We enjoy the Land Rover Discovery 1 and put it fully to the test
1 DAILY DRIVING
A Discovery is very easy to live with. There are plenty of storage areas to squirrel away the detritus of daily life, including map pockets in the roof for both front and rear passengers, and a handy cubby box between the two front seats. Plusher models offer luxuries such as twin sunroofs (which always leak, so you’ll need to consider sealing them up), front – and sometimes rear – air conditioning and leather seating for up seven, though the sidewaysfacing rear seats are best-suited to children. Running costs are reasonable for a large 4x4, and it should be perfectly capable of cruising at 70mph for long periods. Just don’t expect it to be particularly restful by modern standards.
2 IN THE SERVICE BAY
Breakdowns aren’t common, and every fault you’re likely to encounter will be well documented on online forums. Electrical problems sometimes crop up (especially with the immobiliser), usually the result of moisture coming through the sunroof and getting where it shouldn’t. Locating the problems can be a pain, but it’s usually an easy and relatively lowcost fix. The running gear is all traditional coilsprung Land Rover stuff that’s easily accessible and built to last. New and used replacement parts are widely available, and if you’re interested in modifying you’ll find countless aftermarket options available. To prevent rust taking a hold, it’s vital to get underneath every few months, scrub away the mud and get busy with some quality underseal.
3 OFF-ROAD ADVENTURE
Interest in Discos at shows is growing. The spotlight is focused most on the earliest G-WAC models (referring to the prefix and suffix of their registration numbers, which denote the cars used on the original dealer and press launch). Three-door versions still turn heads, and Camel Trophy editions have always enjoyed a strong following. Modified vehicles are commonplace, so only truly exceptional examples stand out. Club events, off-road playdays and greenlane tours mean you’ll never be short of things to do. Land Rover shows are big too, not least the LRO Peterborough Show, hosted by CCW’s sister title, Land Rover
Owner, every September.
4 THE LONG WEEKEND
There can be few other classics better suited to a long weekend away than an early Discovery. There’s ample room inside for five adults – and their luggage – and if your accommodation is down a rutted, muddy country lane, the Disco won’t break sweat. It’s fairly easy to park despite its size, and if your idea of a fun weekend away involves camping, caravanning, water sports, climbing or any other outdoor activities, then the Disco is perfectly equipped to suit, especially since most are fitted with a towbar and electrics. Covering long distances is no problem, whichever engine you choose (though the fuel bills will be dramatically lower if you opt for a diesel), and many derivatives have such luxuries as an automatic gearbox, cruise control and air conditioning.
5 THE B-ROAD BLAST
Outright acceleration – even from the V8 – is underwhelming, but hustling a healthy Discovery on a twisty road can be rewarding. Although a bit raucous, the diesels offer decent pulling power if you keep the revs over about 2500rpm, and a good R380 manual gearbox has a sweet action to it. The lofty driving position and rock-solid running gear all add to the enjoyment. The brakes and clutch feel a little numb, as they’re built for durability and strength rather than responsiveness. To be enjoyable, though, it simply has to be in good mechanical condition. Many are poorly fettled or just a bit knackered, so the old advice of buying the best one you can afford certainly applies when looking for a Discovery.