Thursday, July 06, 2017

British car nut interview

Thanks, Ben!

1. Why your love for Land Rovers?

Thinking back, Land Rover Love started at a farm in Cumbria, was out at our Aunt's as her husband was a Shepard, they had an old Series 2a in the hedge that my brother and myself used to go and play in. There was hardly any left but it was our imagination gateway from an African Adventure or a simple trip to school and everything in between. The smell is something I remember, old gear oil leaked out and caked in mud, you only ever get it on Land Rovers as they can’t hold their oil. 

It was also the only time I really got into trouble for injuring my brother, I dropped the heavy bonnet (had the spare wheel on it) and his arm was in the way. Oops….. 

Land Rovers were also the car that featured in our lives as we followed the British Military around. We also had one of the First 5 Door V8 Discovery’s in the Middle East, I learned to drive in this, went on my first date at the Embassy Club in that! 

My First car unsurprisingly was a Land Rover, I was in Land Cruiser/Patrol country Saudi, but I wanted a 70’s Land Rover so I ended up with a 1976 Series 3 Air Portable, Soft Top! No A/C and only a 1000kms from New. Had been sat in a field of 1000’s of others that the Saudi National Guard bought but never used. I saw fields of old unused Range Rovers, Land Rovers while off exploring as you do when younger. As mine had been in outside storage since the 70’s all the Oil Seals were worse than non-existent and it didn’t even have a roof when I collected it…… My tan improved massively while driving this. Roof was made by a local company for $20 and fuel was cheap, about $5 to fill both tanks. We came back to the UK in 1998 and I brought it with me, quite the contrast, It leaked when it rained and was expensive to run here, Fuel was the biggest increase in cost. But I was a student, living at home and it made for quirky transport around Nova/Micra/Fiesta that was the norm. Sadly I had to sell it to fund the purchase of a car that could be reliable as I needed something I could wear a suit/shirt/tie and not have to lift the bonnet to tickle the carb, not quite sure how I thought the 1988 RR 3.5 was the car for the task, but I did. 

I’m also blessed with a Boy that loves cars to, Subaru Rally Cars and 4X4’s! So we have a great time. He comes to shows and things with me, it’s hard sometimes as a sub 7 Year old can be, but watching him when he is really interested is worth the pain we also recently bought a Play car for him for up in the woods….. was cheaper than a play house.

2. In the US, Range Rovers have a horrible reputation for reliability. What's your take on it?

My take on the LR in the US? Jeep is worse, yet can do no wrong…… I had a YJ Wrangler, I have been there. Far too Baywatch for downtown Basingstoke. I had Oil Leaks, Knackered Diff, Injection Problems, Corrosion and the Death Wobble…. Nothing prepares you for that when it hits at 70mph! Had a WJ V8 Grand Cherokee too, Rear Diff again on that was shot, cooling system didn’t work too well either. I also had a 6.5 TD 4x4 Chevy Suburban, (that had an amazing story with it how it came to be in the UK, worth of an page or two on its own) sure it could tow the house and Airstream (I have a 31’ as an office, always wanted one so finally did it and needed to tow it) but what gives with the inner door handles? I must have had 5 interior ones, thank god for Rock Auto website and reasonable shipping. That also had me doing Diagnosis two days after buying it for Non-Start, turned out a Failed Fuel Control Device (PMD), genius design…… let’s put something that doesn’t like getting hot where it will overheat. In my view Land Rovers are no worse or better. Sure If I had enough money I’d buy a 300D/350D G-Wagen, but I don’t. However, later Land Rovers while owned by BMW and then PAG (Ford?) were shocking. I was in the Middle East for the launch of the P38 RR, looked amazing but was fragile.

3. Why do you have so many Rovers?

See 1, And they Breed…… I do also have a passion for MK1 and MK2 VW Golf GTi’s I have several currently including one I have had since 2003. But they usually come and go, unlike the Land Rovers, that hang about.

4. What is your opinion on the new Evoque and Discovery Sport?

Disco Sport, Evoque were inevitable, but there is real danger of brand dilution like Mini has experienced. The Disco Sport is supposed to be a 3 row (7 Seater) but I wouldn’t put my child back there, plus my Lab can’t sit properly in there! Not enough head room for him, the boot is very similar in size to the Audi Q7 one, we couldn’t get one as he wasn’t comfortable in that either! Also not a fan of linking Vehicles to celebs the Victoria Beckham Evoque link just put me off before I even saw one.

5. What is your opinion on the new Discovery?

New Discovery. I really wanted to like this. But, having had D1/D2/D3’s this is not a Discovery, I went to Frankfurt to the Motor Show and looked over it for a long time. I know it’s a funky Terrain Response Control and Intelligent Systems, The Doors were huge, Saab 900 style part of the sill, the tailgate is no longer Split, the boot Floor is too high, and generally just not what a Discovery is to me. Don’t even get me started on the New Defender.

6. Tell us about your 400 pound BMW 525d wagon.

The BM? Haha! Bangernomics at its best. I ended up with this as a PX for my D3 when I sold it. It’s a 2002 E39 525d Auto, I should have just flipped it, but I liked it and always wanted one. So I replaced brakes, suspension bushes and couple of Injectors. Had an annoying vibration at 60-80mph turned out to be Front Brake Calipers. Total mileage is unknown as it came with a Dash Pod in the boot, and the ECU has breaker yard scribbles on it, might be due to chip key loss/fail, but no way of knowing. Currently showing 265k, but I’m thinking it would be about the 350-400k mark as its tired, but presentable. I do all the work, maintenance myself. I’ll admit I’m slack to change oil when it demands but I save up jobs to do all in one shot. Parts? I use eBay and Motor Factors, cheapest wins! As mentioned I bought a scrap 525d sedan, this was £200, It only needed the injectors at the time, the scrapper was half the cost of them. I stripped the rest and have it all in the barn. Headlamps are the worse though, the adjusters collapse/disintegrate so you have to change, but even then the light is poor. Think I’ll replace this soon with a Mercedes E320 CDi Wagon as yet to try one.

7. Do you need special computers/tools to work on your fleet of Rovers at home?

No, the 110/Disco 1 are as basic as they come, although sometimes you forget how basic and try too hard to fix what is really a simple issue. The Discovery 2 has a NANOCOM (£300) in the glovebox as they are always throwing up lights and this was/is the best non dealer unit I think, for them, even reprogrammed a New ECU/Immobiliser for it after the Accident as the bottle jack went through the old one, the bottle jack is no longer stored next to the ECU! I have also had this upgraded to include the P38 Range Rover, but I’m just about to sell the RR, I have fixed everything (quite a big list) I want to, the rest is bodywork so I’ll move it on before something else lets go. The BM is a basic OBD 2 system but reality is, you can tell what’s up with it when it’s not running right. Sensor failure would be hard to track so this would need a reader, but not 100% accurate with the early OBD.

8. What do you think of the Land Cruiser series? Why do you prefer Rovers over Land Cruisers?

I love the 60, 70 and 80 Series Cruisers but I love the Land Rover more. ;) Best way to describe is, Land Rover fits me, I fit it. Toyota, I’m too tall (Armrest and Headrest too low) and a few pounds too heavy to be comfortable in one. However, I will always have a special place for a certain 80 Series LC. Also they are amazing in the sand but not as good on two wheels as a Nissan Patrol…… ;)

9. You do not like buying new cars. Why?

New Cars…… don’t get me wrong, money no object I’d probably change and have a new car every week. But I like older cars. I like something that’s lived, got bumps, lumps and character, like my old Peugeot 306 that you had to hit the dashboard just above the glovebox to start the heater fan, but hit it too hard then you lost dashboard lights. I was given a Merc 500 S Class Coupe, this needed the electrics sorting, had all dashboard lights on and some rather random issues with Wipers and Indicators! Fixed that with some help of the internet and YouTube too! This was a good fun car for a few months, but sold it on as it was far too low for our new drive.

10. Why do you love cars?

HAHA, Yes I love cars. I got to a point though when I was annoyed with cars, so I did a year when I worked for a Bakery/Catering Contractor, it was fun, but I got no satisfaction from fixing Milkshake machines, Setting Grille Gaps or Rebuilding Dough Dividers, I did like how they worked but it’s not my thing. So I craved the car based trade. I lasted a year with the Bread Makers Boys and got a role with a local Nissan garage, running Parts and Service, was full on but got me the fix of Oil and Hydrocarbons, This was to be my undoing, I loved the cars, just not the customers…… Luck struck with an agency offering me a job, it was a pay cut, no company car but the important parts were, It’s based on the love of car geekiness, No Saturdays and NO CUSTOMERS! Started that in 2006 been there ever since.

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