Category: Range Rover

C.S.K. R.I.P.

Some people get upset when royalty die.  Some people get upset when soap stars die.  But when I think it’s sad when someone I’ve never met dies, it’s often someone who has changed the world in ways most people don’t notice.

And the latest person in that category is Charles Spencer (“Spen”) King.

Who?  I hear you ask.

Spen King lead the design teams for the Rover 2000 and SD1, Triumph Stag, TR6 and TR7, and most notably the original Range Rover.  Arguably the TD7 wasn’t his best work, but it’s still an fantastic CV.

The world has lost one of the finest car designers ever.  The man who arguably created an entire new segment of the car market – the luxury SUV – is no longer with us.

That’s worth raising a glass in his memory.

Learning car maintenance

Davidss commented on my post on the Diesel pipe shenanigans last Saturday on the uk-lro mailing list – pointing out he could remember when I couldn’t figure out how to change the rear wiper blade on the P38A (set it moving and pop the tailgate when it reaches the centre!)

I’m actually quite proud of where I’ve got to since then: last night I stripped one of the hubs on the Dakar and replaced the oil seal and bearings. I’ll hopefully get to the other side before the weekend is out. It all got a bit hairy on reassembly when the brakes wouldn’t fit. That one definitely came under the heading of “I’d have had no idea where to start a few years ago”.

The Haynes Bumper Book of Jokes is a bit vague. It says – in the absence of a dial gauge to measure end-float – to tighten the first hub nut until there’s no detectable end-float, and back it off until you can just barely detect movement.

On the third refit of the calliper, I discovered that “whack the first nut on with an air gun, and back it off until the wheel turns freely” is a more accurate description of to get everything in the right place. Anything less and the New! Shiny! disk fouls on the calliper.

I’m still debating doing the front one, or leaving that for the garage. The front one seems rather more complex.

Yes, I’ve learned an awful lot since that fateful day in September 2000 when the addiction started. Thanks to everyone who helped!

There’s a HUGE element of confidence in much of this stuff. Having the second vehicle is a huge bonus: I can play with one to my heart’s content, knowing the other one will get me to work in the morning if necessary. It’s very easy to read the stories of stripped threads, heating siezed nuts to red hot to free them, and take the shiny new socket set back to Halfords and never attempt it.

I have to confess I don’t particularly enjoy being sat on the ground up to my wrists in EP90 doing this stuff. I enjoy being able to do it. I enjoy being able to fix things in an emergency. But most of the maintenance work is just that – work! I do it to learn, and to save on garage bills.

But there is only one way to do this stuff, and that involves a socket set, a trolley jack, and, oh, probably about another £1,000 I’ve spent on tools since I first got the Range Rover. I’ve saved that several times over in garage bills, though, so I’m a happy man!

A month of Discovery ownership

OK, not quite: almost a month, and over 1,000 miles later, including a 800 mile weekend in Wales, I’ve formed a more detailed opinion of the differentces between driving a Discovery and a Range Rover.

Bear in mind I’m comparing a 10 year old, 125,000 mile vehicle, with a 3 year old, 55,000 mile one.

The Range Rover handling, even with the Koni shocks, is barge-like compared to the Disco with ACE. I’d had some of the bushes replaced on the rangie, but I it wasn’t this tight even when new-to-me. At the other end of the scale, some local speed bumps that were smooth at 25-30mph in the Rangie feel like a real crash-bang-up-and-over in the Disco.

The other big thing is that the V8 in the Rangie was obviously very, very tired. The Td5 is tardy until the turbo comes on line at about 1,800 rpm, but is actually pretty snappy if you can keep it up there – actual driving response seems as good as the V8 unless you really were pushing along.  Another difference is that the Rangie, if you were pushing along, needed hard braking into the corner and foot to the floor once you got there to level it through the corner and beyond. The lower power, turbo, and better handling of the Disco leads to more of “keep it going, don’t brake more than you absolutely have to” style of driving – cornering faster but more smoothly.

In terms of comfort, they’re very comparable. The Disco has all the creature comforts, though I notice the B post is much closer to my right shoulder than I’m used to.

I think the way to characterise the difference is that the Discovery II is a nice, comfortable car. The Rangie is a luxury car.

Having said all of that, I had three choices open to me (assuming I still wanted a LandRover!):

1) Throw £5,000 and at least a week, full time, at doing everything I really wanted to do the the Range Rover: engine rebuild, new bushes all round, detail clean the interior, update the LPG to sequential injection, blend motors, trace the noise from the AC condensor, ….. the list goes on. And then persuade the company that the work I’d done basically made it a new car. And still be concerned about what I’d missed.

2) Spend upwards of £22,000 + trade in on an L322, Disco III, or Freelander. I could have done that, but it would have cleaned out thefinancial reserves.

3) Spend £12k + trade in on a Disco II Td5.

With those choices, I’m happy that I made the right decision. I like my Discovery, though I don’t quite have the big grin that I got when I first owned the Range Rover.

Cylinder Index about to be reduced

Having written about the concept of a cylinder index, mine is about to be reduced by three: I’m replacing the Range Rover.

The Range Rover is fast approaching 10 years old – it was registered on 1st August 1997 – and has 125,000 miles or so on the clock. That’s approaching the point where spending some serious time on the engine is called for, and for work reasons I need something newer.

So, there’s at least two good reasons (age and car allowance) for something new. And another Range Rover is, at the moment, out of the question. The replacement is another Land Rover, but a Discovery this time. Registered between March and September 2004, so barely three years old, black with black leather interior and chrome side steps. Yes, it’s a bit “blingy”, but it does look good.

I’ve been researching for a while, saw two yesterday, and had a long think overnight. I came to the conclusion that I’d have to put in a lot of time to find a noticeably better deal than either of them, so I went back this morning and agreed a deal to trade in the rangie. I’d have liked to get another £500 off, but I’m happy with the deal we agreed.

Its got pretty much every single gadget that LR offered as part of the vehicle, both in terms of creature comfort and technical ability on and off road. I’d need to pay twice as much for a decent, newer, Rangie, and it would still be older and higher mileage than the Disco. And cost more to run and maintain. So, no more “status symbol” for me, but still
a very nice car.

But … the rangie has been a hobby for the last 6 1/2 years and the gateway to some fun experiences and a bunch of new friends, so I’m going to be very sad to see it go. I’ve never had a car that long, and certainly not one that’s been anything other than just “transport”.

I know they’re only lumps of metal that move you around, but there have been so many friends and experiences around it…. If I get half the pleasure and fun from the new one (and I hope I will), I’ll be very happy. I hope to be collecting it in a few days time.

I’ve said for a while I’ll replace the Rangie with a Disco II, and that I want another V8. Well…. while coming to a decision, I drove both a V8 and a Td5 — almost within minutes of each other. Neither feels markedly different from the P38A, other than the obvious differences in power and sound.. The driving position is very similar – unlike the older Discos which seemed more “legs straight out” when you were driving. There’s a little less shoulder room around the door pillars (most noticeable if, like me, you have the seat right the way back), but more headroom. The newer Bosch V8 is more refined and definitely has more poke in the Disco application. It’s not quite as refined a ride only having air suspension in the rear, but it’s still pretty smooth. ACE (Active Cornering Enhancement) makes a HUGE difference to the cornering, that’s a big plus in terms of the handling.

The car I’m getting is an ES Premium spec from the very end of the production run (04 plate) so it has even more creature-comfort gadgets than a HSE P38A. Fold-in wing mirrors and reversing distance sensors are two of the most noticeable. Underneath it’s got traction control, hill descent control, and center diff lock. But it does lose a little in
terms of luxury car feel in some respects; for example the central locking has much more of a “clunk” on the disco, and the sunroof action isn’t as smooth. The instrument console is more “chunky SUV” than “luxury car” as well: the row of switches down either side of the binnacle that were a feature of the original Disco I.

It’s also got the fold-out “occasional” seats for a total of 7 passengers on occasions, which seem to be more common than not throughout the range. I can get into and out of them, but I wouldn’t want to be there for much more than 15 minutes. The normal back seats have a little less legroom but more headroom thanks to the “stadium seating” and the stepped roofline.

The only downside is that it’s just over 6′ tall; enough that I’ll have to be “let in” to the local tip which has a 6′ height restriction on the entrance. Most garages are 6′ 6″, so that’s fine. I think it comes up to 6′ 5″ if you have the sunroof open (it’s a lift then open design rather than disappearing into the roof as on the Rangie.

A friend who lives near me had a P38A for a while and he commented that the Disco doesn’t have quite the same “road presence” as the P38A. In particular, he found that driving in London people would pull out in front of the Disco more than the Rangie. I find a lot of that is downto how you drive: I don’t get cut up when I’m driving Yvonne’s Focus!

The Td5 is a background rumble when cruising and quite intrusive when being worked hard. I’m researching power options at the moment: I don’t want to take it too far because it will just get noisier, but I might try remapping the ECU.  I’m also intrigued to try some of the different maps that come with the Rovacom: if nothing else because people report widely different MPG figures for the Td5 and I’m wondering if the fuel map is part of that. Some are getting as low as 21mpg, others are getting more like 29. Some of that’s driving style, some of it doesn’t seem to be.

If you’re wondering about the future of my P38A website, it will continue to exist. I’m not throwing that amount of work away, even though I think I’ve largely reached the point where I’ve collected most of the pertinent information on the P38. I do have some plans up my sleeve to expand the scope to a wider audience and I will certainly be adding Disco and Td5 information as it grows.

The first major outing for the new Disco is a planned trip to North Wales in a few weeks time. Before that trip I want to get a decent car kit fitted and also the invertor I got recently. I’m also wondering if this is the right time to get a decent camping fridge for the planned summer trips. That’s all to be decided right now… let’s get the new beastie in and get used to it before I start messing with it.

How many MPG?

It’s a genuine picture, honest guv.


It’s a 4.0 litre V8.

It’s running on Petrol.

It’s doing 50MPH on the motorway at about 2000 revs and has been for the last mile.

Doing 80 (sorry, officer, 70) is still more fun, though.