Our Land Rovers

Jérôme takes his pair of Range Rovers to petrol­heads’ heaven

LRO (UK) - - Contents - Jérôme An­dré IN­TER­NA­TIONAL ED­I­TOR

Jérôme takes two of his Range Rovers to Good­wood; Mark wres­tles with his Freelander 1’s cool­ing sys­tem; and Neil lights up our De­fender’s life

‘Please don’t let it be my ve­hi­cle that stalls or misses gear when the che­quered flag drops’

Afew months ago, I re­ceived an email from Land Rover ask­ing if I wanted to be part of a spe­cial event dur­ing the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed. The plan was to gather 70 unique mod­els for a never-seen-be­fore con­voy up the fa­mous hill­climb. Er, yes please!

I found out that Mr Land Rover him­self, Roger Crathorne, had selected two of my Range Rovers to be part of this record-break­ing pa­rade to mark Land Rover’s 70th an­niver­sary.

There were a lot of other in­ter­est­ing, pri­vately owned Land Rovers in­vited, as well as ve­hi­cles from the Dunsfold Col­lec­tion and the Bri­tish Mo­tor Mu­seum.

I had to get there ridicu­lously early – so when I turned up in the early hours with the TRĚK Range Rover P38 and G4 Chal­lenge L322, about 40 Land Rovers were al­ready per­fectly aligned. Roger had set up each model by year, start­ing with the Cen­tre Steer replica and the iconic HUE 166. Bring­ing up the rear was the 2018 hy­brid Range Rover L405.

For a cou­ple of hours, I had the chance to chat with many of the other driv­ers – I could hap­pily have spent the whole week­end there, ogling rare Land Rovers that are rarely if ever seen away from a mu­seum dis­play.

Up to the start line

The Land Rover crew made sure we were on our way in an or­derly fash­ion and bang on time.

Af­ter a pause on a dirt track near the bot­tom of the hill climb, we inched for­ward, two-abreast, to the start line.

Anx­i­ety lev­els reached 11 for ev­ery­one wait­ing their turn, grip­ping their steer­ing wheels like their lives de­pended on it, and mut­ter­ing: ‘Please don’t let it be mine that stalls or misses gear when the che­quered flag drops.’

Well, that’s what was go­ing through my mind, any­way…

Thank­fully (sur­pris­ingly, per­haps, bear­ing in mind that

the old­est ex­am­ples were 70 years old) no one suf­fered a mishap, and the su­perb con­voy drove up the hill as one. The crowd cheered and ap­plauded as we made our way up the climb; all the driv­ers were wear­ing earto-ear smiles.

The weather was su­perb when we set off – but half­way through the run, rain in­vited it­self to the party, get­ting a cou­ple of open­top oc­cu­pants se­ri­ously wet.

But it didn’t mat­ter; we all made it to the top. We then parked, again in su­perbly or­gan­ised fash­ion, for a mo­men­tous photo of all the ve­hi­cles and driv­ers to­gether. Our work was done.

But, quelle hor­reur, Land Rover’s long-time pho­tog­ra­pher Nick Dim­bleby told me he’d no­ticed on some of his pics that my P38 was sag­ging at the rear.

I had no­ticed that the rear off­side cor­ner was a lit­tle lower than it should have been, but only marginally. In fact, I’d al­ready booked in the Range Rover to be checked soon af­ter that week­end to find out what was go­ing on.

Giv­ing up the ghost

I dis­cov­ered soon enough. On leav­ing Good­wood that evening, one of my Range Rovers broke down – for the first time ever with me. The one main

el­e­ment we hadn’t re­placed on the TRĚK fol­low­ing last year’s full ren­o­va­tion was the air com­pres­sor – and that duly gave up the ghost a few miles af­ter we’d set off from Good­wood.

By rights, I should have been as de­flated as the P38’s sus­pen­sion. But how could I be an­noyed when ‘Treky’ had so ob­vi­ously made an ef­fort not to let go be­fore or dur­ing the hill­climb?

What a trooper! It could have died ear­lier, on the 150-mile drive to the show – but no, it held on un­til the end. If any­thing, my ad­mi­ra­tion for it grew right there by the road­side – I would be happy to treat it to a new com­pres­sor and valve sys­tem!

Sure, I could have done with­out the ride in the re­cov­ery truck, which dropped me home at 5am. But the Range Rover is for­given for hav­ing saved me the em­bar­rass­ment of be­ing the only one to break down on the mem­o­rable hill climb – now that would not have helped the P38’s rep­u­ta­tion! As for BT52 CNE, the G4 Chal­lenge L322, it drove up and down like a champ.

These two were al­ready spe­cial, but be­ing part of this pa­rade makes me cher­ish them even more: hard to imag­ine a bet­ter way to cel­e­brate the 70th than do­ing the Good­wood hill climb in your own Range Rover. That’s one off the bucket list.

As amaz­ing a line-up of Land Rovers as you’ll ever see

A ner­vous-look­ing Jérôme ready for the off in the P38

‘I’m pretty sure it was No 48, of­fi­cer’

At least it didn’t hap­pen ear­lier…

Gavin Thomp­son (left) and Roger Crathorne

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