Your Land Rovers

With his well-prepped Range Rover Sport, James Sandison has the per­fect ve­hi­cle for ex­plor­ing the whole of Aus­tralia

LRO (UK) - - Contents -

A well-pre­pared Range Rover Sport makes the per­fect out­back ex­plorer

When you grow up in Aus­tralia, chances are you will ei­ther be a Ford or Holden man. The Ford Fal­con and Holden Com­modore were Aus­tralian home-grown he­roes and ev­ery Aussie kid grow­ing up wanted a V8 they saw rac­ing at Bathurst on the TV. This led me to own a string of V8 and Turbo I6 Fal­con Utes (two-door pick-ups unique to Aus­tralia). These are great for a young cou­ple but no good for trans­port­ing chil­dren. It was just be­fore Christ­mas 2016 when we got the news that we had a ‘young bloke’ on the way, so I had to start think­ing about some­thing a bit more prac­ti­cal with a min­i­mum of five seats.

My Scot­tish old man has al­ways been into his Land Rovers, with a 300Tdi Dis­cov­ery and P38 at home. I sup­pose that had some­thing to do with my de­ci­sion, but I had al­ways looked at the Sports, any­how. The Sport is es­sen­tially just a dressed-up Dis­cov­ery, and I al­ways won­dered why peo­ple weren’t kit­ting them out for the bush!

When I started look­ing I had set my­self a bud­get of AUD$30,000 (around £17,000) to buy, mod­ify and reg­is­ter what would have to be my daily driver, tow rig and bush basher! I had the vi­sion to cre­ate an off-road-ca­pa­ble Range Rover Sport on a bud­get. This has been dif­fi­cult due to the lack of af­ter­mar­ket parts avail­able, but I’ve been able to adapt bits and pieces to suit – which has al­lowed me to keep costs to a min­i­mum. This is a unique car in my area, and I’m glad to have some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent to your run-of-themill Toy­ota or Nis­san.

I bought my 2007 TDV8 Sport in June 2017 from a re­tired gentle­man in Mel­bourne. He truly could not be­lieve that I had plans to take the car off-road and gen­uinely wasn’t aware the car had low range gear­ing or how to use it. I don’t think the car had ever seen gravel roads ei­ther. In Vic­to­ria, we call lux­ury SUVS that never leave the pave­ment ‘Toorak Trac­tors’, Toorak be­ing a high­end, su­per ex­pen­sive sub­urb of Mel­bourne. Mine was cer­tainly a Toorak Trac­tor! I ended up get­ting the car for the right price and am well on track to fin­ish the mods list and stay un­der my bud­get.

To keep costs to a min­i­mum I’ve com­pleted all the work my­self and adapted generic items to suit my ap­pli­ca­tion. I started with a manda­tory bull-bar. I used one made by Op­po­site Lock for Dis­cov­ery 4s – it fits right in, only leav­ing a small gap at the top. I wanted this to house a 12,000lb winch. The snorkel is a Disco 4 item that fit­ted eas­ily too. Next was a roof bas­ket (it’s a Nis­san Pa­trol one I mod­i­fied with cus­tom built stain­less roof rails, but don’t tell!). I’ve added some light­ing power with a 52in roof-mounted curved light bar, dual 9in LED spot lights and re­verse lights.

I also fit­ted a set of Tuf­fant 18x8in steel rims with 285/60 R18 Mon­sta Mud War­rior mud tyres, and a home­made mid­dle and rear si­lencer delete pipe, of­fer­ing a sweet, growl­ing ex­haust sound.

Fi­nally, I’ve filled the back with a few re­cov­ery items such as a Hi-lift jack, a bat­tery-pow­ered chain­saw, snatch straps, shack­les, shov­els and Max­trax; all stan­dard equip­ment out here. I plan to up­grade the boot with some heavy-duty draw­ers, a dual bat­tery sys­tem, a fridge on a slide, and wa­ter stor­age for camp­ing and tour­ing. I also plan to fab­ri­cate some rock slid­ers and scrub rails at­tached to the bul­bar. I want to make a fully sealed stain­less 4in snorkel to re­place the plas­tic D4 unit I am cur­rently run­ning, as it is not prop­erly wa­ter­tight for deep cross­ings. There are al­ways other items that I’ll in­evitably add to this list.

In fact, the Sport is now due for a set of front lower con­trol arm bushes and sway bar bushes, but I was aware of this at the time of buy­ing; and, know­ing they’re a com­mon fault, I’m not sur­prised they need re­plac­ing.

I live right on the edge of the Great Di­vid­ing Range in South East Vic­to­ria. I’ve been off-road in the US, Canada and parts of the UK and I have to say we’re very lucky with the ac­cess to moun­tain tracks, rivers, camp­ing spots, 150-year-old mine work­ings and set­tle­ments with next to noth­ing in be­tween. All that, and we’re still close to the beach!

I’ve toured the Grampians and Ca­nunda Na­tional Parks – vis­it­ing re­mote wa­ter­falls, lakes and some of the tallest sand dunes in the south­ern hemi­sphere – yet I can’t wait to dis­cover more of my fan­tas­tic coun­try in this fan­tas­tic Range Rover Sport.

‘The seller couldn’t be­lieve I had plans to take it off-road and wasn’t even aware it had low range’

No longer an ur­ban limo: this one means busi­ness

Un­si­lenced V8 diesel makes sweet mu­sic

18in steel rims and D4 snorkel are just the ticket

Much of the equip­ment needed tweak­ing to fit

Stan­dard re­cov­ery gear for an Aussie bush-goer

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