I blame my older brother Juerg for my lifelong interest in Land Rovers. This Range Rover Classic used to be his, when it had a Swiss-engineered turbo conversion fitted to the 3.5-litre V8. He nearly sank it on a beach in France when he thought he was about to drive through another shallow pool. Fortunately, he got out to walk it first - and immediately sank up to his chest.
Although he avoided drowning the Classic, its salty bath did nothing for its long-term health. By the time I got it, it needed a replacement chassis and lots of repairs to the steel underbody. I had to cannibalise several other wrecked two-doors to turn this into a good one.
It no longer has the turbo conversion. Instead, in a search for more power and torque I fitted a 4.2-litre camshaft and forged pistons and balanced the engine. I also ditched the cast exhaust manifolds and replaced them with tubular manifolds to improve engine breathing. To improve reliability, I fitted a Mallory breakerless distributor and cut louvres to reduce under-bonnet temperatures. My biggest improvement was fitting an R380 five-speed gearbox.
To make the Classic even better in the snow, I fitted an ARB air-locking rear diff and Quaife ATB (Auto Torque Biasing) diffs in the front axle and transfer box. To accommodate the 31x1.5 R15 BF Goodrich All-Terrain tyres, I lifted the suspension 1 1/2 inches, fitting Old Man Emu springs and double shocks, front and rear. The fronts use mounts from an air-suspension Classic and the rears have the alternative mounts found on early Classics.
Now I mostly use my Classic for holidays, regularity runs and track days - and I love it.
Originally featured in the February 2015 issue of Land Rover Owner International. Download a digital issue, or order a back issue by calling 01858 438884.
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