What’s the story?
Ivar Kaneps had driven a good number of Land Rovers abroad, but he kept coming back to the one he liked most. It had to be a Range Rover Classic, which he believes was the ultimate expression of the breed. ‘They got it so right,’ he explains, ‘without any of the curly-wurly bits you find on the later Range Rovers.’
So he set about finding the very best example that he could, ending up in the showroom of Hallamshire Land Rovers in Sheffield. It was a low-mileage example, with one previous owner, and it had been impeccably maintained. The price agreed was good money at the time, but Ivar wanted this car to be just perfect. So he asked Hallamshire to go over it with forensic care and to replace or renew every tiny detail that wasn’t up to scratch. They found more than £3000 of work to do, and did it. That was a lot of money back in 1999.
This was no ordinary Range Rover – it was an Autobiography, one of a limited edition built in 1994 with the 4.2-litre engine from the LSE models and a collection of other special features. Land Rover used them to test its new Autobiography scheme, which had been introduced at the 1993 Motor Show. Individual bespoke vehicles were already available, but the Autobiography 4.2 tested the firm’s ability to do small-run limited editions.
Our favourite bit?
Ivar was delighted with his purchase. Well, he was until he read that I thought Overfinch made the best versions of the Range Rover Classic. So he contacted the company to see what they could do to improve the one he’d bought. In June 2002, they added steering improvements, second-generation air suspension (with thicker anti-roll bars) and high-power halogen headlights. Pleased? Yes – enough to consider going for more improvements a year later.
So in 2003, the Range Rover was back at Overfinch for some work on the interior: extra woodwork, red instrument needles, padded arm rests for the front doors, chrome door handles, polished aluminium door treads, extra sound-proofing plus a wood-and-leather steering wheel. The outside gained colour-coded door handles and – serious stuff, this – a new engine was fitted.
Ivar had agonised about that. He’d initially wanted one of Overfinch’s 5.7-litre GM V8s, but then he’d worried that the vehicle would no longer be a wholly Land Rover product. So he cancelled his order and decided to have an Overfinch 460i conversion, an uprated version of the factory’s 4.6-litre V8.
And the verdict from LRO’s James Taylor?
The acceleration is fabulous, as I discovered on a quiet stretch of the A65. ‘Boot it!’ said Ivar; so I did. Zero to 60mph in just under nine seconds may not be fast by modern standards, but smooth, linear acceleration like this in a 20-year-old Range Rover Classic is something very special indeed.
• Engine: 4.2-litre V8, 238bhp @ 4900rpm, 280lb ft @ 3100rpm
• Exterior: TWR bodykit and British Racing Green paint. Star-spoke alloy wheels. Range Rover lettering in gold, front and rear. ‘Autobiography’ script decal on tailgate. ‘4.2’ decals in gold on each front wing and the tailgate
• Other: Special Vehicles contact plate under the bonnet