GRR

First Drive: Range Rover Reborn

14th October 2018
erin_baker_headshot.jpg Erin Baker

Many great things happened in 1978. I was born, which gave the world another Austin Metro fan, and a mustard-yellow (or Bahama Gold, to be exact) two-door Range Rover rolled off the production line. At the Revival this year, we met. The Range Rover has faired slightly better than me aesthetically, but it has cheated. For this particular example is one of the first Range Rover Reborn vehicles to come out of Jaguar Land Rover’s Classics division, which is intent on nurturing the glorious heritage of Land Rover and Jaguar by rebuilding, from donor cars, the originals to their exact specification, using JLR parts, and retooling them where necessary, and JLR engineers, many of whom are the second and third generations of their families to work on these cars.

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The Classics department initially announced a run of ten examples, which grew to 15 this year and another 15 are scheduled for next year. The plan is to keep building them as long as demand is there, but the pace is dependant on sourcing suitable donor cars and the time taken for the work – every component is separately inspected, new parts machined with original tooling where necessary, and the interior faithfully replicated. 

That means you can choose between the original hose-out vinyl of the first cars (suffix A and B) and the brushed beige nylon with its herringbone pattern of the later models. You can choose between wing mirrors on doors or bonnet, head rests or none, rear seat belts for the bench seat or not, and you can specify a JLR Classics modern radio if you like, which gives you DAB and a little screen within a classic design that suits the period.

Every inch of the car is entirely faithful: JLR’s Reborn Series aims to keep a minimum 80-85 per cent of the original car during restoration. Delightful forgotten touches include the flip down numberplate which meant that when you had the split tailgate down to fit the hay bales in the back, the numberplate could still be seen on the move.

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It’s still an easy drive on the move, although that view might be slightly tempered by having just got out of a Series I, with its lack of power steering or synchromesh and stiff gearbox.

First gear is elusive, mainly due to so few miles on the clock, but the engine pulls away in second gear smoothly. You have to really spin the huge plastic steering wheel in your hands, but the relative lack of body work and huge windows mean you can place this large car on the road easily. But the joy of this car is not in how it drives, either by today’s standards or when it was made; it’s in owning the past in the present, which is a very weird feeling. Sitting in the beige interior, you are in a time warp of industrial design so seminal that the Louvre put this car on display in the Seventies. And what you buy is the joy of nostalgia without its time-provoked caveats: the engineering is fresh, the parts essentially new, the worry of ownership mitigated. And that’s a good deal, really: money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a lovely yellow Range Rover, which is as close as it gets.

Stat Attack

Engine: 3,528cc petrol V8

Transmission: four-speed manual, four-wheel-drive

PS/Nm: 134/251

0-62mph: 14.2sec

Top speed: 99mph

Price from: £140,000

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