your post contains the only instance of “Cruiser”.

      A direct competitor that solves all the Range Rover’s reliability and build quality problems is almost completely ignored. How come?

      • 0 avatar
        glwillia

        I looked into buying an old luxury SUV that has serious off-road chops. The two that best fit the bill are Land Rover and a Toyota 4Runner/Land Cruiser.

        Most Land Cruisers you’ll find that aren’t completely beat are either modded to hell and back, ridiculously expensive (price an FJ40 sometime), or both. The same is true of Jeep Wranglers/CJs. Old Range Rovers typically are unmodded, cheap on the used market, and have low miles (probably because they only ran about 2 months out of the year).

      • 0 avatar
        tentacles

        Even new, the Toyotas are MUCH more expensive than an equivilant Rover. e.g. the Land Cruiser 200 in the US starts at around $80k, compared to what, $44k for an LR3/Discovery? The GX is somewhere around $60k IIRC and the LX close to $100k, roughly similar to the RRS and RR. You can quibble about how exactly comparable they are but the Toyotas are Body On Frame with live axle rear ends, and generally not as well equipped as the Land Rovers with fancy independent rear suspension and all the other doodads. The Toyotas are also hideously ugly by any standard, let alone compared to the LRs which are generally acknowledged, even by detractors, to be very good looking. This is extremely important as these vehicles are marketed almost exclusively to women, and women will pick a good looking piece of crap over an ugly good car any day. If you gather up total sales of the Discovery, RRs and RR (i.e. leave out the FWD garbage), you will find that they easily outsell the Toyota Land Cruiser derivatives (LC, LX, GX).

        A large part of this is due to the very strong Yen and concurrently very weak Pound. Before 2008 JLR was a basket case company that has never made any money for anyone, presumably because of their continued failure to grasp that whole “build cars that run” side of the business. Ford couldn’t pay anyone enough to take this albatross from their necks. The financial crisis forced an almost 50% devaluation to Pound Sterling, and it turns out that if the financial markets arbitrarily decide to cut your costs in half while doubling your revenues, and do the exact opposite to your Japanese competition, even the British can make great cars, and JLR profits have been soaring ever since. They’ve even opened up a new plant in the UK.

        It also helps that this new lease on life just happened to coincide with a huge expansion of the market in China, a huge market of Anglophiles who also have no institutional knowledge of cars, and where 1 car in 3 is an Audi.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          98% of what you just said is complete rubbish.

          -The RR competes with the LC and LX in price and customer, NOT the LR3.

          -Men buy a LOT of these, they are not marketed/for women.

          -Yes, if you add up all sales of RR products (all 4 models) you’ll have a higher number than the ONE MODEL of LC/LX. If I add up all Volvo sales last year, it’ll be more than the Scion xB. What’s your point?

          -You cannot cut your costs in half and at the same time double revenues, and attribute it to currency exchange. That’s fallacy.

          -Yes, one car in three in China is an Audi, so they do sound like big Anglophiles don’t they? What is an “institutional knowledge of cars?” Aside from a term you just made up.

          Please go be a complete idiot somewhere else.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          “…women will pick a good looking piece of crap over an ugly good car any day.”

          This must be a primary reason the Evoque is selling so well.

          Any true “car guys” intuitively know that Evoques will begin their rapidly disintegration at the approximate 3.5 year mark of being “in service,” and that their residual values will reflect this in the form of a chart having a slope any ski pro would love to tackle.

          Many of them will come onto dealer lots as trade-ins or off lease, rarely if ever having the hood opened, let alone the fluids or filters changed, no doubt…

          Faux-luxury is back, with women driving their Evoques wearing vanity plates reading “POSH” and such…

          • 0 avatar

            We live in an age of vulgarity. Discretion is unfashionable.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Well said.

            There was a Top Gear episode that actually had a good segment that spoke to this point, where Richard Hammond reviewed two convertibles (the Renault Mégane CC and the Peugeot 307 CC), and ended up poetically making the case that these two cars were symbolic of the disposable, gaudy, substance-less consumer products (like cell phones) that people basically acquire and treat as throwaway items (so the engineers and bean-counters put lipstick on crap and crank it out for short life cycles).

            I loved the part of that segment where Hammond summed up this tragic, modern day faux-ness by stating “it makes me sick just thinking about it.”

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        There are three issues with older Land Cruisers:

        #1 Because everyone THINKS they are super-reliable, they cost an utter fortune. And yet the old inline-6 motors are not particularly long-lived, and parts still cost a fortune.
        #2 They RUST. They RUST like they are sitting at the bottom of a hot salt bath. Did I mention they rust?
        #3 They drive like a semi truck with no load on. The Range Rover, for all it’s myriad faults, is actually quite nice to drive in a soft and rolly-polly sort of way. A Land Bruiser almost requires kidney belts for all passengers.

        • 0 avatar
          mkirk

          Which is why you buy an 80 series. They are super reliable in the way a piece of industrial equipment is super reliable. They have to be maintained rigoursly though. My 93 is rust free and it is the best driving solid front axle vehicle I’ve driven. My 1FZ gave 255k miles and died early. I know 2 people personally with 400k plus on the 3FE (old school 6 in the 91-92). Oh yeah, 255k and the seats arent torn and every interior option is 1. still attached and 2. still works.

          As to sales, keep in mind the USDM sees a very tiny cross section of the Land Cruiser Line. We don’t get the workhorse 70 series nor the current (200 series?) in the basic diesel work truck the rest of the world gets. I suppose we sore of get the Prado as the FJ Cruiser, but not really…the Lexus GX is closer though. I am not a fan of the 200 series, but having driven some basic versions in the ‘Stahn, they are capable rigs.

          Parts are not small block Chevy cheap, but I have a hard time believing the Range Rover does any better here and you get to buy a lot more parts for it.

          The 40 series trucks do ride rough, but then again this is a short wheelbase, leaf sprung vehicle that left the market in 1984 and is closer to the Defender than the Range Rover I would think. The 60 rides better due to the longer wheelbase and the 80 with its coil spring suspension is in another class. The 100 seies (US market, not the 105 series sold in the rest of the world) is a different beast with the v8 and IFS. Still capable but different than the older ones.

          Anyway, perhaps the Land Cruiser’s aren’t so reliable as their reputation would make one think, but they aren’t even on the same planet as a Range Rover reliability wise.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            Just caught up with these replies and thanks to you all.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “They have to be maintained rigoursly though.”

            Yes, this is why a Land Cruiser would probably not be good for the audience on TTAC who thinks changing oil every 5K and transmission fluid every 60K is OCD. As I’ve mentioned before, the guys on ih8mud work hard to keep their rigs running.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As much as I like the basic styling of these old Range Rovers, I’ve avoided them mostly due to their well known reliability issues, that and theres nowhere locally to off-road them.

    If this were carsurvey 89% of the comments would be “I’m 17 and I have a 1891 Rang Rover that has 400k miles on it! I love it and haven’t had it towed once! You must be bad at maintaining cars if you can’t keep ur Range Rover going for 4000k!”.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      LOL. Carsurvey.

      “I have a 94 Corolla LE-SV .28Exs-Luxury, or some other trim level only sold for one year in western Sudan. It runs so good uses little petrols and has many new tires times!”

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    They aren’t all that much worse than Volkswagens.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    If this is what happened to the relatively-simple Series-I model, imagine what’s going to happen to all of those Series-III models in the future, which, by the 2010 facelift, was cobbled together from an assortment of BMW, Ford and corporate-sister Jaguar parts…

  • avatar
    willbodine

    Great write-up. Some things never change, and Range Rover’s last place ranking in the Power reliability surveys is one of them. Am currently trying to sell a 2000 Jag S Type 4.0 with only 37k miles. It is part of an estate and sat for over 2 years. Have spent over $2,000 for various fuel and engine problems, and it will take another $1,000 to get the a/c working. It has always been so for British cars. My question is, why? Are there no talented engineers in the UK? High quality component suppliers? Well trained/motivated assembly line workers? Pre-production testing regimens? Answering these questions would make for a good future article. Or several.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      I feel like some of it has to be a combination of engineering, parts suppliers, and then testing. Does anyone know how pre-production testing differs from manufacturer to manufacturer?

      No one seems to have an answer as to why British cars seem to have these issues other than blaming Lucas for the dark arts.

      • 0 avatar
        18726543

        @ corntrollio:

        I used to work with a guy who was an engineer for RR back in the 80′s and early 90′s and I posed this same question to him once. His reply was that the lower sales numbers that Range Rover vehicles sell at (comparing the above vehicle to a Civic, or Camry, or similar) meant that only lower-rung suppliers were available to them. These suppliers didn’t have the QC controls or manufacturing talent associated with the suppliers that OEMs producing 350k or 400k units-per-year models had.

        I don’t know if this is entirely correct since it was just his assumption, but it was based on his experiences (visiting with suppliers for audits and such). It sounds somewhat logical.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          Thanks for the great answer, 18726543. I wonder if building the Evoque will improve quality because they will produce more units per year by having a cheaper car that people want to buy available (the Freelander never sold in big numbers here).

          You’d think having BMW parts in the 3rd gen would have made it at least slightly more reliable. Is there any evidence that the 3rd gen (owned by Ford when released, but originally developed with 7-Series parts, which were later jettisoned in favor of 5-Series parts) RRs do better than prior generations?

          The 4th gen was probably partly developed under Ford, I’d imagine. I know the Evoque is a revised Freelander platform (i.e. based on Ford’s EUCD).

    • 0 avatar
      JD23

      British production methods haven’t advanced since the Victorian era.

  • avatar
    phxmotor

    No “real car guy” ever buys a car…sight unseen…and then has it shipped because a 7hr drive “scares him”.
    The writing may be cute… but any proof of being a real “car guy” is out the window.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, I did it several times! Though I certainly don’t claim to be a real car guy…

      The thing about an inspection with one of these is that they will always find DOZENS of little things wrong. You just have to accept the minor flaws and only address the problems that actually sideline the car.

      Also, though I didn’t mention it in the article, this particular one had a pretty comprehensive rebuild (including an engine rebuild) from a well-respected shop in New York only about 18 months before I bought it. Which probably makes its ensuing problems even worse.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        It really depends on what you’re looking for. I personally would get a pre-purchase inspection on almost anything to know what I’m in for. However, I can see why not everyone would think that for a car this old (a ’95 bought in 2012).

        If you’re buying a 20-year old Rover, you could be looking for an occasional off-roader or you could be an enthusiast. You’re probably not looking for this to be a daily driver in this scenario. The standards which I’d use for a daily driver are different from those that I’d use for an occasional Sunday-driver.

        Furthermore, if you think about the price that we’re talking about for a 20-year old car of any make and the typical state such a car is in, you have to have limits — there is stuff that will be worn out or that will need to be replaced in the next year.

        If you want a 3-year old used car for daily driver purposes, shoot for the moon, by all means. But if you want to buy a 20-year old car, you’re probably going to have to live with the, “well, the X, Y, and Z don’t work, and on cold days, the W doesn’t work either. I’ve been trying to solve the problem for 3 years to no avail…”

        • 0 avatar

          Exactly. I, too, would get a PPI on something that I was going to depend on. I would also get it on something that could lose me a lot of money, like an old Ferrari or similar.

          But on the Range Rover, I KNEW that X, Y, and Z wouldn’t work, which is why I didn’t bother. It’s almost like I was buying an E30 :)

    • 0 avatar

      Are you saying Doug’s into fake cars?

      …or that he’s a fake man?

  • avatar
    Acd

    Great article as usual Doug.

    So maybe you can help me out with something. Lately I’ve been seeing some 1990′s Jaguars for sale really cheap and I’ve been thinking that maybe it would be fun to have one. Not all Jaguars can be that unreliable…….

  • avatar

    Quietly chanting “Yay Jeep!” while reading.

    Look, ZJ Grand Cherokees weren’t great either, but they tend to break in more predictable, less costly ways. Also cost less to start with, at least originally.

    • 0 avatar

      …and there’s that beautiful, powerful 5.9 Limited model, which I will now spend the next 20 minutes searching for on AutoTrader.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      ZJ?

      Nah. SJ Grand Wagoneer or nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        bodayguy

        Agreed! I have an 89 Wagoneer. Look, if you want that classic SUV flavor, it’s the better choice. It breaks down too, but the parts are cheap(er) and it’s not scary for a casual weekend mechanic to fix.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          Actually, the previous-previous generation (very much before pre-ChryMoCo bankruptcy) XJ Cherokees with the 4.0 liter inline 6 were quite reliable vehicles and easy to work on for shadetree mechanics, if what I’ve been repeatedly told is remotely true.

          It seems that those who actually owned them for long periods of time and even abused them had consistent praise for the 4.0 liter motor as somewhat bulletproof (I even remember praise for the 4.2 liter inline 6).

          • 0 avatar
            bodayguy

            My parents had one of those I-6 Cherokees. I loved that thing, but it had issues too. And unlike a Wagoneer, the engine bay wasn’t so big and wide, so not as easy to work on.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            When you say “Wagoneer,” are you referring to the SJ or XJ one?

            It’s my understanding that the older SJ was bigger, as you said, and it was also body on frame, whereas the XJ Wagoneer was unibody.

          • 0 avatar
            bodayguy

            sorry yeah I’m talking about the Grand Wagoneer, not the fakey Cherokee version

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The model designations got sort of confusing with the transition from AMC to Chrysler, so that’s understandable.

            I am not even confident that the main difference between the XJ and XJ Wagoneer once Chrysler took over AMC was essentially the application of faux wood panel cladding, as I suspect.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @Deadwieght

            An XJ Wagoneer is the exact same thing as an XJ Cherokee, but with a fancier interior and the faux wood paneling.

            I specifically sought out an inline-6 powered WJ Cherokee when I went SUV shopping. The parts are cheaper, the access to the engine is FAR better, and it gets MUCH better fuel economy than the V8-powered trucks. Power is entirely adequate – this ain’t no sports car. For comparison, I have a friend with an ’04 V8 WJ – on the same roundtrip to Boston where I would get 24mpg with my 6, I got 18mpg with his V8. Same speeds, same load, same weather. 6mpg is a HUGE amount when you are down in that range.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            KR, thanks.

            So it was only under AMC that their was a very much larger, body on frame SJ Wagoneer, and then once Chrysler purchased AMC and began revamping the Jeep line, the Wagoneer really was carried on in name only, essentially being the same as the XJ (with a few cosmetic differences).

            I think that’s fairly true?

            And yes, that’s a huge difference in fuel economy between the I6 and the 8 cylinder, even by today’s standards.

          • 0 avatar
            bills79jeep

            Here’s something you’d NEVER do with a RR – when I replaced the engine in my ’98 XJ, because #1 cyl lost compression, I swapped it with a junkyard motor that had 237k miles on it. Risky, yes. But, the 4.0 has that kind of reputation. Knock on wood, but I’ve yet to get strike one on the 3 tows rule.

          • 0 avatar
            rnc

            98′ XJ, with the I6, 216k (when engine gave) and the owner before me didn’t take good care of it (1 blown head gasket, due too the almost unheard of scenerio of 15 degrees, south carolina, 4-5 month old infant and temp red-lines a mile from house but damned if I wasn’t going to get back there in that situation), wish I had replaced the engine, still see it everyday, inside and out has held together extremely well. Do not know if I was just lucky or not.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            @Deadweight:

            The way I think it worked was that in ’85 or so the XJ “Wagoneer” was introduced.

            At the same time the old SJ Wagoneer became the “Grand Wagoneer” and continued on with the AMC V8 and SJ platform until ’91.

            Then there was a ’93 ZJ Grand Wagoneer…

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Thanks, aj. I’ve never been able to keep the 80′s era Jeep Cherokee models clearly separate because of that transition from AMC to Chrysler (even though I didn’t even have my driver’s license yet at that time).

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Terrific article Doug ! made me smile and laugh .

    I used to date a lady who’d lived in Africa , they had several of these turds , she always took the lone Mo-Ped to town as she hated walking…

    Me , OTOH , I think the R.R. looks terrific and I love and own vintage LBC’s I press into daily driver service , being a Journeyman Mechanic I can keep them running fine cheaply (terrific fuel economy too) but the R.R. doesn’t seem a good bet to me now matter how you slice it .

    One of these days I’ll foolishly buy an old 6 banger Jag ~ Malcom does it and has no troubles .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Joss

    I remember an old English expression for 1%ERs “They’re off to the tip in the Rolls/Jag/Range Rover because the ashtrays full.” Tip means dump i.e. money-to-burn wheels are being retired early on a petty whim.

    Now I see the logic.

    In England nobody complains. Except at the weather. Rain begat British Leyland & British Rail.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      This HAS to be one of the reasons Brits are so much more fond of VWs than Americans.

      In fact, if tolerance of (or even a desire for?) mechanical break downs can be related to masochistic tendencies, this would explain a lot about the British psyche.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    REALLY entertaining article. TTAC appears to have its own Ezra Dyer. Keep ‘em coming!

  • avatar
    daveo1538

    This makes me want to buy a Classic, because I’m that kind of idiot. I bought a 1995 1/2 4.0 SE (first model year: smart) in 2003 or so, and it immediately began to bleed me dry. Electrical issues, overheating, and myriad gremlins that come with Rover ownership. A couple fun issues stand out: The over-engineered ultrasonic alarm drained the battery any time it was in the vicinity of an active RF device, so the truck needed jumping every time it sat more than 2 days. I always knew I’d need a jump when the message center told me I had a transmission fault in German. Every square inch of the vehicle was monitored by a sensor, so the phrase ‘bonnet open’ sends chills down my spine to this day. The AC never worked, and the heater core died, and I live in MN, so I was perpetually either sweating profusely or staving off hypothermia. The inner driver door handle linkage broke, so I became as proficient as an Olympic gymnast at vaulting the center console to exit the passenger side. Add another $4k in various cooler lines and fluid leaks, and you’ve got the picture. And I may yet buy another, because there’s nothing like riding like a king, seeing everything around you, and being able to climb a 45 degree pile of plowed snow. And because I’m a sucker: I now drive an X350 Jaguar XJ with a recently-replaced rear end and a near-constant ‘engine coolant low’ message. But does she ever purr…

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    You gotta watch out for Floridians in Atlanta? I I doubt most of the people riding the Mickey Mouse Express on those Delta 757s and Air Tran 737s that stream overhead all day between here (MCO) and ATL are locals leaving town.

    Side note on that route…I miss the good ole days of L-1011s and 777′s doing that run instead of the narrow bodies. Damn economy. I need more RB211 three holers or GE90′s in my life.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I thought the 757s were being phased out, esp in favor of the “new” 737s.

      • 0 avatar
        Acd

        Delta still has plenty of 757′s flying, many of which came in the Northworst Airlines purchase a few years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        As Acd said, several of the airlines still have 757s in their fleet. 757 production has stopped (I believe a while ago — maybe 2004-2005 range) in favor of the 737-800/900. Delta still has a ton, as do American and United, and USAirways has a decent number, but many fewer than the others. UPS still uses a lot of them in cargo configurations.

        Airlines do prefer the 738/739 because its hourly operating cost is about 2/3 that of the 752.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        My unofficial “what’s flying overhead today” count says that Delta definitely has plenty of 757s and it’s the primary airplane for that route. I imagine that Delta would continue to fly the 757s on that route as replacing them means buying something newer than a 20 year old Douglas designed twinjet with a t tail and they seem to have an allergy to anything but that…I’m only 50% kidding there – they have almost as many 717s on order (from SWA) as new 737s from Boeing.

        I do still see the occasional widebody subbed in on the route, but not sure if its a seasonal capacity increase or just equipment substitution (broken plane)…probably seasonal as Lufthansa has also been upgauged from a330s and A340s to 744s for a little while now. Do still see the DL 767′s from time to time and actually saw one of their A330s on final within the last month.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Nice report. For reasons unclear to me, I like hearing about commercial aircraft.

          • 0 avatar
            tjh8402

            I personally think that love of cars and love of aviation goes hand in hand. Doesn’t seem that remarkable.

            You are somewhat right about the 757s being phased out. United is replacing them with the 737-900ERs and 737-9 maxs (no word on what will replace the 757-300…787 seems like a bit much airplane). American had split their order between 737s and A320/A321s, and US Air was going to replace theirs with the Airbuses. Now that the two airlines have merged and you have Airbus loyalist US Air in control of primarily Boeing loyalist American Airlines, it remains to be seen how those orders will flesh out.

            Delta is a special case with their love of used airplanes. When American retired the P&W powered 757s they got from TWA, some became freighters, but some carry on their passenger legacy with…yup you guessed it. I cracked when I read a comment from someone that Delta will probably be the last airline to fly their 757s out to the desert…and when they do the crew will fly back on an MD-something.

            The challenge is that neither the 737-9 nor the A321 are 100% 757 replacements. They can cover probably 90% of what the 757 can do, but there are certain niche routes that are either long haul (3500-4000 nm) or payload heavy that the smaller narrow bodies just don’t have the range or payload capacity to do. If you ever want to start a flame war over on airliners.net, just go make a comment somewhere about how Boeing needs to bring back the 757…I think someone starts one of those petitions about once a month.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “Delta will probably be the last airline to fly their 757s out to the desert…and when they do the crew will fly back on an MD-something.”

            Sounds as if Delta is a BHPH customer of the aviation world.

            I’m surprised Airbus hasn’t tried to capitalize on this 757 niche market with a stretched 320 variant.

            You may find this interesting, according to Wikipedia, the DC-8 still sees active service:

            A total of 14 DC-8 aircraft (all variants) were in active service (more are stored) as of December 2012 with the following operators:[10]

            Airlift International (1)
            Air Transport International (4)
            Brisair (1)
            BTL (1) for Government of Togo
            Expo Aviation (1)
            Force Aérienne du Congo (1)
            Meridian Airways (1)
            NASA (1) Airborne Laboratory.[11]
            Transair Cargo Service (3)

          • 0 avatar
            nikita

            Sitting here a few hundred feet from where the “Fly DC Jets” sign still hangs proudly on the building where those DC-9/MD80-90/717′s were built, I cant resist chiming in.

            Northwest had the oldest fleet and when Delta acquired them I thought all the old twinjets would go. What Delta discovered is just how low the operating costs are on thinner routes. So, the regional jets went away on many routes and the “Douglas” twinjets, which passengers much prefer to the regionals, took over. As for the 757 vs 737NG, a passenger doesnt care. It has been the same diameter tube from the original 707, six narrow seats abreast in coach.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            “The challenge is that neither the 737-9 nor the A321 are 100% 757 replacements. They can cover probably 90% of what the 757 can do, but there are certain niche routes that are either long haul (3500-4000 nm) or payload heavy that the smaller narrow bodies just don’t have the range or payload capacity to do.”

            Yes, that’s definitely true. For example, lots of airlines are using 737-800s for LAX/SFO to Hawaii, but something slightly further like PHX-Hawaii still needs a 757. I believe Alaska uses 738s for PDX/SEA to Hawaii, but certain times of the year, they have to stop in Oakland on the way to refuel. I know US Airways was looking into whether the A321neo could do PHX-Hawaii, but with headwinds that could be a problem, as well as the heat in Phoenix. The A321neo might be able to do KOA-DEN, but not the reverse.

            757s are also often used on transatlantic routes that don’t have enough volume for a wide-body. For example, BOS-SNN, when American used to fly it regularly, had a 757. I’m not sure if a 738 could handle that now — if you had bad headwinds coming back, you might have to stop to refuel in Canada. An A321neo could probably just barely handle BOS-SNN, but JFK-DUB would probably be too far for it.

            757s also handle transcontinental US flights very well during times of the year when we have severe headwinds. An A32x or a 737 might have to stop to refuel somewhere between Indiana and Colorado during periods with strong headwinds, but the 757 never would.

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      Delta was more regularly running 767s on that route. My understanding is that the 777s that ran ATL-MCO were largely for ETOPS certification plus plane utilization between intercontinental turnarounds. But that was probably only 1 run/day, maybe 2 at most — the workhorses were always the 737s/757s, no?

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @ controllio – I just checked MCO’s flight schedule. The Mickey Mouse Express is shown as all 757 with a 763 on two of the flights. I show 737s scattered about…couple from Cincinnati, one from SLC, one from LAX, and a couple from the NY area. overwhelmingly, the hubs use 757s. ATL, MSP, DTW…the 757 is the workhorse between those cities and MCO.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          Yeah, that fits with my recollection. When they run wide-bodies ATL-MCO, it’s usually a 767, not a 777, although they did use a few 777s back in the day for the reasons I said.

          I’m not surprised the big hubs like ATL/MSP/DTW use 757s — you can cram more people in, and those hub flights tend to run pretty full.

    • 0 avatar
      tjh8402

      The problem for the 737s and A320 series aircraft on those longer routes is payload capabilities. Long range versions of both aircraft exist. You have the ability to upgrade the commercial aircraft to business jet specs, which in both cases includes over 6000 nm of range. The challenge is that you can’t carry a 757 sized passenger load that far, both because the aircraft has to carry so much fuel it can’t carry the passengers, and because you have to use the smaller versions of the plane (737-700 and A319). With that smaller load, the operating cost advantage of the 737 and A320 vanish vs the 757. The problem is, to get a 739 or A321 to reach such distances while carrying a similar load to the 757 would require a redesign of much of the plane (wings, landing gear, and bigger engines). However, there are not enough routes of this nature to provide a market case for such an extensive redesign at this time.

      As justifiably beloved as the 757 is by aviation aficionados, it only ever sold just over 1,000 ships. I love the 757. It is a unique aircraft that can do things that no other airplane can do. It’s performance, especially acceleration and climb are breathtaking, and the throaty buzz saw growl of those RB211s (my preferred powerplant) is intoxicating. But it is a niche market (as in cars, there’s a difference between what the enthusiasts want and want the market wants). It has the lowest sales number of any other Boeing jetliner (if you combine the 707 and 720 into one). The 737 Max has more orders on the books than the sum total of 757s ever delivered over the aircrafts two decade history, and the Max is still only a paper airplane at this point and years away from its first flight.

      There was much discussion before Boeing launched the 737 Max if they were going to launch a 797 as a new narrowbody. It was rumored to try to cover both the 737 and 757 missions. Unfortunately for Boeing, Airbus read the market better, realizing they wanted incremental change now vs dramatic change in the future. With the wildly successful launch of the A320 Keanau Reeves edition, Airbus forced Boeing to rush a re engined 737 to market to compete, which pushed the new narrowbody’s development back.

      apologies to Doug for hijacking his story, but this tangent has been fun so far.

  • avatar
    markholli

    Even after reading this, I still want one. That’s the evil black magic of the Range Rover…

    For those, like me, who have always wanted a Range Rover I have a suggestion inspired by the comments above: buy a non-running Rangie with a very clean interior, have it towed to the top of a mountain, or some other scenic place, then just go sit in it from time to time.

    Alternate idea: Buy Classic, convert to SBC, remove all non-essential electronic functions, glue the windows shut.

  • avatar
    ghillie

    I have a 1976 two door Range Rover. I love it – the style, the driving position, the view out, the engine note – everything.

    It’s not a daily driver. It’s slow, but rides very nicely even on rough roads. It’s thirsty but I don’t drive it often enough to care. It’s a classic weekender I drive when I feel like going up in the hills.

    It has no electronic anything. No A/C, no power steering, no airbag suspension, manual windows, manual ‘box, no central locking and no sunroof. The mechanical components are very strong and there’s not much else to go wrong.

    But if I had a later one and it behaved like Doug’s, I think I would soon tire of it.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Add me to the list of the Range-Rover-curious. I’m somewhat used to having a constant stream of oil leaks, driveline vibrations, and other mechanical issues and subpar fuel economy from my old MPV (nothing as bad as 9mpg on premium though!), perhaps it was just preparing me for future Rover ownership! The Mk II Rovers, particularly the 4.6 HSE models, look incredibly sharp. Discovery IIs are also very attractive, and priced in the $6-8k range for decent lower mileage units with service history. There is something to be said for traditional SUVs with legitimate offroad prowess and a big dose of luxury.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I kinda get the interest in these, but my God, look at the con’s: expensive parts, labor – unless you’re doing it, and it’s like throwing money in a lake (which IS the definition of boat ownership – been there, done that!)
    My boss worked at Enterprise during college and he said that every customer that rented a range Rover came back thanking them for showing what they were like. All WERE interested in buying until that fateful time in the rented model, then they couldn’t get back to return it fast enough.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Wrecker services around the world are rejoicing. The new Range Rover Sport is lighter for easier, more efficient towing.

  • avatar
    DDayJ

    Doug, good article; had me laughing as I read it. As an owner of a 1999 WJ Grand Cherokee Limited, I can’t help but think of them as a poor man’s Range Rover. Similar off road heritage and idea of luxury, not quite as terrible but still bad reliability, but better part prices. Then again, in addition to the GC, I own a Saab, and once owned a 3.4 DOHC equipped W body, so I must be an automotive masochist.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    There is at least one good one…Clarkson drove that clapped out one across South America in the Top Gear special a few years ago with no issues. No, nothing worked in it and if I remember he had to cut holes in the hood to keep it from overheating but mechanically it got him there.

  • avatar
    nikita

    I lusted after an original aluminum bodied Land Rover long ago, due to the safari-proven off road cred. In Central America, a few still survive, with Chevy powertrain transplants. Many Toyota Land Cruisers here in California also have Chevy engine transplants.

    I have no use for a Luxury off-roader. The Range Rover always belonged in a Beverly Hills garage next to an identical color Rolls or Bentley.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    I have come to the opinion that there is nothing wrong with this that gutting all the silly electrics, rhinolining the interior, and a crate LS1 won’t fix.

  • avatar

    Great writing as usual. But really? You got scared off by a couple of niggling faults you could have fixed with even the simplest mechanical knowledge and can-do DIY attitude. Don’t come crying to me about how unreliable your XYZ is until you witness a full electrical meltdown, or see your ride attempt to spontaneously combust (multiple times), or find your oil full of enough metal shavings to out-glitter Tobias Fünke.

  • avatar
    JMA

    Subjective! There are two sides to the coin, especially with any old vehicle.

  • avatar
    ChrisR

    So, Doug bases his “Truth about Cars” article on one brief experience of a 18 year old car that he obviously bought sight unseen and has no knowledge of its history and then proceeds to tar all Range Rovers with the same brush.
    How about the real truth about Classic Range Rovers?
    I have had 3 of these in the last 20 years. Why only 3? Because they have been so utterly reliable and dependable in all weathers and all conditions. After the first which was an ’84, I bought a ’91 I bought used with about 80,000 miles. I did a further 100,000 miles in that and the only breakdown was when the top radiator hose burst.
    The one I have now is a ’95 Classic. The same model that Doug writes about. I don’t do so many miles now, I bought this a few years ago with 145,000 miles on the clock, it now has 178,000 miles.
    The breakdowns in this? The heater host split, I had a flat tire and didn’t have the wrench in the car to undo the wheel nuts and the original radiator stopped cooling enough so it overheated in London traffic.
    Otherwise I use the car almost every day without fail. It is in fact my daily driver car.
    In the last year I have finally had to replace the ORIGINAL air suspension bags and rebuild the ORIGINAL air suspension pump. After 18 years and about 170,000 miles that ain’t bad going for so called “unreliable air suspension”. It was the ORIGINAL radiator that was replaced. It’s still running on the original engine, original transmission, original axles. The original “always rusts” tailgate is still on the car, not rusted. I’ve just had to rebuild the ORIGINAL starter motor which is now back on the car. How do I know all this about the car? Because I got the service history with the car so I know what was replaced and what was not replaced.
    This is not a cosseted vehicle, it is never garaged and I use it as designed, recently I was towing a trailer weighing in at almost 6,000lbs. No difficulties or problems at all.
    The heated front and rear screens work, the central locking works on all doors, the air suspension works in all 5 modes, it can sit in London traffic without overheating or go on the highway at up to 110mph. The memory positioning on the seats and mirrors works just fine. The only things that don’t work are the seat heater in the drivers seat, the cruise control and the headlamp washers. The cruise control doesn’t work because I haven’t been bothered to replace a split vacuum pipe. The headlamp washer don’t work because I disconnected the pipe as they use too much water and it runs out too quickly and I can’t be bothered to refill it that often.
    Oh, the 6 speaker sound system and aircon is all in full working order too.
    Any rust? Yes, a little. I need to replace the rear cross member behind the hinge down tailgate and there is some on the rear wheel arch near the body mount that needs to be fixed.

    A friend of mine had an ’86 Land Rover Defender, that only let him down once when the clutch broke. Even then he drove it through London traffic for almost 18 miles with no clutch by matching engine and gearbox speeds and changing gear without the clutch so technically even then he was not stranded. He eventually sold it in 2001 with 186,000 miles recorded, still on original engine and transmission to another friend. 12 Years on it is still on its original engine and drive train and now is up to about 260,000 miles and still going strong in regular use. To replace the Defender he bought a new 2001 Discovery. That’s now up to 100,000 miles and has NEVER, yes, NEVER broken down.

    So instead of a biased journalist with an ax to grind spouting myths and half truths, this is the TRUTH about Land Rovers.
    The only thing that Doug demonstrates is how NOT to buy an 18 year old car. No one in their right mind buys an 18 year old car without an inspection or test and cannot expect to be surprised. I bet the seller was laughing all the way to the bank. Any credibility Doug might have for the article is completely negated by his naivity.

    I looked through this blog and see no responses from the originator which annoys me that biased and unjustified comments then gain ground as the truth when in fact they are far from the truth.

    • 0 avatar

      Haha. Whoa.

      Your response is so angry it comes off like the article is about your daughter.

      Although this is weeks later and no one will see it, I should note: my “ax to grind” is so sharp that I replaced this Range Rover with … another Range Rover.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Land Rovers must be designed specifically for London weather.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    In the end , if you like a particular vehicle , it’ll be fine for you no matter what anyone else thinks ~ I drove old VW’s back when new Air Cooled Beetles were still being sold and I got grief from everyone , even the VW lovers for driving that old 36 HP engine flat out all the time everywhere across America in comfort & style and enjoyed the 35 MPG’s even though gas was only .32 CENTS the gallon .

    I think Range Rovers look nice but , being a British Car owner and Mechanic I have no illusions about the build quality .

    The design of British vehicles , IMO, is fine .

    If you like it , screw what others think or say ~ I know people who like _VEGAS_ even .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Mr. Nordberg

    Entertaining read, but these cars have qualities that are unbeatable.
    There is something scary with things that never goes wrong, the Classics faults are for the most part easy to forgive.
    Like a good wife that needs TLC ever so often.


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