Trading up to a Range Rover Classic
Photographer: Chris Cumming
I have loved cars since I was young. I grew up in the ’80s and a member of the Countach poster club, though a Porsche 911 Turbo by Ruf was a close second. My family got a Range Rover in the late ’80s and went through five or six as I grew up.
I have always felt that the RR classic is one of the most beautiful trucks ever made, and as it turns out, a strange story led me to the one I drive now.
I found this Land Rover Range Rover by accident. About 3 years ago, my wife and I had a leased 2010 VW GTI and a candidate for the worst car ever made, a 2001 VW Jetta Wagon. I was driving the GTI and my wife was driving the Jetta, however, with my commute the miles were adding up on the GTI. My wife insisted that I start driving the Jetta so we didn’t go over our lease miles. Not only was that Jetta terrible to drive, it was trashed—my wife and I have very different ideas of how to take care of a car.
I was miserable, and driving a trashed 2001 VW Jetta was very, very far from my childhood dreams of a Countach. My pleas for change fell on deaf ears, so I made a calculated decision that I would resort to complaining about that Jetta everyday and wear her down. It worked, with one big catch: I was not allowed to spend any money—I could get rid of the Jetta and the only money I could spend would be what I sold the Jetta for.
There was however this suspiciously good looking Range Rover Classic in this great red, with a price within what I thought I could sell the Jetta for. It only had 112,000 miles on it, and the interior was in great shape. The exterior was a little rough: it had the classic Range Rover ‘sag’ in the rear, tinted windows, and chrome plated wheels.
It looked like an unsuccessful drug dealer’s ride from 1998, however, it was clean…you just needed some vision of what it could be.
I made an appointment to go see it and my 3 year old son and I went to look at it. The guy who owned it was the second owner, and he had purchased it from a guy that kept it in storage for a number of years, explaining the low miles. We took it for a drive, and despite the rear end feeling like it was floating separately from the rest of the car, the engine was strong and most of the electrical stuff worked! I was hooked.
It may be old, return terrible mileage and it would probably strand me once a week, but at least it was beautiful, had style, and reminded me of my childhood. I said I’d take it.
This is where the story gets funny and a little weird.
I asked the gentleman why he was selling. He said that his family had recently purchased some property in the country, and driving the Range Rover back and forth was killing him mileage-wise. He loved the space, but needed something more fuel efficient. I said “You wouldn’t be interested in a Jetta Wagon would you?” He thought about it for a second and said, “Sure…why not?”
I will never forget the look on my wife’s face when we pulled up and explained what had happened. She said that I must be the only person on the planet who could figure out how to trade one car for another!
Now, my Range Rover is definitely different from the one I purchased. I have switched out the entire suspension with a Super Gaz kit and a 1.5″ lift. I’ve put in a new exhaust system, new ECU, and have completed required maintenance work. Cosmetically, I removed the tint, added driving lights and yellow fog lights, found new wheels, added larger tires, and most recently I had the headliner replaced.
Even though it’s no longer my daily driver, it has only stranded me once and has been more reliable than I ever dreamed.
I feel that these are the most beautiful trucks ever made—in my opinion, the rear end alone is one of the greatest design elements ever seen on a vehicle. I also love that I’ve been able to turn it into what I thought it could first be when I saw it on Autotrader. It still reminds me of being a kid, and sitting in the back seat on snowy drives to Vermont to go skiing with my family.
I also imagine that this is a car that I will have for many more years, and maybe one that my son will get to drive—he is certainly generating some of the same backseat memories that I did as a kid.
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