The older Land Rovers (leading up to the Defenders) are pretty much covered tractors with extra seating.
They were never intended as motorway cruising town cars. They were meant as work horses – and they do that well.
This leads to a few eye openers for those who do not know what to expect when they first get in an old Landy.
Take ours for example – a short wheel base (88″) Series III 2.25l petrol engined tank from 1977 – or ‘Frank‘ as Chris calls ‘him’….. or ‘The 88‘ as Alex calls ‘him’. (I use either…..). MEET FRANK
Some FRANK stats……
Square of foam for a cushion, with another one for a back rest…. some ‘posher’ models have the block of foam shaped slightly.
Air filled tyres.
Big letter box sized holes under the windscreen for cold air (and anything else that goes in them).
Engine for hot air (constant).
Same as the driver – less a steering wheel to hold onto for reassurance.
Steering wheel (big, as there is no power steering). Clutch, a brake and a throttle.
There are indicators, but no hazard lights or reverse lights.
Mirrors. These give an idea of things around you… The vibration doesn’t really help with identifying what the things are though.
Gear stick. Ah, yes…. there are several of these. Where it lacks in other areas, it makes up for in the number of selector levers.
Stereo…. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! Sure! Fit one, but you’re not going to hear the damned thing over the road noise and the engine and transmission howl!!!
Frank has two normal (modern) belts for the driver and left hand passenger. The middle passenger gets a lap belt.
Rear passengers (4 people) get two shiny bench seats – No belts. Plenty of room to tuck and roll though…
That being said, the Landy is built on a massive girder chassis. If you do crash into someone, you probably won’t know it until you get home and spot their poxy Saxo boy racer embedded on the bumper…
I had a very early Range Rover that had the same type of chassis. A Ford Ka managed to write itself off on my Range Rover… whilst the Range Rover was parked and stationary…. The Ka hit my front bumper whilst reversing far too quickly out of a parking space. My Rangey didn’t suffer a scratch.
0-60mph: Ha ha ha…. really? 60mph? What’s a 60mph?
Braking: Eventual. Plan ahead.
Fuel Economy: 20mpg is possible….
From the Highway Code:
(Obviously not intended for drivers of old Land Rovers…)
1st gear – for speeds between 0 and 10mph
2nd gear – for speeds between 10 and 20mph
3rd gear – for speeds between 20 and 30mph
4th gear – for speeds between 30 and 40mph
5th gear – for speeds over 40mphReality:
1st gear – for speeds between 0 and 5mph
2nd gear – for speeds between 2 and 10mph
3rd gear – for speeds between 10 and 20mph
4th gear – for speeds between 20 and 45mph
Ear defenders & brave pills – for speeds over 45mph
Cost of running:
Spares are dirt cheap. I mean pocket money cheap for most of the stuff you require. It’s a giant Meccano kit and dead simple to work with (mostly).
Ignore the miles per gallon, as the smiles per gallon make up for it.
To improve of speed (and a little economy) there are various options you can go for, such as overdrives, bigger tyres, better engine, gearbox modifications – but it’s an old Land Rover, so I never expected 60mpg and precision handling! The overdrive or gearbox modifications can help with cruising speed though as you can safely sit at 60mph without over-stressing a good engine.
It doesn’t have whistles and bells (it does have a proper loud honking horn). Its all terrain capability comes from the driver knowing how to use the tools provided. It is geared for two wheel drive in high ratio (road use) and has a high and low ratio four wheel drive – and if used correctly it’ll get you out of anything.
More modern 4×4’s (like the ones you see on school runs) rely more on computers than driving skills, which explains why you see more and more 4×4’s NOT GOING ANYWHERE in the snow, because people THINK the car can do it all itself. It can’t! You have to know what you are doing and how to use it! Most modern 4×4’s are just wasted on clueless numpty posers who think the car can go anywhere…. and up up getting stuck when their skill runs out.
The main question with any car is; “What do you need?” - A Land Rover makes a useless boy racer car, a Ferrari makes a useless family car, a Clio makes a useless utility car, and a Nissan LEAF makes a useless long range sports car…. You have to buy for what your needs are – and you have to weigh up what your needs are before you start to criticize what any particular vehicle can do…
The old Land Rovers were built to cross huge distances with really simple maintenance… If anything went wrong, the damned things could still limp home with engines rattling and gear boxes hanging off…..
For us though, Frank leaves a huge grin on our faces. It’s a simple, rugged vehicle that came up at a good price at the right time. Frank is perfect for Chris and her work with horses, where she needs a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, rain, sun, snow and ice capable vehicle that can take the knocks without any concerns about getting stuck somewhere, and that the dent you just put in the wing won’t write the car off due to the insurance expense of fixing it… (you can fit a new front wing to Frank for under £30…..).