John Leslie-Miller, Owning and running a 1983 4-door Range
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
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
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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of vehicles you have driven, looked at or chosen.