Mudmaster 2017 event report

Keeping it in the family

LRO editor Neil Watterson competes in Gemm 4x4 Mudmaster 2017

Gordon and Lisa McCheyne take first place

Gordon and Lisa McCheyne take first place

It was all going so well. We’ve rattled round an orienteering section, picking up all of the code boards well within time and cleared four trial sections before moving onto the fourth venue of the day – and another orienteering section.

Twenty code boards are dotted around the 200 acre site and we have to find them, record them and return to the start with 30 minutes. This is Gemm 4x4 Mudmaster 2017 – an off-road competition that tests both the driver’s and navigator’s skill and we’re in central Scotland.

Now, it’s fortunate that I do quite a few of these events, so I know the format. And Phil, who is behind the wheel, isn’t too shabby when it comes to off-road driving. We won the event a couple of years ago and missed out on the top spot by just one point last year. Could we regain it?

We’re counted down by the start marshal and pick out the first four code boards – 300mm high white letters on black backgrounds – quite easily. I know where the fifth one should be, but we overshoot on the slippery grass and the tyres struggle to find enough grip on the muddy rocks we’re now on. We’ve got to go forward, and down the hill.

A Forces Network cameraman is ready to film us make the descent. Phil selects ‘Drive’ on the Defender’s autobox and we bounce down the steep hill. Only when he goes to drive up the other side do we realise we’ve just made our rather hurried descent in neutral (see footage on Forces Network).


But we pick a route through the trees, find the next few boards and go back and collect number 5 – which is just out of sight from where we were. We spin round and cross a boggy section, struggle to find 9, before descending again towards the eleventh marker. And there’s a military Wolf 110 sitting spinning its wheels in the mud.

Mudmaster is run jointly by the Scottish Land Rover Owners Club and the British Army Motorsports Association – so although it’s a competition, it’s also a military exercise. And this year the military and civilian motors started in alternating order – so the running order was civilian, military, civilian, military, etc.

We're car 5, but the stuck Wolf is car 12. How it has got ahead of us, we don’t know, but it needed help. Out comes the military tow strap, but there isn't enough give in the rope to jolt the Defender out of its ruts. So we dig out my more stretchy nylon recovery rope instead – and with mud and grass being flung everywhere by the 90’s tyres, the military Land Rover is extracted. It’s cost us five minutes, but we’ve still plenty of time.


The site is becoming more crowded now and we catch up another couple of Wolfs as we record more letters, eventually reaching the finish after 25 minutes; well within time, and with a completed scorecard. We’re pretty pleased and clear the next trial section easily before disaster strikes.

Phil and I have walked the course, but weren’t paying that much attention to it. So when we drive it, we drop into ruts and the tyres’ sidewalls simply don’t have enough claw into the walls of the ruts to get us out. We’ve scored 7 points and that has almost certainly put us out of the running for the win.

The next driver attempts the section, and doesn’t get out, even on extreme tyres. Maybe we’ll be lucky – but we know were the first to pick up points on that section.


Slightly despondent, we rejoin the road route, keeping an eye out for any 10cm square letter boards that have been placed along the route and make it to lunch. The top crews all have a clean sheet from the trials. Oh well, that’s us definitely out of the running. Still, at least it means the pressure’s off and we can enjoy it.

Another couple of trial sections are followed by a navigation test along forest tracks, which we nail, then a couple of very boggy trial sections before we reach the final section of the day: 12 minutes to find 12 markers in woodland.

Light is fading, but it’s not dark yet. We plunge down the hill into the wood and get the first board. It’s not a huge site, so it’s tricky to gauge distances. And the low light doesn’t help either. Three tracks run parallel and I’m not sure which one we’re on. I record one board but can’t finds the next, so we spin round and look in the opposite direction and collect it.

We loop round and the tyres scrabble to find grip on the hills, but we’re still going, One-by-one we’re getting closer to the finish and Phil floors the throttle pedal to get us up the hill, the final code board reflecting in the Defender’s main beam. Darkness has fallen – I haven't realised that the boards are reflective until this point. Another clear, and well within time.

We’ve done everything we can, but those seven points have ended it for us and when the overnight scores are handed out at the first section of day two, we’re in eighth place on 11 points. Gordon and Lisa McCheyne lead, having dropped just three points the previous day.

Gemm 4x4's George McLay conquers a soft section

Gemm 4x4's George McLay conquers a soft section

We kick off day two with an autotest and watch the first couple of vehicles go round. I’m slightly the worse for wear: we'd been enjoying the craic with the lads from the Highland 4 Wheel Drive Club and some of the Royal Navy crews late into the evening.

So when we arrive at the first cone garage, I struggle to find where we are on the test diagram. Then I tell Phil to drive the wrong side of a cone before realising my mistake and we ‘unwind’ the error. It’s cost us time, but at least we haven’t picked up more points. I need to get myself together.

Phil dispatches three trials sections with ease followed by two at the next site. When we arrive at the final site, Gordon asks whether we’d spotted any code boards on the roads. They hadn’t – and neither had we.

Gordon clears the sections, so, unless they have picked up any unknown penalties – driving standards are checked by observers and speed gun-equipped teams are also out – it’s all over. They haven’t, and it is.


We recover another stuck Wolf, clear the trials and return to event HQ, 221 (Glasgow) Transport Squadron, 154 (Scottish) Regiment RLC, where the results are tallied.

We’ve retained our position, but a couple of errors has shaken up the top crews. Gordon and Lisa take the win, Martin Duncan and daughter Rhona get second place and Ruari and Louise Treble take third in their Tdi-powered Lightweight. Fourth place goes to Stephen and Anne O’Rourke, meaning the top four crews are family teams.

First military goes to Royal Navy’s Rory Lowther and Andrew Richman, who had driven their winterised 110 up from RNAS Yeovilton, and because you can only win one award, Phil and I get 1st Outlander – which goes to the highest placed non-Scottish crew.


Last year’s event wasn’t a classic, but this year’s was, with plenty of mud and tricky navigation. As for 2018? Well, Phil and I have decided we’re not going to compete next year – instead we’re going to help marshal and maybe even set some sections. So that means there’s more space for fresh crews to take part.

Next year's event will take place on 27-28 October 2018. See you there!


Find out more about 4x4 Navigation events in the December 2017 issue of Land Rover Owner International, on sale now.

Nene Overland vehicle and parts extravaganza at the LRO Show

Nene Overland are holding a vehicle and parts extravaganza at the LRO Show on 16 -17 September


When you get to the LRO Show, make sure you make a beeline for the Nene Overland stand – they’ve got a wealth of rare and exotic vehicles and parts on display; some for sale on the day, others up for auction on the company’s eBay store.


Always fancied a Land Rover Defender 90SV? They’ve got one. A Half-Ton (Lightweight) Desert Reconnaissance Vehicle more your thing? Yup – there’s one of those too. How about a 34,000 mile VM Turbo Diesel Range Rover Classic? Oh, yes. There is even a 4.0-litre 50th Anniversary 90.


The auctions are set to finish on Wednesday 20 September, giving you plenty of time to view them at the show and get your bid in.

VM Raro.jpg

But Nene Overland’s stand isn’t all about the auction. They’re creating a parts maze where they’ll be selling a wide range of take-off parts, from alloy wheels to Defender bodies, TDCi engines to complete interiors, and winches to Penman trailers.


Make sure you pop in and have a look – there’s bound to be something that takes your fancy!

Plimsoll at the Severn Valley Railway

Mark Saville's Series I, Plimsoll, to drive the Severn Valley Railway on Saturday August 12

You'll undoubtedly know the Series I Land Rover that Mark Saville, LRO assistant editor, drives. Affectionately named Plimsoll (well, its reg number is PSL 193...) it's been Mark's companion for countless adventures in the UK and through Europe. And its latest trick is to drive railways lines.

If you've seen the write-ups in LRO and wished you could see it doing its thing for real, then head along to the Severn Valley Railway on Saturday, August 12.

The plucky little Land Rover will be one of the star attractions at the preserved railway's Steam on the Road event, making the journey from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and back by rail.

He'll be departing Bridgnorth at 09.10, arriving at Kidderminster at 10.42, then commencing the return journey at 11.35, making stops at various stations along the way, and arriving back at Bridgnorth at 17.48.

'I'm looking forward to the trip,' says Mark, 'especially the turntable at the end - I don't think the gearbox would cope with driving the sixteen mile line in reverse!

'I'll be heading into sidings at stations to let 'real' trains by on the return leg of the journey, so pop along - with other attractions at the stations it should be a great day out.'

As well as Plimsoll on rails, the railway will host a Series I Land Rover gathering at Highley and a steam traction engine 'Play Pen' at the station car park at Kidderminster on the Saturday. Oh, and if you're not driving, the Kidderminster Beer Festival is on from noon until 8pm at the Valley Suite.

Electric Land Rovers on the way

Land Rover responds to UK Government clean air announcement with promise of electric models

The UK Government’s announcement that new petrol and diesel vehicles will be sold from 2040 was met with concern in many quarters, but it’s something that car-makers are already working towards, in fact Jaguar Land Rover will have an electric-powered vehicle as an option in every new vehicle line the company produces from 2020.

The company will be the first premium car make offering a full electric vehicle – the Jaguar I-Pace – in 2018 and this will be followed by vehicles in every new product line.

Land Rover has dabbled with electric power before. Fully electric Defenders were tested a few years ago and some are still working hard, and before that there were some full-electric Series Land Rovers used for covert military work. And, of course, hybrid Range Rovers have been around for a while, offering significant improvements over standard engines, if very little actual range under electric-power.

Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover UK Managing Director, said: ‘We welcome the clarity provided on the transition to a future where electric cars are the norm. However, only one per cent of cars driven in the UK today are electric. While we fully recognise that zero emissions are the future, there are no guarantees that we will get the take-up of electric vehicles at the rate and scale government would like without the appropriate financial incentives and charging infrastructure.

‘Therefore new, clean diesel and petrol engines will retain a key role in controlling carbon emissions and restricting air pollution. We’re pleased to see the plan recognise the fundamental difference between older vehicles which contribute to air pollution and newly developed engines (known as Eu6) which are part of the air quality solution.'

He continues to say: ‘Vehicles are just one potential source of urban air pollutants, and we’d be keen to see the plan also tackling air quality across a range of pollution sources including domestic and commercial heating.’

Of course, vehicles can only be as green when they’re driven as the energy they use – if we’re burning fossil fuels to power electric cars, they aren’t really ‘green’, just pushing the pollution elsewhere.

Technology is improving, as is our ability to harness renewable energy – the struggle now is to give the vehicles the ability to continue to work in remote places.

After all, you don’t find many charging stations in the Sahara…

Engine bay in electric Defender

Engine bay in electric Defender

LRO@30: Stage 1 V8 takes on Tongue

As Land Rover Owner rapidly approaches its 30th birthday, we take a look back at out most memorable adventures since 1987. 

Mission: drive as far north as you can without falling into the sea, then drive up a mountain. Oh, and tackle the Discovery 3 launch off-road course. In a Series III Stage 1 V8. Then Deputy Editor Rob McCabe took it on.

Some of the placenames on the far north coast of Scotland have a curious ring to them. Bettyhill – your gran’s best pal from bingo. Farr – you’re not joking. Smoo – wouldn’t want to get my Land Rover covered in that. Tongue – something that becomes inoperable when you’re left speechless.

And just how apt is that last one? Your first glimpse of the Kyle of Tongue and its surroundings, a stand-out jewel even among the hundreds of scenic treasures that grace the Scottish Highlands, is guaranteed to make the jaw drop and the heart sing. It is just stunning.

Everybody who goes there gives pretty much the same verdict. A recent visitor described the view from one of the commanding peaks on the outskirts of Tongue as ‘beyond human comprehension. It was way beyond epic. It was just dazzling’.

The writer was one Jeremy Clarkson Esq, who was explaining to the readers of his Times column that he’d ‘climbed’ Ben Tongue. Well, he had, I suppose – only he left out the bit that said he’d climbed it while sitting behind the wheel of a Land Rover Discovery 3 on an assignment for the BBC’s Top Gear programme.

Jezza’s typically colourful description certainly stirred the imagination – what must that view be like? And how about driving a Land Rover up to the summit of the very mountain that affords the legendary view? What must that have been like?

There was, of course, only one way to find out. As a bonus, the brilliant off-road drive created for the press launch of the Discovery 3 last year is just a few miles along the coast – and we’d been invited to take on the challenge.

I’ll make it immediately clear – we sought and gained permission from the landowner to drive up to the top of Ben Tongue. It’s not a public right of way. But get this – drum up enough interest among your Land Rover-owning mates and you can make a group booking to tackle the Discovery 3 off-road drive. 


The one thing that nagged at us was the prospect of undertaking this expedition in something like the new Discovery, one of the most civilised, mile-eating vehicles ever made. It’s a long old way to Sutherland from East Anglia, but the Disco 3 would do it without breaking sweat. And its formidable, electronically controlled engineering gives it the wherewithal to swallow most off-road challenges without chewing.

On the other hand, my Series III Stage 1 V8 pick-up is most certainly not one of the most civilised, mile-eating vehicles ever made. And its formidable, electronically controlled engineering is notable only by its complete absence. Just the job, then.

This wasn’t an assignment for any Land Rover to undertake single-handed, mind: if you’re venturing off the beaten track, it’s foolhardy to do it without another vehicle on hand to help you out if you get stuck. That job went to the laden-with-recovery-kit Td5 90 of editor-in- chief, John Pearson.

Ever since its service a few weeks ago, the Stage 1 has been running like a Swiss watch. The wash-and-brush-up in the workshop gave the big V8 that extra bit of bounce and it is just great fun to drive. ‘You go in front and set the pace,’ said JP before the off, trying hard not to sound too bored at the prospect of spending endless hours staring at the tailgate of an old Series III chuffing up the A1 at an honourable 48mph.

As it turned out, I soon settled on 60-65mph as the best cruising speed. At this rate, the motor is deep into its comfort zone and it offers the optimum blend of decent progress, bearable cabin noise and only mildly catastrophic fuel consumption.

We wouldn't recommend doing this in a 2.25... 

We wouldn't recommend doing this in a 2.25... 

A dual carriageway is never the happiest hunting ground for an old Land Rover, but the non-motorway bits of the A1 have their fair share of roundabouts to break up the monotony; and the best fun here is to keep it in top as you negotiate your way around and then floor it as you accelerate back on to the straight.

The alacrity with which it shoves its way up to 70mph and beyond in the space of a few seconds always gives a buzz – not to mention a big stretch of empty road in the rear-view mirror. For a little while, anyway.

None the less, it was good to climb up on to the moors as we headed across country into Cumbria on the more scenic A66. Plenty of utility Land Rovers in this part of the world – more often than not with a livestock trailer bringing up station behind.

There’s not much left of the M6 as you join the northbound carriageway at Penrith (small mercies, etc). Before long, we were in Scotland and, just to mark the occasion, we encountered one of those raven-black skies that always gather over motorways and always in the middle of the afternoon.

When it emptied its load it was a belter, the thick, thumping rain bouncing high off the road and thundering deafeningly on the cab roof. My twee little wipers did the business, though and – much to my surprise – hardly any of the deluge found its way into the cab.

Our overnight stop was at the comfortable Blackford Hotel in the eponymous village near Auchterarder, just off the A9 in Perthshire. In truth, the pace-setting Series III had covered ground quicker than we’d expected and we probably could have headed a bit further north than the 379 miles we’d done.

We’re glad we didn’t, though, because JP, photographer John Noble and I were all unanimous in declaring the Sheray Punjab in Auchterarder one of the finest Indian restaurants we’d ever encountered: worth a stopover in its own right. And bearing in mind you’re talking about three blokes who’ve had more curries than they have hot dinners... well, you know what I mean.

Next day, we motored purposefully northwards, dual carriageways giving way to single carriageways, in turn giving way to single track roads with passing places. As the roads got smaller, the scenery got bigger and bigger.

Amid the natural splendour of it all, we found ourselves at the centre of a high-tech spectacle on the road from Lairg to Tongue. We’d caught the odd glimpse of a pair of the RAF’s finest chasing each other at 600mph between the mountains. A few miles further on, one of them locked on to our path, hurtling straight at us from a height of no more than a hundred feet.

For a brief second, I imagined the pilot had been driven to distraction by some inconsiderate Series III-owning neighbour blocking the entrance to his drive and that, laughing manically behind his mirror-finish visor, he was about to exact revenge in a lethal volley of Rapier missiles and cluster bombs.

Instead, he wiggled his wings furiously from side to
side in the way that gung-ho Spitfire pilots do in all the movies and surged past overhead. He was probably somewhere over Edinburgh before the noise hit us; a noise so opposite the silence that usually pervades this part of the Highlands, it’s impossible to describe.

I re-fastened my seatbelt, closed the door again and regained my hearing somewhere after Altnaharra.

We were so engrossed in the fantastic off-road drive on the Eriboll Estate , the time ran away with  us somewhat and we’d left it too late for dinner at the Benloyal Hotel in Tongue, our base for the night. The village has many things going for it, but a strip of late- night eateries isn’t one of them.

The receptionist hinted that a hotel five miles around the headland might still be serving food. He called the owner. ‘You’ve got 15 minutes,’ came the message. ‘They’re expecting you.’

When we got to the Craggan Hotel 14 minutes later, the welcome was warm, the view gorgeous and the food fabulous. In our predicament, we’d have been grateful for microwaved macaroni cheese, never mind the top-quality fare that was served up.

Chatting to the owner in the bar afterwards, JP and John complimented him on the langoustines they’d consumed with such unreserved glee not long before. The boss smiled and nodded towards a chap enjoying a dram: ‘Well, they came from his boat, they were cooked by him (other chap, enjoying a lager) and they were served to you by his mother.’

A very special place, and quite a find.

Speaking of special places, we had a fine view of Ben Tongue on the drive back to the village. We’d be getting a fine view from it the next day. Hopefully.

Mercifully, the sun was out as we made our way on to the track at the foot of BT. To be honest, the fact there is a track makes the ascent a fairly straightforward challenge for a Land Rover, although it’s steep and sinuous in places, and loose stones sometimes put traction at a premium.

It was a case of slowly does it, plotting a route avoiding the bigger boulders: what can be more calming than sticking a Land Rover in low box and sitting back to enjoy the view while it does all the work?

Things could have been a lot different. ‘After it’s been raining, that track turns into a river,’ said the crofter we’d chatted to on the way up.

Best to let the pictures do the talking regarding the view from the summit. I wouldn’t argue with Jeremy Clarkson’s opinion one little bit. I was up there for about an hour and felt deeply privileged the whole time. Pick a direction, and just bask in the visual outcome.

Several miles away across the Kyle, JP and John (long- range picture in the bag, below) could clearly see the tiny speck of the red 109 as I eased it off the summit on my way back down to earth – literally and metaphorically.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 11.05.48.png

LRO Challenge: P38 to Ireland!

Twenty years ago the Range Rover P38 finally saw the Classic into retirement. To celebrate going it alone, Calum takes his 2.5 DSE for a road trip around Ireland to prove its worth. 

My second-generation Range Rover takes a bashing from those who deem themselves ‘clued-up’ about Land Rovers. It’s been called various things over the past 18 months, ranging from ‘The biggest pile of scrap I’ve ever clapped eyes on’ to ‘Mummy, my eyes are burning’. This is wholly unfair – as it’s far more reliable than LRO makes out.

Purchased for the measly sum of £1300 back in October 2015, it’s list of achievements for the magazine has been impressive to say the least. Besides being my daily transport, the plucky golden wonder has undertaken:

  • Off-road Photoshoots
  • Tracking car duties for Practical Classics, Modern Classics and Classic Car Weekly (where the editor promptly broke it, I should add)
  • Emergency transport tasks when other motoring journalists have been without a car
  • Various road trips to Scotland, Portsmouth and Wales
  • A battle with a hovercraft (more on that later…)
  • Van jobs for ClassicCarsForSale’s roadshow
  • Being a removals vehicle for friends moving house
  • At least a million greenlanes. No exaggeration.*

    *Some exaggeration  

Needless to say, these tasks aren’t easy on the old girl. Over the past 18 months the odometer has increased by 35,000 miles, soon to be brushing 200,000. And seeing as this is my own vehicle – and therefore run on a shoestring – those miles went almost service free, bar a home-bodged oil and filter change.

Out of all of these duties and my, frankly rubbish, DIY servicing skills very little in all reality has gone wrong. Some bits have fallen off and sometimes it kicks up a new noise or knock, but thanks to work schedules and sleep depravation, even the servicing for the P38 went horribly wrong. I ended up pouring a bottle of Fanta into the expansion tank rather than water after the coolant hoses were eaten by the fan, dancing on a broken bearing, trying to get home from Scotland – yet the P38 took it all on the chin. It even got me home safely – albeit with Fanta citrus freshness spewing from the heater vents.

And so, after the LRO hyenas have continued to berate my P38 like some sort of unwanted relative, it’s time to claw ground back. My Range Rover broke down before the Portavadie trip last year, so we would have to ramp everything up a notch.

Team P38 will be heading to Ireland – first Donegal then all the way down south – via greenlanes and historical points of interest. And to prove it’s a capable hauler, I’ll be taking my parents and the family dogs. For everything that goes wrong, It’s been agreed that I have to perform a forfeit – dictated to me by Neil, Martin, John and Mark.

May god have mercy on my soul. 

Part 2 arriving soon!

Association of Land Rover Clubs National Rally 2017

With no single ALRC club volunteering to take on the task of hosting their National Rally this year the event was managed centrally by the association, with individual clubs running the various disciplines over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend.

The event returned to its 2014 venue, Stainby Quarry, just off the A1 near Grantham in Lincolnshire.  A compact site which is very popular with local clubs, including the Leicestershire and Rutland LRC who brought in diggers to enhance the site for the 2014 rally.

The action began on the Saturday with the Cross Country Vehicle trial (CCV). On the Sunday the Road Taxed Vehicle trial (RTV) was run in parallel with the Team Recovery event. Then on Bank Holiday Monday we had the excitement of the Comp Safari race, always a spectacle for visitors. 

There was also a Concours D'Elégance competition for shiny vehicles, a bike trial for the kids and also the opportunity for youngsters and inexperienced off-roaders to partake in the next step up into trialing, the non-damaging Tyro.

The 2014 National was dominated by rain, as was the setting up weekend one week before this year’s rally. At a big event, where a couple of hundred people are looking to compete, rain is very unwelcome. It turns trials into an entry number lottery, with sections which were easy to drive by the first competitors becoming impassable later in the day, while other obstacles get eroded and less challenging. So, all eyes were on the long-range weather forecast, and it was looking very promising.

The full story will be in the July issue of LRO out in the shops on June 14th.

Cub-sized Panther

Amazing SAS-spec Land Rover model. Do Little Leafers come any cooler than this half-scale Series II SAS Long-Range Patrol vehicle? 

This petrol-driven half-scale model is based on a Little Leafer. You can buy the plans online ( for about £30, and then you fabricate the whole thing yourself. 

Steve Thomas heavily modified the base design to give the full military model. It is made almost entirely of MDF wood with a 3x2in chassis also of wood, flued and screwed. 

The engine is a Honda 5.5hp petrol (as used in most go-karts), with a centrifugal clutch and chain-driven through a series of shafts and sprockets that give rear-wheel drive. Top speed is about 10mph - a bit like a real Land Rover. There's one rear disc brake, and the wheels are standard 8in trailer wheels. The guns are also mostly MDF, made to Steve's own design. 

We don't know of anyone else who has completed a Little Leafer to this modified standard, but Steve is sure people have made them to the basic design. It took a couple of years to build at a cost of about £1300. It now belongs to Steve's nine-year-old son Harry, who gets lots of attention when he drives it around at shows! 

An Alarming Discovery

Is Martin Domoney's Land Rover Discovery hitting the right notes? 

Despite intending to keep my 110 for the long term, a combination of an offer I couldn’t refuse and an impending house purchase sadly put paid to that plan. It’s off to America when its 25th birthday rolls around. I was sad to let it go, but it gave me an excuse to hunt for a replacement – and who doesn’t love Land Rover shopping, right?

I decided early on that I wanted either a facelift Freelander TD4 or a 300 Tdi Discovery 1. Both would offer plenty of comfort and be perfect for the miles I cover, but the Freelander lacks the load capacity I'd got used to towing with the 110. But then it would be better on fuel...

After driving one of each, I realised the Disco was the way to go – for my needs, anyway. I’ve had two, so I’m aware of their foibles, and knew I could fit all my gear in the boot and have room for passengers.

The search began, and I know it’s generally frowned upon to buy the first one you see, but I really wish I had. It was lovely, but it was sold as soon as I’d got home. With deadline day looming for the handover of the 110, I arranged to see a ‘96 five-door in London after work. The price was right – £1500 – so I brought home the Avalon Blue Discovery you see before you.

With a previous owner of over 14 years and full history, I could overlook the scabby paint and that one of the sills was on its way out; Disco 1s need regular welding anyway. Being a ‘96 auto, the 300Tdi has Electronic Diesel Control (EDC), boosting 111bhp to 120 – it makes a huge difference, too.

As with any new acquisition, I changed the oil and filter, reset the tappets and gave it a once- over. I need to find out why the alarm ECU thinks the tail door is always open and setting the alarm off. So far it’s taken me greenlaning, towed trailers and picked up parts from all over the country, so I’m thrilled with it. I’m going to treat it to a fresh set of coolant hoses and the welding needs doing sooner rather than later, but other than that, all is well. Touch wood! 

New Ingenium Engine Technology for Evoque and Discovery Sport 

Jaguar Land Rover has announced two new Ingenium petrol engines for the Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque. 

While British Leyland, and therefore Land Rover, became something of a joke when it boiled down to advancements in technology – you could still buy mechanicals designed in the 1940’s by 1985 – the same cannot be said of Land Rover today. Packing modern Land Rovers with more technology than the machine used to keep Katie Hopkins looking human requires to operate successfully, the innovative designs of JLR’s new engines has allowed a vast increase in fuel economy and power. Something that would make British Leyland bigwigs turn in their graves.

The 2018 model year Land Rover Discovery Sport and Range Rover Evoque will both receive JLR’s all-new 2.0-litre four-cylinder Ingenium petrol engine, offering either 240 or 290bhp, the first introduction of the new petrol Ingenium family into Land Rover vehicles.

Supporting the company’s long-term commitment to reduce vehicle emissions and give customers more miles per gallon, the new four-cylinder engine will be produced at JLR’s £1 billion factory in Wolverhampton.

Highlighting that these new engines are the most advanced Land Rover has ever developed would once have found journalists and drivers snorting with disbelief, but today it’s a very different game. Land Rover has dominated the luxury SUV market with the Discovery and Evoque, and rather than sticking some fancy bits onto a Rover V8 as per the ‘olden days’, we know this powertrain will be state-of-the-art and deliver everything required to keep Land Rover ahead of the pack.     

What You Really Want To Know 

Churning out 15 per cent more power than the previously-avalilable GTDi, the new 240bhp Ingenium petrol engine enhances refinement with ‘low-friction technologies’ – allowing fuel economy to scrape 39mpg and delivering 109g/km of CO2 emissions.

The 290bhp variant accelerates from 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds and will propel you up to 144mph.

For customers yearning to save money and the planet, the front-wheel-drive eCapability eD4 150bhp diesel Evoque continues to be available, offering 67.3 mpg and a combined cycle figure of 109g/km of CO2. 

Jeremy Hicks, Managing Director, Jaguar Land Rover UK said, ‘I am delighted that we can offer customers even further choice with these additions to our Discovery Sport and Evoque ranges.

‘We are at the cutting edge of clean engine technology, and the introduction of these new engine options, both diesel and petrol, reflects our ongoing investment and commitment to relevant, efficient engines for our vehicles.’

British Leyland were unavailable for comment. 


We have Ignition!

A little bit of modernisation on a Series I? Mark bites the bullet and goes electronic, again!

I finally reached the end of my tether with my Series I. After several months of intermittent rough running and a couple of complete breakdowns, I snapped. Abandoning the quest for originality, I caved in and returned to the relative certainties of electronic ignition.

However, this time around all that’s needed is the eviction of the contact breaker points and condenser in favour of a neat little electronic pick-up. Externally, the only clue that the distributor isn’t quite as Mr Lucas originally intended is that there are now two wires, instead of just one, connected to the coil.

Okay, so I’ve also got the later type of dizzy, with top-entry silicone leads (rather than side- entry copper ones with chunky Bakelite spark plug caps) and I’ve fitted a Flamethrower coil. The ignition changes are fully reversible without much work. I even have a set of Bakelite plug caps stored away, just in case.

So, was this ‘return’ to electronic ignition worth it? Until quite recently, I’d been using an Autoera distributor with electronic pick-up and was perfectly happy with it. But, after covering over 30,000 trouble- free, post-engine rebuild, miles,

I suspected it was past its best. Then began my quest for the smooth-running motor I’d first experienced right after the engine was rebuilt in 2007.

I opted first for a carb rebuild/ refurb. Better, but not cured. Then a full dizzy rebuild and a return to traditional points. Still not quite there. After some major lumpy running and a breakdown, a second carb clean-out helped a lot, but still left a few ‘lumps’.

Finally, I went for electronic ignition in the new distributor. Combined with the silicone leads and a Flamethrower coil already fitted, plus opening the plugs up to 40 thou’ and resetting the timing accordingly, it seems to have done the trick. So far...

There ain't nothing wrong with a little bump and grind...

I couldn’t put the inevitable off any longer. I’d been monitoring the state of the rear crossmember on my 110 for a while and spotted the tell-tale signs of rust taking hold, where mud and water collects beside the jacking point.

I’d put off fixing it because I’m not a great welder, but the imminent MoT meant I had to act. I had everything I needed – metal, paint, cavity wax and some of Gwyn Lewis’s rear mudshields to protect it when done – it was just a case of waiting for a dry day.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my welding wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Okay, it’s never going to win any awards for neatness, but I’d managed to plate the problem areas, and some fairly hard thumps with a hammer didn’t dislodge them – so the welds must be reasonably sound.

It was all child’s play compared to preparing the back end to fit the new mudshields. I couldn’t find my TX50 bit for removing the lower seatbelt anchorage, so I had to buy a new one. Then the top bolts took an age to undo – I just couldn’t get an impact wrench on to them. Oh, and then I had to grind the heads off the screws securing the factory mudshields – and I couldn’t remove the wheels for access because I had the Defender on ramps. But eventually everything was off and, once the parts had been cleaned up, fitting the mud shields and replacing the anchorages was a doodle.

Hopefully it’s bought me a few more years use, but  now I know the rust is there. I keep looking at the galvanised chassis under my Series IIA – that was replaced the same year my 110 was built. Admittedly it’s had an easier life, but there’s no rust on that whatsoever. Maybe I should just re-chassis the 110 too…

Pre-Pro P38 Saved by LRO!

Sometimes you need to question your actions. With one hugely temperamental P38 already tucking into my savings, buying another would surely be the action of a madman.

Simon Lake is glad the CVC has found a good home. How long before Calum is a broken man?

Simon Lake is glad the CVC has found a good home. How long before Calum is a broken man?

So let me introduce you to the new arrival – it’s pre-production, has an ill-tempered 4.0 V8 and employs a manual gearbox. There are a few downsides: it’s been off the road for some time with sensor and electrical problems and has been converted to coil springs at some point in the last 23 years – taking the edge off its handling.

Also, like any other ageing second-generation Range Rover, it has rust issues on the rear wings and underside – not to mention some debris from the Land Rover factory roof that apparently fell on it in 1994.

However, I’ve longed for a ‘CVC’ vehicle (so called after the plate prefix for factory test vehicles) ever since clapping eyes on CVC club founder Julian Lamb’s own example.

After being contacted by Simon Lake, who told me he had two for sale, it was only a matter of time before the heart ruled the bank account. I kept my interest hidden from the LRO team to avoid the taunting, instead sneaking off for Beedon, West Berkshire while they went home.

With the warehouse lights casting a warm glow over the P38’s bodywork, it captured
my affections immediately. The asking price couldn’t be haggled any lower but luckily I had a plan.

I phoned my father, Colin Brown. He was looking for a fresh project, offering to go halves should I find something interesting. He was a tad delirious with flu as my mother answered the phone, but agreed to finance his share after he was awoken from his manflu coma. 

Apparently he woke the next day believing the purchase was a dream. Here’s hoping it doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

If you want me, I’ll be rocking back and forth in the corner of my garage.