What's the story?
Early Range Rovers don’t come much more collectable than NXC 231H, first of the press-launch vehicles built for the model’s introduction in Cornwall in June 1970. So it’s brilliant to discover that this one hasn’t gone to an anonymous collector who’ll stash it away from the public gaze for the next 20 years and will then turn it into his pension fund. It’s gone to a proper Range Rover enthusiast – and that enthusiast did most of the restoration himself.
Andrew wasn’t frightened by the prospect of restoring an old Range Rover. In fact, he relished the opportunity. And, in 1999, he got his chance. He spotted an ad for an ‘Original Range Rover’. It was NXC 231H, then still in barn-find condition.
Andrew Honychurch was lucky enough to get his hands on some of the last of the factory-original stuff he knew he’d need. The good news was that ‘231’ was pretty complete, if a bit scruffy and not that structurally sound. Restoration began in earnest in 2004 with a complete stripdown. The back of the chassis was rotten and needed a lot of work and the original bodyshell was too rotten to repair properly so it had to be replaced with a new-old-stock early body shell.
Our favourite bit?
Although the whine from the transfer box gears in the LT95 transmission came as standard on early Range Rovers, all those I’ve driven have had a lot of driveline shunt. This one feels free of such problems (or maybe it’s just that I’m finally learning to change gear properly…) and the all-round disc brakes are good enough for me to forget this is a 44-year-old car. Only in fast corners does body roll limit your enthusiasm.
And the verdict from LRO writer James Taylor?
Andrew can justifiably feel proud of what he’s achieved with ‘231’. ‘I suppose I’m giving back a bit of all the pleasure that Range Rovers have given me over the years.’ Too right you are, Andrew.
Model: 1970 Range Rover Classic ‘Velar’ two-door (pre-production press car) l Engine: 3.5-litre carburettor-fed V8 petrol l Power: 135bhp @ 4750rpm l Torque: 185lb ft @ 2500rpm