There are some great oxymorons out there; fun run, sporting personality and Microsoft Works, to name but a few. I’d like to add ‘working Range Rover’ to the list.
While I’d never claim to regret taking back ownership of my old P38, it’s pushed me straight back into Jeremy Deller mode - as I often contemplate crushing it into a cube. Dancing a jig as I do. Just like any old car to capture your heart, and ultimately your finances, these thoughts of mechanical annihilation quickly pass before the red mist dissolves and tempers calm.
However, after only a few weeks of re-acquaintance the P38 has pushed me further towards re-enacting the Lincoln Continental scene from Goldfinger than it ever did under my previous tenure.
In order to highlight the distances covered by loyal Landy aficionados across the land to attend the LRO Peterborough show, I had planned to prove that my cantankerous second-generation Range Rover could do 500-miles, on one tank of diesel, breakdown free from Portavadie to Peterborough. I didn’t even make it out the car park.
Upon firing the engine into life on the challenge day, the P38's fan belt was swiftly eaten by the idler, before taking out the tensioner, damaging the radiator and slicing a chunk out of the alternator’s casing. It took out my working air conditioning too, which on a P38 is rarer than an honest politician. Swear words could be heard echoing thorugh LRO headquarters like a psychotic church bell.
This left me to complete the task in a gutsy Freelander I, which did everything I asked of it with ease. But there was a shadow of doom cast over my Highland fling, as that foreboding P38 was waiting for me when I returned.
Rolling back into Peterborough the evening before the show opened its gates, having completed my challenge, the Range Rover was already on the magazine’s stand as a static display vehicle.
Martin Domoney had lumbered its bulk towards the show ground while I was away, messaging to inform me that the belt had now completely gone. Without the fan belt spinning, the power steering pump was useless and the water pump wasn’t performing. With such a hefty shell to pull, the cooling system had to be running at all times to prevent damage to the 2.5-litre engine. This meant I had some work to do in order to remove the P38 from the showground come Sunday afternoon.
Unable to get anywhere near my Range Rover on the Saturday, I started work as noon approached the next day. Like some sort of demented Western, I stood at one end of the stand clasping a new fan belt with the P38 ogling back at me, the battle to get the damned thing running undoubtedly to cause loss of blood.
Except, it wasn’t mine.
Undertaking a job I had never attempted before, I was incredibly lucky to have Chris Jordan attend the show that day - being a fellow P38 owner, he knew exactly what the job entailed.
As the show’s events entertained around us, after Chris had bribed his wife with money to enjoy herself, Chris set about showing me what to do. Then, after I messed it up royally, he took control. Passers by looked on in curiosity as the fan shroud, fan and various other bits landed in the grass while Chris ploughed on and saved the day. It clearly pays to have friends who know what they are doing. The P38 eventually started up and sulked away into the evening, ready for further repair work.
The finishing oxymoron here? Silent scream. As that was my reaction to discovering that I had a new oil leak from the front diff, too...