Some lusted after the Lamborghini Countach, but for me it was the Range Rover P38A… it smelled of luxury and yet could follow a mountain goat up a track.

BETTER START AT THE BEGINNING. Many years ago, my wife and myself, and a couple of friends went to a Mudgee Small Farm Field Day and, on a stand, amongst the tractors and pumps, shearing demonstrations and wood-chopping competitions, sat a P38A Range Rover with 4.0-litre V8 in HSE spec, painted in dark grey and with a matching interior.

It was love at first sight.

I climbed up and into the front seat and sat there feeling very superior. From my work vehicle, an XB Ford Falcon Panel Van, the Range Rover felt like I was sitting in a castle. It was this driving position that got under my skin.

Then the salesman strolled over and said if I would care to do some paperwork he could not think of any reason why I couldn’t take it home right away… I came back to earth with a thud after glancing at the $100k-plus price. I thanked him and said I would take a walk and give it some thought.

And I did… I thought that with a young family I was never going to get through my wife’s department of financial review, but I made myself a promise that one day I would own one.

As the memory fell into the background, the Mazda RX-3 we owned became too small and was traded for a Mazda 929 (the one with the pop-up headlights). It didn’t last long, being a two-door and having two kids it was impractical and ended up being traded, on a whim for an SD1 Rover 3500. That car became one of my great joys and an introduction into the world of Lucas electrics. He wasn’t known as the Prince of Darkness for nothing.

I fitted the Rover, or the White Car as it was known, with new, wider lower profiled wheels and tyres, adjustable Koni suspension a very loud exhaust and both the motor and automatic transmission were breathed on. That car nearly cost me my drivers’ licence and, with one point left, was sold to make way for a Series I Land Rover Discovery. I taught my son (now the editor of PM) to drive in that car.

At the same time, I bought an original Perentie-developed Carmichael Commando 6×6 (Range Rover) from a dinky little car dealer in Little Hartley, near Lithgow in Central West NSW. I was inching closer to my Range Rover HSE. The six-wheeler was pulled apart and restored from the ground-up, before being sold to a 4×4 tour company.

With the Disco still serving as the family car and a VW Transporter now my work vehicle, my new toy became a Jaguar XJS V12. It was Midnight Blue and designed for racing… it was replaced by another Jaguar XJS V12 that was in road-going condition and spec. However, my wife was becoming sick of the British cars clogging up the driveway and so the XJS was sold.

There followed several years of peace and quiet. The kids had left home and work was going well. What I mean was, it was going perfectly until the day I was feeling a bit crook and went to see the quack. He told me to immediately give up work… not in a year or a couple of months, or to start slowing down, but to quit that day. So, right smack in the middle of a three-day floor sanding job (I was a floor sander) I retired. I couldn’t even go back to finish the customer’s floor and had to find someone to finish it.

So, not being allowed to go back to work, for someone who’d dropped out of high school and been working since he was 14-years old, was going to be a problem. I became depressed. See, I’d gone from full-speed to a dead stop in just one day.

I sold all my machinery and my work vehicle and sat around feeling sorry for myself. Literally. I no longer had a vehicle of my own, and had to share with my still-working wife. I felt lost and began browsing the used car websites… and that’s when I saw it.

A 2000-model Range Rover Vogue with a 4.6-litre V8 and every single option you could possible imagine fitted. And, it was dark grey with a matching interior… just like the one I’d seen all those years ago. This was the one I wanted, not the new one that was on its way.

This car helped lift me out of my funk. I spoke with the dealership and placed a deposit, once the purchase had passed through the house of financial review, of course. I then tracked down the original owner… it was a one-lady-owner car, a line you should never accept at face value. Only this time it was true.

The car was trucked from Black Forest Land Rover in Adelaide (now closed) and despite being seven-years old it looked like a brand new car. It still even had a bit of that new car, new leather smell to it. And the back seat had never ever been sat in. And the original tyres were still on it and in seemingly new condition.

The Range Rover had a genuine 25,000km on the clock, after seven years. We cross-crossed the country several times before replacing the tyres which were starting to go hard, despite their appearance. We replaced them with a set of Coopers and have done whenever they’ve needed swapping. Choosing Cooper Tires was the best decision I ever made.

Then 18 months ago my illness reared its head again and I didn’t start or drive the Old Girl for a couple of weeks. Once I was feeling better, I simply removed the battery and trickle-charged it overnight. But with the battery charged it still wouldn’t start.

The Range Rover sat idle for six months later while my mechanic went grey and me greyer as we scoured the Internet for possible explanations. Land Rover Australia helped by putting me in touch with an ex-Land Rover technician. Sadly, he couldn’t help.

Finally, the solution was found in Ol’ Blighty, and an ex-Land Rover technician who’d worked for Land Rover when it swapped from Ford to BMW revealed it was the car’s security system that was the problem. Parts were no longer available for the system, so this bloke made them from scratch. Once fitted the car fired first time.

Other than that, I’ve only had to replace the air bags which developed cracks after sitting idle for so long and, of course the brakes, and a new alternator. I’d say that’s not too bad for a 17-year-old Range Rover that was way too technical for its own good.

This car helped me recover when I was at my lowest and I’m not ashamed to say that I love it. Despite my son’s advice, I won’t sell it. Ever.

What do I like the most about it? The driving position, of course. No other vehicle comes close to the driving position of a Range Rover.


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