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Range Rover Review

John Leslie-Miller,  Owning and running a 1983 4-door Range Rover.
 
I've been running the Range Rover for 6 years now and know the vehicle pretty well. My RR was bought as a plaything for occasional use, but having had two cars stolen, decided to run the RR as my everyday transport figuring that (touch wood) it's not high on the car burglar's shopping list.
 
The engine was overhauled at 300,000 kms, though if it wasn't for a weird and rare snag, it would have gone on a lot longer. At 17 years old my RR still provides reasonably reliable transport and problems usually manifest themselves in good time to have them fixed. I have found the car runs a lot more reliably when used every day. Around Johannesburg, it is a ponderous vehicle, not so much for its size, but the time taken to change gears. Provided there's momentum it will mix it in traffic quite well. The driving position is commanding and the vehicle's size discourages other drivers from cutting you up, although taxi's intimidated.
 
Off road, the RR is stunning and whilst I've yet to pluck up the courage to do a Namibia or Kalahari trip, the car has taken the Qua Qua 4x4 routes, One Land Rover club trial and a couple of Hennop's day's out very well indeed. I'm usually voted into first convoy position when accompanied by friends driving Japanese 4x4 bakkies and if I can't traverse an obstacle, the others stay well clear.
 
At 17 years old, most trips result in some mechanical problem. So far I've had to replace the diff lock vacuum bowl as the diaphragm had worn through. This meant driving back to Johannesburg from Hennops very carefully and then removing the front prop shaft as I could not disengage the lock. A replacement was fitted within three days. One of the rear axle locating arms broke on leaving Johannesburg for Qua Qua. This was replaced very efficiently at the roadside within an hour by Solihull 4WD - I was very thankful it did not happen during the trip. The fuel pump started to play up on the way back from the LROC Range Rover 30th birthday bash at Rust de Winter, causing a stoppage every 5 kms. I managed to partially fix this on the roadside. The clutch slave cylinder said howzit after another Hennops visit, but I was able to return to Johannesburg (just before the clutch gave out completely).
 
On long journey's the Range Rover is a wonderful albeit slowish cruising car. It is happiest at between 100 and 120 kms/hour. Although it will go beyond, above these speeds the V8 sounds overworked. The car will go for about 350 kms on a tank of petrol. Oil leaks seem to have been built in at the factory and I have two right now, one of which drips onto the exhaust, causing a nasty smell when hot. The other seems to be the main seal between engine and clutch housing as the clutch begins to judder when hot, which is a pain when driving around town.
 
I have learnt that running a vehicle like this requires the help of a good Land Rover specialist like Solihull 4WD in Randburg. Land Rover SA are not in the least interested, nor knowledgeable about earlier vehicles despite their greater simplicity. Parts costs are very reasonable from Dover parts.
 
With the mileage, the interior has stood up well, although the drivers seat upholstery has worn in places now. The headlining has sagged which is a typical problem and I've replaced the carpet. The 4-door rattles a lot more than the two-door version, this is because of the extra windows which can be fixed by putting in new surrounds.
 
My feeling is that my Range Rover will last a lifetime - or as long as there's petrol available, provided it's serviced regularly and preventative maintenance in carried out. It's a very interesting vehicle to own and extremely versatile.

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