TRIED AND TESTED £12,500 / #Range-Rover
Simba 4x4 / Stourbridge, West Midlands / 07944 338318 / www.simba4x4.com
MILEAGE: 119,311 PRICE: £12,500 MOT: 11 MONTHS
The history of the original Range Rover will already be familiar to many readers, this ground-breaking model lasting an impressive 26 years from its introduction in 1970. Many changes were made throughout its lengthy career, particularly in the ’80s but for many fans the two-door models of the ’70s are the most desirable, as these are the models closest to the original Range Rover concept.
The example shown here just about scrapes into that category, as it was built in 1979. What sets it apart from most other Range Rovers in the UK, however, is the fact that it was assembled by Leyland South Africa (Pty) Ltd., one of BL’s numerous overseas divisions at the time. Having been imported to Britain only this year, it has therefore spent the last 37 years in a dry climate, and has never been subjected to extreme cold or salt-laden roads; the end result is an astonishingly wellpreserved Range Rover and one that’s been extremely well cared for by the same family throughout most of its life.
There are some interesting minor differences in spec thanks to this car’s South African background, the most obvious being the side rubbing strips at bumper level. It also boasts both air conditioning and a large Webasto-style sunroof, plus a km/h speedometer.
The odometer currently reads 92,013 kilometres, although the Land Rover specialist selling this Range Rover assumes it’s probably ‘been round the clock’. If that’s the case, then this handsome survivor has covered the equivalent of 119,000 miles to date – a figure that’s not exactly excessive after 37 years on the road.
Stourbridge-based Simba 4x4 specialises in classic Land Rover repairs and restoration, as well as hand-picked imports from South Africa. There’s still a reasonable supply of original-style Range Rovers available there, the majority of which were assembled by the Cape Town-based BL subsidiary that had earlier produced models like the 1100-based Austin Apache and an Austin-badged Marina. In each case, the cars would be assembled from CKD (complete knock down) kits sent over from the UK, with the Range Rover featured here proudly bearing an engine bay plate that boasts: ‘Built in South Africa’.
It’s recently been treated to a full respray in its original Arctic White. The end result is very pleasing, with an excellent finish throughout; but it’s when you start to look a little more closely that this particular Range Rover really starts to impress.
The respray was carried out simply because of faded paintwork from the harshness of the South African sunshine, as in every other respect this Range Rover is structurally original. The panels have survived the years incredibly well and remain corrosion-free, and the underside is equally untouched and undamaged. Every seam, every join and every weld looks factory fresh and unmolested, making this one of the most original examples of its type you’re likely to find at its £12,500 asking price.
There may be some Range Rover purists for whom only a Solihull-built example will do, but I can’t help feeling that this example’s South African backgrounds gives it some added interest. More importantly, it means you’re getting a Range Rover that has had none of the remedial or structural repairs that so many of its UK-based cousins have had to endure. The interior is also impressively original, although a replacement carpet has been fitted at some point. The tan-coloured leather upholstery is in a very good state, with no signs of major wear and tear.
On the mechanical front there’s been a general check-over by Simba 4x4, with nothing more required thanks to its healthy state; its MoT last month was passed with no advisories, enabling the vendor to begin the UK registration process. The 3.5-litre V8 fires up instantly from cold (aided by the welcome simplicity of a manual choke), quickly reaching normal temperature and settling down to a smooth idle. There’s no excessive smoke and no sign of any leaks or problems.
The four-speed (LT95) manual transmission works well, as does the transfer box. The brakes feel fine and the suspension appears to be noise-free and without issues. In fact, the whole vehicle feels impressively ‘tight’ for its age, largely thanks to its originality and the obvious care it’s received over the years.
It’s easy to see the appeal of this recent import from a dry climate. The cost of professionally restoring the bodywork and chassis of a down-at-heel UK-spec Range Rover would far exceed the asking price of this impressively well-preserved vehicle. Recent respray aside, it’s an extremely original example of its type, offering all the charm of a ’70s Range Rover (two doors, a basic dashboard, few frills) in a usable and ready-to-show package. Whether bought as a classic daily user or a headturning summer fun car, it appears to offer excellent value for money.