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Classic Cars (UK) - - Our Cars -

1973 RANGE ROVER Owned by

Char­lie Magee clas­sic.cars@bauer­me­dia.co.uk 18 months

Wait­ing for the bill – some­what ner­vously Went on hol­i­day in it – beloved off­spring even en­joyed a free in­sect sa­fari in the rot­ten boot

Time owned Miles this month Costs

Pre­vi­ously

0 The Range Rover’s MOT test date had been loom­ing in the di­ary like a grim den­tal ap­point­ment for weeks – the sort of con­sul­ta­tion where you lis­ten to the den­tist tut­ting and con­tem­plate all those rushed brushes and bis­cuits be­fore bed­time.

I re­alised that this was what I would be in for if I just checked the bulbs and made sure the horn worked be­fore tak­ing it in to the test sta­tion; more di­rect ac­tion would be needed for the Range Rover to pass its MOT this time, let alone get a smi­ley-face sticker for be­ing a brave sol­dier.

Hav­ing in­spected the car’s un­der­side and prod­ded ner­vously – I wasn’t brave enough to poke too hard – at bits of brown and scaly metal (and I use the word ‘metal’ in its loos­est pos­si­ble sense), I armed my­self with a set of scene-of-crime pho­tos and ar­ranged to meet Richard Var­rall from Land Rover spe­cial­ist Fa­mous Four at the NEC Clas­sic Mo­tor Show last year.

Richard com­pared the pho­tos of my car with the im­mac­u­late – if only partly com­pleted – early two-door that he and his team were ex­hibit­ing and took me through the process that would ban­ish the cor­ro­sion from my over-dunked di­ges­tive of a car. It grad­u­ally dawned on me that I was go­ing to have to take the restora­tion work more se­ri­ously than I had first thought.

Adopt­ing his best chas­sis-side man­ner, Richard ex­plained that he has su­per­vised this kind of work many times be­fore and that all would be well. Even so, I still felt a lit­tle over­whelmed by the thought of how much of my car would be cut out and how much weld­ing would be needed. Richard seems to be able to sniff out all the clas­sic rust traps – of which there are many on a Range Rover – like a truf­fle hunter’s dog.

I made my way up the A1 to Fa­mous Four a cou­ple of weeks later, this time to drop the car off. The jour­ney was a good op­por­tu­nity to con­tem­plate what lay ahead while still en­joy­ing the drive – rusty as it was, it re­minded me just how great th­ese early Range Rovers are and how far ahead of their time they were.

Fa­mous Four’s in­spec­tions were rather more vig­or­ous than mine and re­vealed that rust was in­deed fes­ter­ing in all the usual places. The guys set to work, with my only pro­viso be­ing that they should keep the body on the chas­sis if at all pos­si­ble.

I was too busy with work to visit in per­son so Fa­mous Four emailed me nu­mer­ous pho­tos dur­ing the process de­tail­ing how the work was pro­gress­ing; they’ve ended up do­ing far more work than I was ex­pect­ing to ban­ish the cor­ro­sion and make the un­der­body as sound as pos­si­ble.

I’ve re­sisted the temp­ta­tion of hav­ing the ex­te­rior re­painted – save for a few body pan­els – be­cause this is a job for the fu­ture, but I did get the wheels and bumpers re­fur­bished. This should sharpen up the Range Rover’s looks a lit­tle and give it a bit of a Hol­ly­wood smile.

I think I’ll be need­ing that smi­ley-face sticker my­self when I see the fi­nal bill.

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