1973 Range Rover Owned by Charlie Magee (firstname.lastname@example.org) Time owned Two years Miles this month 150 Costs this month £1500 Previously Stood in for Ross’s Lancia at Le Mans
The Suffix-a has been in almost constant use since Ross Alkureishi and I returned from the 2016 Le Mans Classic. For a few months I’d resisted the urge to take it off the road for anything major but since the rear tailgate was looking shabby, I felt I could justify a little downtime to brighten it up. It would also banish the rust that was starting to dominate the outer edges of the upper tailgate. This was the perfect opportunity to not only replace the rusty steel frame with an aluminum one but also to fit a new period-correct rear screen, with the short printed heating element. These cars tended to go through quite a lot of modifications during their utility period years, so it takes a fair bit of automotive archaeology to get things right.
Land Rover parts specialist Famous Four in Louth is pretty well known for its remanufactured aluminum (not steel) upper tailgate as a replacement. But recently it had started to commission rear windows with heating elements to match various years of manufacture. Date-wise, my car falls between no heated screen and the first available. I plumped for the latter, because the wiring was there and a bit of practicality wouldn’t go amiss.
I’d been searching for a drop-down number plate mechanism for a while. These evolved away on later cars and somewhere down the line so had the one on mine. I assume that as the Range Rover went more upmarket, the need for hauling tree trunks around with the boot open had been replaced with visits to antique shops.
I managed to get my hands on a battered red one with the correct domed lights. Judging by the number of screw holes it bore, it had supported many different number plates. But, as with my lower tailgate, the guys at Famous Four rescued it by filling in the blanks and giving it a few coats of Tuscan blue.
Most modifications to early Range Rovers were intended to make the car more practical – it was first and foremost a tool. And remaining in production for such a long period allowed owners to plunder a treasure trove of contemporary parts and bring their cars closer to the 21st century models. At least with my car one item that has not been messed around with is the engine, and that will be the subject of my next bit of restoration work.
Charlie’s early Range Rover is a proper workhorse, so its rear end was getting shabby