Mods & Consequences: How to improve the best 4x4xfar
Few classics are as cool as a Rangie, but it’s also quite dated. Here’s how to smarten yours up
It’s almost 50 years since the Range Rover first appeared and in that time it’s become massively collectable. Despite this, many owners accept that it can benefit from a raft of sympathetic upgrades – many RRs are owned by people who want to use, rather than show them.
The sky was the limit during the 1980s – some were stretched, others decapitated and many stuffed with media systems and retrimmed with garish materials. Such cars make fascinating period pieces, but changes today tend to be more subtle, with the focus being on making the car more usable, reliable, frugal, comfortable and generally better to drive.
Launched in 1970, Land Rover didn’t develop the Range Rover much during that first decade. Those first cars were two-doors with a 3.5-litre V8 and a four-speed manual gearbox. A four-door car was offered from July 1981, a three-speed auto from July 1982 and in July 1983 the fourspeed manual gave way to a fivespeeder. The V8 was fuel-injected on Vogue models from October 1985, which is also when the auto got four speeds. A diesel was offered from April 1986, using a 2.4-litre VM-sourced unit (superseded by a 2.5-litre unit in October 1989). In November of the same year carburettors were ditched altogether and so was the two-door bodyshell – except for exports and special orders.
The 3.5-litre engine gave way to a 3.9 in October 1989 and three years later the long wheelbase (108in) Vogue SE arrived with a 4278cc powerplant. The unrefined VM diesels also gave way to the Land Rover 200 TDi unit in 1992. The classic Range Rover stayed in showrooms until 1996, when it was finally superseded by the new P38 version.