Not many people are restoring boggo Discos yet; only the G-WACs and very early examples get special attention. That's fair enough if you're thinking about resale value and historic significance. But if you're not bothered about recouping the value, and you just want a practical Land Rover to live with, play with, and restore, how about a Discovery 1 like this 1994 3.9-litre V8 model, on sale for £500? Best if you're handy with a welder, though… which I'm not!
What's so special about them?
Although most examples these days are past their prime, Land Rover got so much right with the Discovery 1. By combining a big, practical interior with proper off-road ability (I took LRO's Disco 1 off-road at Rockingham recently – awesome fun!) and serious durability, Discoverys do a darn good job at embodying everything Land Rover stands for.
Little wonder therefore that the company has become so proud of it (they produced this awesome Discovery video a few days ago)
A Discovery project - how bad can it be?
Sounds like it needs a new head gasket (don't forget it has two – do them both). But its the corrosion that would worry me the most. Apparently the body is on this one is 'essentially sound', but chances are there'll be some welding to do somewhere.
I'm stunned by the painstaking level of cutting and fabricating that goes into so many Discovery-based off-road trucks or restoration. Once you peel off the handsome exterior, chances are you'll be uncover a body shell that appears to be made from hobnobs. Pre-dunked ones, at that. It has to be a labour of love.
Why this one?
It's a good spec, with a leather interior, body-colour alloys, rear folding step, and a few '90s gadgets like volume controls on the instrument binnacle. The owner says it's good for an off-road project, but personally, if I was looking for a Disco to thrash off-road, I'd find one with a lower spec. This one's best staying as a family bus, but I'd tinker with that V8 (like Terry Ellis did with this awesome Range Rover Classic to give the Disco a bit more fire in its belly!
The 3.9-litre Rover V8s are long lived, but only if scrupulously maintained. Experts recommend changing the oil every 3000 miles, i.e. much sooner than Land Rover recommended.