What’s the story?
For the full story of how this Ninety came to be we have to go back to the 1990s and to well-known Land Rover modifier Overfinch, which was then successfully cramming Chevrolet motors into Land Rovers. It knew that the small-block Chevy motor was the one to go for, its size and relative lack of weight making it ideal to pep up a Land Rover without weighing it down too much. Although Overfinch was best known for its Range Rover conversions, it also slotted these 350ci (5.7-litre) units into Ninetys and Defenders to produce the 570 HSE; and into the Discovery 1, which was known as the 570 HSi.
Leaping forward a decade or more to the more recent past, we meet Victor Jones. Victor is a petrolhead who loves V8s and Land Rovers in equal measure: having already combined his dual passions in the form of a Ninety fitted with a well-warmed Rover/TVR V8, it’s hardly surprising that when he was offered the chance to buy one of the rare Chevrolet-powered Discos he jumped at it.
Although the Discovery was on the road and perfectly useable, for a perfectionist like Victor its condition left much to be desired. Giving it a full restoration was his first thought but the cost of doing this to the standard he wanted would far outweigh the finished value of the vehicle. That idea was scrapped – but it did make him come up with another. Why not combine the Ninety he already had with the Discovery?
Our favourite bit?
Even a couple of days later, it’s the noise I still can’t get over. It’s fabulous enough from inside, the bass rumble reverberating off walls as you cruise with the window open through town or down country lanes. But standing outside, bidding farewell to Victor as he accelerates briskly away, the visceral experience of hearing that perfectly tuned V8 giving its all, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.
Now that the Ninety is finished, Victor is handing it over to his wife – who will drive it every day. That’s exactly what I would do too, whether I had anywhere to go or not.
And the verdict from LRO writer Jerry Thurston?
After a few miles to acclimatise, it’s time to let the big dog out of its kennel. I cruise down the slip road on to a nice, clear stretch of dual carriageway and mash the throttle. The box shifts up two gears in rapid succession and… back off – we’re already doing 70mph. The case is well and truly proven: it drives beautifully and goes like hell.