What's the story?
Ian Linford, an RAC patrolman and full-on Land Rover nut, spends his free time ragging the back axle out a specially built, rally prepared Freelander 1. Mark joins him and his regular co-driver, Demelza Scholes for a no holds barred shake-down test run.
Ian’s been deeply involved in the Land Rover trials and competition scene for more than three decades, beginning with comp safaris with the Essex LRC in 1989. At the end of 2013, he spectated at the Rally GB and was instantly hooked. A month later he had bought this £350 Freelander and was well on the way to making it into a serious contender in the British Cross Country Championships.
Ian reckons he’s spent about £4000 converting the car for action. The biggest item is probably the awesome £1200 fully-fitted Protection and Performance roll cage. He thinks a full season’s competition will cost around £10,000; a lot of money but compared to many teams’ budgets, it’s really rather modest.
Modest is not how you would describe Ian’s driving style, he doesn’t hold back. It seems the best way to make a 1.8 petrol Freelander shift itself is to keep your right foot planted firmly in the bulkhead. Darting between marker cones and looping round gravel corners in true rally style looks effortless. Until Mark gets behind the wheel, that is. Oh dear.
Our favourite bit?
This is primarily a bog-standard Freelander 1, three-door, 1.8 petrol yet in Ian’s hands, it flies. The roll-cage does look stunning.
And the verdict from LRO writer Mark Saville?
The LRO Freelander 1 is a sad thing. I’ve blown it’s engine up twice, without trying particularly hard. It vibrates and wobbles in a very unpleasant way. Stepping out of it is always a relief; arriving under your own steam in it is always a surprise; I’d never buy one, or so I thought until spending a few hours with Ian and his F1. Now I get it, I really do. Buying a Freelander 1 for a few hundred pounds and then preparing for stage rally fun is very tempting. Fortunately, I don’t have the cash otherwise I might spoil Ian and Demnelza’s weekends by joining them on the track.
Model: 1999 Three-door, hard top
Engine: 1796cc 4cl petrol
Power: 118bhp @ 5000rpm
Torque: 121lb ft @ 2750rpm
Suspension: Monroe Adventurer shocks
Brakes: Cross-drilled, grooved front discs, EBC Green Stuff pads all round
Tyres: Yokohama Geolander A?T 195/80R16