Most men in suits aren’t Land Rover enthusiasts. It’s a shame but it’s true. If – like us at LRO – you live and work among Solihull devotees, it’s easy to forget that most other car enthusiasts’ regular fix of petrol-head banter is 1) not Land Rover-centric, 2) often based on misconceptions.
I stopped for a coffee at the weekend and overheard some middle-aged, suited blokes at the table next to mine, swapping ill-informed motoring opinions. Clearly, they weren’t Land Rover enthusiasts, but their conversation steered towards the Green Oval a few times.
‘Trouble is,’ attempted one of the more idiotic ones, ‘none of the 4x4s on the market are really drivers’ cars.’ Uh, really? Drive a V8 Range Rover Sport (petrol or diesel) and prepare to eat your words.
‘Of course, you only have to drive one of the first Discoverys to see how far 4x4s have come since they came out,’ said one. Cue much sneering and scoffing into their frappuccinos. He was right, of course, but there’s something unlikeable about those who disdain what was an extremely successful piece of British engineering simply because it’s been superseded by slicker, more modern versions. (Besides, I happen to like LRO’s 300Tdi Discovery 1.) Ride refinement shouldn’t be the only criteria by which to judge engineering quality, unless your torso has the structural integrity of a blancmange in a hurricane - in which case, fair play. Otherwise, toughen up and be British for Pete’s sake.
‘A friend of mine used to have a Series I,’ said the third with scarcely-concealed contempt. ‘Fun old thing I suppose, but bloody hell it was a handful.’ The scorn continued. He hadn’t remembered an interesting, well-engineered, rare and functional classic, but an outdated, uncomfortable dinosaur that no longer deserved its place in the world.
The truth is, although enthusiasts respect the qualities of ruggedness, chunkiness and versatility which used to lie at the heart of the Land Rover brand (may I present Exhibit A, Camel Trophy awesomeness all over…) to some people these are just quaint distractions from the qualities they really want in a car; qualities which are best served, in the minds of these particular caffeine-stoked menfolk, by German manufacturers.