Capsule Review - 1999 Land Rover Discovery Series II, AKA – The Great Southwest Escape. Take One

W Christian Mental Ward
by W Christian Mental Ward
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It’s Sandy Murilee Martin and his merry band of adventurers have already weaved a fascinating tale of a harrowing escape from the vile Super storm Sandy after the Lemons Halloween Hooptiefest in New Hampshire. I have a much less exciting tale, but along the same ilk.
I’m on a boat!Between deployments, I jumped at the chance to take the helm of the Three Pedal Mafia’s infamous 72 Sea Sprite. After an exceptional weekend, we had the trailer pointed south to Philadelphia. Halfway back, Southwest Air (the one with the on-board comedians) lets me know my flight to OKC has been cancelled. No problem, I was staying the night with team hotshoe Chris and gorgeous girlfriend/team/mate Chrissy. My hosts agreed to put me up an additional night. Monday was lackadaisical and included a trip to the Liberty Taproom for dinner.
Obligatory Facebook photo, taken blurry by the bartenderOver a few beers, Chris casually mentioned he was selling his 1999 Land Rover Discovery. This was his race support/tow pig since his team invited me to co-drive the mighty Wartburg in 2009.
Mad scientists all of themHe had owned the Disco(very) for years, after a long search for exactly the right Disco. Loved and meticulously maintained by the original owner, all the most common problems of these vehicles, including the nasty head gasket and front axle, had already been addressed. He was letting it go to make room for the upgraded tow pig, a Yukon 3500 Denali.With no other words from SW, I presumed my flight was as scheduled. After a proper Philly cheesesteak lunch I was deposited 2 hours early at Philadelphia International. The Southwest counter was unlit and unoccupied. I called and was told all flights from that airport were cancelled. I was offered another delayed flight home late on Halloween the next day. No thank you, I can rent a car and be home 2 hours before that one would land.I called every freaking rental agency that had a kiosk. All of them silently praised the clowns at Southwest, and openly wanted in excess of $600 for a tiny wheezing crapcan one way to Oklahoma. I then made what should have been my dumbest decision since refusing to go to the ER when a pneumatic cutoff wheel launched a chunk into my neck.
Plan B“Hello? Chris? Yeah, you just sold a Land Rover.”I sincerely figured at the price I was offered, I could drive the truck home, sell it and maybe makeup the gas money. My wife was less than confident;“Just take the flight tomorrow.”“What?!? Dangit Woman! I know how to get home. It’s a 13 year old British SUV with slightly less than 200,000 miles. What could possibly go wrong? “By 6 PM EST I was rolling east in my new (to me) Land Rover, signed title and a freshly printed insurance card in the glove box.I have to confess I knew almost nothing about Land Rovers , but having raced with Chris, I knew he was a stickler for maintenance and always very researched in his purchases. I have experience with British cars, so 187,000 miles scared me a bit. My teammate assured me he would never send me off across this great land of ours in a vehicle he didn’t trust.
The way homeIn addition to being strict with maintenance, Chris also is particular about his modifications. My little Birmingham hottie was equipped with a 110 power inverter under the passenger seat which allowed me to keep my iPhone charged. The iPhone (the map was still by Google) informed me I had slightly less than 1,400 miles spread over 7 states to cover.My parents had a vague inkling of where I was, so they were a tad worried. They called to check up on me. My plan induced laughter.“You bought a car to drive home?”“Um, no Dad, I bought a Land Rover. Cars are for peasants; this is quite simply the finest off road vehicle ever made.”More laughter. Apparently the over under from my family after the first flight cancellation was on me trying something like this. My Dad knew better.Yeah, I was quickly smitten with my new purchase. I texted Chris; not only would I not be selling her, but she now had a name. In a nod to her golden color and the circumstances, she was now “Sandy.”Sweeter than Pedro’s bike were Sandy’s official Land Rover bush grill guard and safari rack. Attached to both was a pair of Hella 700FF aux lights along with a pair of 550s mounted in the place of the original fogs. I could actually illuminate my home in Oklahoma from PA with all of these powered up.Will Sandy destroy Mental’s marriage? Will it make good on a Land Rover’s reputation and die at the most inopportune moment? Will it duly serve Mental, even in the boring stretches between Columbus and Indianoplace? Tune in tomorrow for part two of the great Southwest Escape.
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  • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Jan 20, 2013

    Ah Discos - strongly considered buying one last year when I decided my next 2nd car/winter beater would be a proper 4x4 that could tow. I've owned a British car for 18 years, have a garage full of tools and a lift, and I am a pretty good wrench with excellent luck with European cars of all types. So I bought an '02 Jeep Grand Cherokee... But maybe someday. :-)

  • FJ60LandCruiser FJ60LandCruiser on Jan 20, 2013

    My mom had one of these back in the late 90s when all rich white chicks needed some ridiculously large SUV and the H2 was considered crass. She wanted something more fancy then the 50k 4runner Limiteds running around (anyone stupid enough to put down 50k for what was a cramped truck with an 183 hp engine needs their head examined). Thus came the White Gold Disco with 2 tone interior. Looked like a BMW inside, looked like an SUV outside. LR dealers back then were exclusive dens of Camel Trophy winning trucks, fancy brochures printed for what seemed 10 bucks a piece, LR Experience t-shirts and other garbage that was overpriced for anything but a dollar store, and dealers who would take you and the truck on a plastic fake rock wall to show off you the off-road prowess of a vehicle you wouldn't even drive on grass. Mom had the LR fever twice. The 2000 Disco she bought was one of the most dreadful vehicles I've ever seen in the West Bloc. Everything broke. Electrics, forget it. I figured Lucas set up some kind of force field that LR electronics somehow managed to work within a quarter mile of the dealership, then quickly stopped once you drove any further. Window switches, seat switches, dash switches, 4wd selectors worked once to indicate their function, then failed. Some just fell off. The engine started some times, others it just decided to take a union sanctioned holiday. None of the lights and signals ever worked in pairs, fog, turn, brake, etc. Usually one of each decided to go out for no good reason, replacing the bulb made the other light fail. These shambling failures started at about 6 months, then went on to the 2 year mark when she disposed of the wretched thing... Mom never learned her lesson. In 2010, she bought a supercharged Sport. The sleek spaceship lowered itself to ground level on its fancy suspension after a long highway trip, at a gas station not too far from home, folded up its mirrors and just died. Complete brick. Like it was hit with an EMP. LR's miracle workers couldn't bring it back to life, effectively lemoning the car.

    • See 1 previous
    • Corntrollio Corntrollio on Jan 31, 2013

      Also, I'm pretty sure you couldn't option a 90s 4Runner up to $50K unless you got the dealer-ripoff rust-proofing, VIN-etching, platinum extended warranty, plus rolled your underwater loan from your previous car into it. I believe the V8-powered 4Runner that debuted in MY 2003 could be optioned closer to $50K in more recent years, but that had a 245 hp V6 or a 235 hp V8, not the 183 hp V6 of 2002 and earlier which topped out around $40K. Similarly, the H2 didn't show up until MY 2003 either. It sounds like either you got the year horrendously wrong, or you were trying to sound older than you actually are.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂