(Land Rover Monthly, March 2008)
One man’s vision, and no small amount of expense, leads to the creation of the most mouth watering Classic Range Rover on the planet.
Imagine that your pride and joy is a Classic Range Rover, and that it’s your off road vehicle. Imagine that it’s a bit past its best (in a big way) and could do with a bit of fettling (to say the least).
Then imagine that you have the means to take it to one of the top Land Rover refurbishers in the world and say “fix this will you … and while you are about it here is a list of stuff I want added”.
What kind of vehicle would you end up with? This one, probably.
Owned by a Land Rover enthusiast in Norway, the vehicle began life as a 1981 chassis to which was added a 1995 body shell. Simple enough, except that the body is one of the last ‘soft dash’ versions, is a left-hand drive type and was shipped over, in 1995, from the USA.
The whole thing was reassembled that year and the owner used it for the next seven years as a comfortable off-roader. During those years a number of modifications, such as ‘rock slider’ side sills, were made to bolster its off-road capability, but an engine fire put paid to its usability in a dramatic way.
As is the way of these things, the owner just couldn’t bear to be parted from the Range Rover that he’d come to know so well and began to look around for someone to bring the vehicle back to top specification. The search stopped with Foley Specialist Vehicles who have an international reputation for top quality work.
Plenty to do
When the Range Rover arrived at their premises in Roydon, near Harlow in Essex, it was in a sorry state. There was no engine, the front end was damaged and the seats had been removed and put in the back.
The air suspension was down and, though the bodywork was generally good, a few repairs were needed. But at least the gearbox was in place and in good condition.
“We knew the owner wanted to make his Range Rover literally as good as new – better even.” says Stuart Foley
“This wasn’t going to be a cheap project and we knew we were facing many hours in the workshop as well as tracking down parts and accessories to complete the vehicle to the standard the owner wanted. It wasn’t going to be an easy task.”
In fact, the job turned out to be, cost-wise, equivalent to buying a new Range Rover Sport – “just a bit more classic”, says Stuart.
“As with all projects,” says Stuart, “the start of the job and the large bits like the engine and the paint work are quite easy. Finishing the project is hard and time consuming.
“For example, all the door trims had been off and when we received the vehicle in July last year, all the nuts and bolts and parts that had been removed were placed in four large boxes. It took us a day just to lay it all out.”
Importantly though, the chassis was in ‘great condition’ and had been Waxoyled before delivery to Foley. “But the bodywork wasn’t so great, as you would expect from someone’s off-roader, and needed a complete repaint,” says Stuart.
The interior wasn’t too bad, despite the fact that the leather seats had been removed and dumped in the back of the vehicle. Stuart and his colleagues considered them to be in too good a condition to recover, so they were sent to a leather specialist for treatment.
The carpets were cleaned and repaired and the windows tinted. Most of the plastic trim had to be refitted under the dash and seats and one plastic speaker cover had to be resprayed to match as the company could only find a grey one.
“The air suspension caused some head-scratching moments as the wheels and tyres were over size and we had to set the suspension up more than six times before we found the best driving height,” says Stuarts.
One of the most complicated problems that they had to deal with was the amount of electrics to be squeezed in behind the dash. With so much additional wiring to be added, ranging from the air locking system to the complex hi-fi, speaker and radio, they all but ran out of space.
“Fitting it all in neatly gave us more than a few headaches,” said Stuart. “But we got there in the end.”
In fact, finding space under the bonnet to fit things in wasn’t easy either. The engine bay now bristles with new brackets for accessories and their accompanying relays and wiring. A home had to be found for an air compressor for the new ARB locking differentials, and they mounted the Webasto heater behind the front bumper on the right hand side, in a steel housing that was first zinc plated then black powder coated.
All this had to be completed after a tuned and fully-specced 4.6 litre V8 had be installed along with its new ancillaries. In fact, all the under-bonnet components were replaced with new.
Last minute glitch
The list at the bottom of this page gives an idea of the amount of work that has gone into this project. But a job like this is never quite over.
“The day before we were going to deliver the vehicle to the client who was flying in from Norway, the gearbox had a mechanical problem,”
“The auto box, which was new a couple of years ago, had stuck in gear. We managed to get hold of a reconditioned unit and worked on it all day and night to deliver the Range Rover to the customer in York the very next day.”
Stuart Foley describes this as “all in all a great project that we spent a lot of time and energy on, creating a great vehicle that will live a long time yet. Mechanically the vehicle is like new”.
And that’s really the point of this ambitious project. Few of us, I suspect, could afford to spend this kind of money to create what is essentially a contemporary classic – a vehicles with ever modern convenience, but with all the character and charm of a classic.
We might not have the means to do it ourselves, but we can absolutely understand this fortunate owner’s passion to create the ultimate classic off-roader.
- Complete air suspension renewed and raised 40mm to accommodate large wheels and tyres
- Four Koni dampers
- New wheels and tyres, BF Goodrich
- Air compressor fitted under the bonnet for locking diffs and inflator kit
- Webasto heater fitted behind right hand side of front bumper in steel bracket, zinc plated and black powder coated
- New bonnet
- One new front wing
- Steering guard
- Locking front and rear diffs air operated ARB
- Heavy duty steel front and rear bumpers sand blasted, zinc plated and powder coated
- Heavy duty steel sills sand blasted, zinc plated and powder coated
- Front A-bar made up to fit mega Xenon Hella spot lights
- Headlight conversion to Xenon
- Full stainless steel exhaust
- new mouldings on the body
- New decals
- Brakes: four new cross drilled discs and callipers
- Two Optima red top batteries
- Air conditioning replaced
- Alarm fitted
- Uprated stereo and amp
- Phone kit
- Two new fans with new large radiator
- New wheel bearings
- Numerous seals, clips, nuts, bolts, lock tabs, rubbers, hoses, etc, etc, etc …………