Our Land Rovers
Jérôme takes his pair of Range Rovers to petrolheads’ heaven
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