Rotten Rangies and fully loaded Leylands
Regarding your recent column where you mention the Range Rover: My father bought the second-last one from t he f irst shipment to Austra lia in t he early 70s and it was great; reliable and not wobbly like his second one from 1980 which played up a lot. Range Rover softened the suspension too much and the side to side sway would make some people car-sick.
The f irst Rangie was ver y reliable but didn’t like dirt y f uel and would block t he carby, but t hat was prett y much the only thing that ever went wrong in the f ive years he owned it. The second one seemed possessed, with something new play ing up week ly and he only kept it 18 months (warranties back then were only one year).
Money problems meant we had a P76 si x-cylinder, four-speed manual in between which was surprisingly good considering it was used as Dad’s work car. And, being a builder, he a lways had about half a tonne in t he boot, on t he roof, and a box tra iler hitched up. The Leyland went through a few clutches but t hat was it. Eventually we cracked the block on a trip to t he Snow ys so it’s probably at the Cooma wreckers if t here’s any t hing lef t. Any way, love your column. Keep it up,
Andrew Willis, Email.
I ONCE owned a Range Rover, Andrew, so I can absolutely sympathise with your poor old dad’s tales of woe. In the case of most makes and models, they usually improve over time as the manufacturer irons out the bugs and learns how to put them together. Not the weirdos at Range Rover back in the day. The early Rangies were certainly flawed, but as they got more complicated, they seemed to become even less reliable.
Finally, Range Rover arrived at the P38 model in the 90s and, from the perspective of many onlookers and those unfortunate enough to have actually bought one, also arrived at the absolute nadir of poor build quality and zero reliability. As in, this car stands as a monument to stink-lines and a steaming lesson to all other car-makers on how to get it wrong. And, no, I didn’t own a P38.
Mine was an early four-door that I acquired
from a mate after swapping him a dozen bottles of plonk for the keys to the Rangie. He didn’t see me coming, he sent for me. The RR soon developed all sorts of excuses for not running properly, or at all, and that bloody Pommy shitheap is the only car I’ve owned in the last 40 years that has failed to make it home under its own steam. And that’s a deal breaker for me: Once I’ve had to call a towie, the relationship is as good as over.
Good to know that the P76 was a bit better, though. Most people only really think of the P76 in its alloy V8 form, but the six-cylinder unit was certainly a player at the time. These days, of course, a V8 Targa Florio is actually starting to be worth real money, but a six-pot P76 would probably still cost more to restore than it would ever be worth.
So, yeah, maybe your old car is still at the big wrecking yard at Cooma. Flynns, the yard is called, and I used to drive past it on the school bus into Cooma every day. Apparently, you can have a hunt around in there for a $10 donation at the gate, but you know what? I’ve never set foot in the place. I nearly got there a few weeks ago when I drove from Newcastle to Melbourne via the Snowys in Torren’s Volvo 242GT (long story) but Flynns was closed that day. Next time…