Fam­ily run­about – P38

Jon needed a daily driver with room for his wife and three chil­dren. Plus P38

LRO (UK) - - Contents -

Mod­i­fied for fun off-road and on the beach

‘The P38 is Jon’s mo­bile of­fice – so bad weather is never an ex­cuse to miss work, in floods or in snow’

You know it’s go­ing to be a great shoot when you re­ceive an email be­fore it that says the fol­low­ing: ‘I’m happy to get it pol­ished and de­tailed be­fore you take the pics, and equally happy to get it muddy af­ter­wards.’ Spot on. Top chap.

True to his word, as we ar­rive at the pho­to­shoot lo­ca­tion, the P38 is wait­ing for us gleam­ing, Jon’s grin­ning and it’s loaded to the gun­nels with ex­cited kids, wrig­gling dog, kayaks, surf­boards, and heav­ens knows what else. ‘I didn’t know what might be needed, so I just brought ev­ery­thing,’ says Jon.

That’s the beauty of the Range Rover. If you want true ad­ven­ture or merely a day at the beach, it’s big enough to swal­low ev­ery­thing at one gulp and come back for sec­onds.

But why a P38? It’s a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion. Jon de­scribes him­self as be­ing heav­ily into the green­lan­ing scene and had en­joyed a cou­ple of RR Clas­sics over the years, in­clud­ing one he had bob­tailed. Even­tu­ally he had to give up his beloved Clas­sic when par­ent­hood beck­oned and he bought a Jaguar just be­fore his son was born – a preg­nant wife and lifted bob­tail with bucket seats were non-com­pat­i­ble. A few years later they were ex­pect­ing an­other happy event, which turned out to be even hap­pier than ex­pected, as they found out they were hav­ing twins. The Jag had to go as a dou­ble buggy would not fit in the boot, so his wife Sally sug­gested Jon went out and bought some­thing ‘sen­si­ble’.

Like all good Land Rover peo­ple no fur­ther ex­cuse was needed, and Jon got the P38. It started life as a bog-stan­dard 4.6 HSE, but over the years he has adapted it into a week­end toy and mule for car­ry­ing bikes to the Quan­tocks (did we men­tion he’s a huge down­hill moun­tain bike fan?) and boards to the beach.

Over the last ten years he and it have clocked up many happy miles but in­evitably the Range Rover didn’t stay stan­dard for very long. The list of mod­i­fi­ca­tions has grad­u­ally grown as he re­fined the stan­dard ve­hi­cle into some­thing to suit his busy life­style per­fectly.

It’s still Jon’s daily driver and he finds that when work­ing with young of­fend­ers (his day job) and the YMCA, it’s al­ways a good talk­ing point with the kids – it’s an es­pe­cially great ice-breaker with the ones that can be hard to en­gage with. It’s his mo­bile of­fice, too, as he trav­els all over Som­er­set meeting young peo­ple who need sup­port.

He’s found it use­ful in floods on the Som­er­set Lev­els and in snow on Ex­moor – so bad weather is never an ex­cuse to miss work.

The list of mod­i­fi­ca­tions isn’t mas­sive, but it is well con­sid­ered. To start off, with more than an oc­ca­sional off-road foray in mind, extra ground clear­ance was the way to go, so a Ter­rafirma +2 coil and spring kit and De­fender +2 spring spac­ers have given it enough lift for even a big girl like the P38 to cope with tough ter­rain. Jon’s also fit­ted a set of ex­tended brake lines to com­pen­sate for the lift.

Bull­dog wheel spac­ers have given a bit of extra space to al­low for a set of big Cooper Dis­cov­erer STT PRO tyres to live un­der the arches. And although he’s not plan­ning on bang­ing the Range Rover against anything, it can hap­pen, so pro­tec­tion was on the shop­ping list. This in­cluded a Ter­rafirma front axle slider, a rear axle guard from the same source and one of their snorkels. Rap­tor 4x4 came to the aid of the body­work with a set of its tree/rock slid­ers and while he was at it Jon bought a Rap­tor winch bumper and a steer­ing guard to match.

Some­thing we are see­ing more and more of is the sort of com­puter tech we’re all getting used to at home slot­ted into our Land Rovers. In this case Jon has fit­ted on-board ipad map­ping, mean­ing he can ac­cess all of the func­tions, from GPS to the in­ter­net. Slightly lower tech is a CB ra­dio, for keep­ing in touch with other mem­bers of his lo­cal club (Sedge­moor and Lev­els Ad­ven­ture 4x4), es­pe­cially in big spa­ces like Sal­is­bury plain and also for his work with South West 4x4 Re­sponse, his lo­cal res­cue net­work. He’s also got a Winch­max elec­tric winch.

While the cav­ernous in­te­rior copes with him, his wife, three chil­dren and a dog (al­beit a very small one) once they start pack­ing up for an ad­ven­ture it’s soon crammed. The roof rack is on per­ma­nently, the front bars pro­vid­ing dual ser­vice for a high-lift jack and a light bar. Once a pair of kayaks are on top, it re­ally is a full house.

Lo­cal com­pany Bridg­wa­ter Tyres and Ex­hausts came up with a crack­ing-look­ing stain­less ex­haust with cus­tom mid-box and straight­through pipe – and it sounds lovely!

If Jon had to start again, I ask, would he have done anything dif­fer­ently? ‘It’s more what I should have done,’ he replies. ‘I need to wa­ter­proof the electrics. En­cas­ing them in Tup­per­ware is the plan. And re­mem­ber to put the lids on for any sort of wad­ing. It re­ally works.’

So what other nuggets can Jon pass on to other P38 own­ers who are keen to do some mod­i­fi­ca­tions? He says find­ing off-the-shelf parts for mod­i­fi­ca­tions can be dif­fi­cult, but as P38s get older things are start­ing to ap­pear from the big­ger brands like Ter­rafirma and Rap­tor 4x4.

Some items can be adapted from De­fender and Dis­cov­ery parts, but most of all he reck­ons any­one think­ing of trick­ing up a P38 should visit the on­line fo­rums to see what’s al­ready been done. He notes that Aus­tralians sup­pli­ers are way ahead of the UK in P38 mod­i­fi­ca­tion, but adds that postage is aw­fully ex­pen­sive...

Jon is re­fresh­ingly hon­est, though, and says it is still very much a learn­ing curve even af­ter ten years of mod­i­fy­ing and im­prov­ing his P38. His best sug­ges­tion for other own­ers is to learn from read­ing LRO, and throw­ing ideas around the fo­rums for points in the right direction.

Nat­u­rally, Jon’s Range Rover is still a work in progress. The list of jobs to do in­cludes the afore­men­tioned ECU Tup­per­ware-style en­case­ment or pos­si­bly re-po­si­tion­ing the electrics out of the way of any pos­si­ble water ingress. Then there’s fit­ting a rack-mounted spare wheel or swing-away, if he gets the time. Plus, he’d very much like some ex­tended whee­larches and steel mod­u­lar wheels.

Af­ter spend­ing the day with Jon, I’m pretty sure this list will con­tinue to grow.

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Jon has in­stalled hi-tech kit like an ipad for GPS nav­i­ga­tion, but has also re­tained his old-school CB ra­dio. This en­ables him to keep in touch with mem­bers of his lo­cal club on off-road ad­ven­tures in Som­er­set.

To­day it’s kayaks, next week­end moun­tain bikes...

Jon’s found a wide va­ri­ety of uses for his high-lift sys­tem Some­times, you just have to cram it all in Learn­ing from oth­ers Quite a few of Jon’s ideas are, he ad­mits, thanks to bright sparks on var­i­ous P38 fo­rums. He’s taken tips from Australian own­ers, too – he reck­ons they’re way ahead of the UK in cer­tain as­pects of mod­i­fi­ca­tion.

Verdict I’ve never taken much no­tice of P38s. Yeah, they’re not bad-look­ing but they’ve have never floated my Land Rover boat. That is un­til now. I loved this one – Jon has man­aged the right pack­age of off-road and lux­ury, and with the gas con­ver­sion there’s enough econ­omy to be able to run it fairly com­fort­ably. Can I have it, with all the beach kit too, please?

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