10 November 2022
In today’s strange world there no longer seems to be any bargain Land Rovers. The upside to this is that the one you already have sitting on your driveway might be worth a surprising amount, so it could be time to trade up and finally buy the Land Rover you have always promised yourself.
Our panel of experts
• Steve Miller, LRM Advertising and Events Manager
• Ed Evans, LRM Technical Editor
• Tom Barnard, LRM Columnist
• Andrew Harrison-Smith, Nene Overland
• Russ Knight, Gloucester Land Rover
To help you on your journey, we’ve asked a panel of experts for their advice on the best buys, looking at what you’ll have to pay, how to choose the sweet spot in the range and the potential pitfalls to beware of.
Whichever you choose, look after your Land Rover and it won’t just be fun to own – it could even be an investment.
Here’s our definitive guide to buying a Land Rover in 2022.
Price range: £1000 – £6500
Freelanders are the cheapest way into Land Rover ownership, but you need to buy carefully and find a cherished car
The cheapest way into Land Rover ownership is still a Freelander 1, simply because it was such a sales success and there are plenty around. There are lots of scruffy, well-used hippos that can be picked up for around £1200 and will still have plenty of life left in them. The three-doors have removable roofs which makes for a fun summer car while keeping you mobile through winter. The five-door models are a practical family car or workhorse.
Early models are becoming collectable too, with enthusiasts realising that this was a landmark car for Land Rover and starting to squirrel away anything which might be interesting in a few years, such as launch year models or bold-coloured special editions.
But there are issues you’ll need to be aware of before taking the plunge. Best-known is the notorious head gasket issue on the 1.8-litre petrol cars, which has seen the premature end of thousands of Freelanders. Most of the survivors will have had it fixed by now, but check that it’s been done properly.
The early diesels are pretty bombproof but seem crude next to the BMW-engined Td4 used in the later, facelift cars. The automatic gearbox works well and avoids potential expensive clutch replacements.
The next big issue surrounds the Intermediate Reduction Drive – basically a transfer case – which feeds power to the back wheels. It needs careful servicing, as even something as simple as mismatched tyres can cause it to fail. Most owners will avoid the replacement cost by simply removing the propshaft to create a 2WD Freelander, which is actually more economical, but not much use when it snows. You’ll want to check that the propshaft is still there when under the car, and listen for any knocks and clunks while driving.
Steve Miller says: “Try to buy from an enthusiast who has looked after it. Simple to work on for the home mechanic, but transmissions will be tired and are expensive to put right, especially at the budget end of the market.”
Best Buy: 2.0 Td4 HSE five-door auto
Price range: £2500 – £25,000
Second generation Freelanders are far more luxurious and better to drive, but can still cope well off-road if necessary
Just like the classic Range Rover, the Freelander gradually moved upmarket during its life and the second generation is a far posher car than the original, with a higher quality interior and more technology.
It’s much better to drive too, and generally has fewer big issues than its predecessor. But if the previous owner has skimped on the servicing it could be storing up a heap of expensive problems.
The interior was designed to look like a mini Range Rover
Like the Freelander 1, any mismatched tyres can confuse the 4WD system and lead to big failures. The first sign will be flickering warning lights, but by then the damage might be done.
Check the service history carefully – you want to be looking for evidence of regular oil changes for the engine and Haldex clutch system which feeds power to the back wheels when it detects slip.
The 2.2-litre Td4 engine is by far the most popular and the automatic gearbox suits the car well. Manuals are fine, but any noise from the clutch is likely to mean you’ll need a dual-mass flywheel too.
The two-wheel drive eD4 was controversial, but is much easier to maintain now
There was a two-wheel drive model called the eD4 which was controversial at the time but is actually a decent choice if you don’t need the ultimate off-road ability, as it’s so much easier to maintain. The petrol V6 is fast, fun and refined, but it’s rare. The fuel and road tax bills make it a difficult sell on the used market.
Steve Miller says: “There are some great bargains to be had and the SE or HSE models are where my money would be at – and a Freelander 2 is ergonomically far better than a 1, in my opinion.”
Best Buy: 2.2 Td4 GS five-door auto
Range Rover P38
Price range: £2,000 – £25,000
It might be at least two decades old, but the Mk2 Range Rover still looks majestic
Enthusiasts have woken up to the P38 and values are rising fast. Although a bad one could still be a potential money pit, there are specialists who will now happily take care of them and can fix most of the common problems.
As a result, you’ll struggle to get a working, roadworthy P38 Range Rover for less than £2000 these days and good cars are now £5000+.
The most interesting models are the special editions, with some – such as the Holland & Holland – being especially sought-after and potentially worth more than £30,000. But an unmolested early car or the last-of-the-line will also tweak the interest of collectors, especially if it has been kept in original condition. Many owners have tried to make older cars look more up-to-date with wheels, grilles and lights from later models and this could actually devalue it. Many are now being demodified and returned to original specification.
For everyday use the diesel makes sense from a cost perspective, but it is miserably slow. The 4.0-litre V8 is a good compromise and more reliable than the 4.6.
The air suspension has a hideous reputation and many have been converted to steel springs – this doesn’t have any effect of values. Bear in mind that there are repair kits which make the air cheaper to fix, so don’t give up on it.
The good news is that rust is not usually a big issue on P38s, but check the interior for wear and that all the electronics are working properly.
Ed Evans says: “Conservative styling still looks dated, but this once maligned vehicle was an icon of evolving technology in its day. Only buy a good one, properly serviced and fully maintained. Anything less will bring poverty and headaches.”
Best Buy: 4.0 V8 Vogue
Range Rover L322
Price Range: £2500 – £35,000
As with any Range Rover, the L322 can go anywhere in comfort
The earliest L322s are now two decades old which means some are in the limbo between scrap and classic. But the L322 is widely considered to be the finest Range Rover ever built, thanks to the millions poured into the project over its life by both BMW and Ford.
High-profile fans include the Queen and Jeremy Clarkson – both have very similar spec models (green with beige leather) and refuse to swap them for newer Range Rovers.
There’s a huge variety of colours, trims and tech available
The earliest L322s are powered by either a BMW straight-six turbodiesel or a 4.4-litre V8 petrol. The former is on the cusp of acceptable performance but will return around 10mpg more than the V8. You’ll need to do the sums to figure out which works for you.
The early cars can suffer from gearbox issues and aren’t immune from rust around the rear doors and sills. The later 3.6-litre V8 turbodiesels are fantastic to drive and we’ve seen them top 35mpg on a run. But you’ll need to budget for new turbos at around 100,000 miles and it’s a £5000 job. The smart buyer will know that a car with 110,000 miles and new blowers is a much better buy than a 90,000 mile car with the originals.
L322 fans include the late Queen Elizabeth II, who refused to upgrade to a newer model
The supercharged petrol V8s are hilariously fast and tend to be packed with expensive options as they were bought by people who didn’t care about the running costs of a car that does 15mpg on a good day. They’re now in surprisingly high demand from drivers who live in London and need a car which is exempt from ULEZ charges.
The most sought-after of all is the 4.4-litre V8 diesel, which offers effortless performance, decent economy and reliability.
Tom Barnard says: “A last-of-the-line Westminster is a hugely desirable car, but it won’t be long before the early V8 petrols start to look collectable. Any pre-2006 car will be much cheaper to tax as well, but search for one which has been treated gently by a well-heeled owner who hasn’t skimped on maintenance.”
Best Buy: 4.4 TD V8 Westminster
Discovery 1 & 2
Price range: £1500 – £10,000
A Discovery has proper off-road ability yet is a hugely practical family car too
It seems crazy that a car which shares all of its big components with a Defender is generally worth about a quarter of the value – especially as it is more comfortable and practical too.
The early three-door models are already highly-prized, having been scooped up by collectors who spotted what happened to early Range Rover values. It’s the rare example of a Discovery which is financially worth restoring.
Any early car is likely to need work by now. Rust is the big Discovery killer – the body and chassis both rot and a few prods of the MoT tester’s screwdriver are all that’s needed to write off a clean-looking Disco. It means that many are scrapped, with the engine and gearbox usually going to upgrade a Defender or Series.
D1 interior was modern for its time
The Discovery II kept all of the first generation’s practicality and even looked the same, but underneath it had massive changes which made it much better to drive and more luxurious. They’re not quite as good for towing or off-road, but this is balanced by much better driving dynamics thanks to the Td5 engine and ACE suspension system.
There are plenty of tatty workhorses around, but buyers will happily pay close to five figures for a seven-seat, top-of-the-range ES in a nice colour to use as a family bus and workhorse which is seen as less complex than the later Discovery models.
The diesels are the best for everyday use, but the V8 is no longer shunned by buyers and values are level with the Td5.
Watch out for chassis corrosion though, even on a Discovery which looks shiny and bright – make sure you get right underneath any prospective purchase. Any decent service regime should have included regular anti-corrosion treatments.
Ed Evans says: “Mechanically simple, DIY maintainable and immensely practical vehicles which are fun to be in. Check D1 floors and sills carefully. D2 chassis is notorious for rust. Check Td5 for fuel ingress into the sump which could be expensive.”
Best Buy: Discovery 2 Td5 GS auto
Price range: £3000 – £30,000
D4: Luxury, performance and off-road ability
It may have looked shockingly new when it was launched in 2004, but that bold leap in design means that the Discovery 3 still looks fresh and modern today in a world filled with bland SUVs. That boxy shape also means it is one of the most useful cars you will ever own.
It can switch effortlessly between being a seven-seat people carrier to a van and then instantly become a luxury cruiser. Air suspension means it is one of the best tow vehicles ever made and copes with extreme off-road situations easily.
The D4 brought more of the same, but with more luxury, performance, and tech. The later cars are seriously sought-after by buyers who simply don’t like the idea of the Discovery 5 and they are willing to pay top money to keep up their D4 habit.
You’ll never be short of buttons in a D3 or D4. Check they all work though
But there are plenty of potential traps to snare the unwary Discovery buyer. The most obvious is the air suspension, although specialists are now offering ways to fix the common issues without breaking the bank. This generation of Discovery is a heavy car, which means that consumables such as tyres and brakes can wear quickly too.
Post-2006 cars are going to be pricey to tax – in the worst case £580 per year – but the biggest potential disaster is the 3.0-litre V6 destroying itself with a snapped crankshaft. Regular oil changes outside of the service schedule are the way to avoid this – a flush and fresh oil every 5000 miles should prevent issues.
Andrew Harrison-Smith, Nene Overland says: “Discovery 4 values seem to defy gravity, simply because some owners just don’t like the softer shape and smaller engine in the D5. A last-of-the-line D4 with low miles and a high specification is like gold dust.”
Best buy: Discovery 4 SDV6 HSE
Range Rover Sport
Price range: £2800 – £28,000
Potential repair bills keep values of Sports low, but they are fun and capable
The L320 Range Rover Sport doesn’t have quite the same following as the other Land Rovers in this feature, which means it can be something of a bargain. This wasn’t the case at its launch in 2005, when the Sport was seen as hugely desirable and had waiting lists. But these days it doesn’t have the cachet of a full Range Rover or the practicality of a Discovery, which means it is less in demand.
As a result, the values are between £2500 and £5000 less than an equivalent Discovery 4, despite them being mechanically almost identical.
Interiors are almost as luxurious as the full-fat Range Rover’s
That relative affordability can mean owners are less inclined to spend large sums on servicing and repairs, meaning many L320s are storing up expensive problems for later. Cambelts on the V6 will need changing at ten years or 105,000 miles – if the engine hasn’t already been replaced after a crankshaft failure. The V8 diesels are huge fun, but the turbos tend to fail at around 100,000 miles. Any repairs that require the body to be removed from the chassis will add 12 hours’ labour to the bill.
These sorts of bank-draining horrors inevitably put buyers off, but the key to keeping costs under control is to find a well-maintained example and then keep on top of the servicing. Paying a little extra for a car with a stack of receipts will save you more in the long run.
Russ Knight, Gloucester Land Rover says: “These are bloody good value for money now. Look for one that has been looked after well and keep on top of the servicing and you should be able to avoid disastrous costs.”
Best buy: 3.6 TDV8 HSE
Series Land Rovers
Price range: £4500 – £50,000
Series models are great fun to drive, but they’re hard work compared with a modern car
The Series I has been considered a bona-fide classic for almost half a century now, and the values are such that it is financially worth dragging a rusty wreck out of the undergrowth to restore one, especially if it is early or unusual.
Don’t think it’s going to be easy, though; it might look simple but a constant evolution means that the correct parts might be difficult to find and most will have been ‘creatively’ repaired over the years. It’s worth bearing in mind that a Series I could be over 70-years old now so is quite a hardcore driving experience – it’s not something you’ll necessarily enjoy driving every day.
The Series IIA is particularly desirable as a Station Wagon or soft top
The Series II and IIA are a little more civilised but the heavy controls and lack of comfort will still come as a shock to anyone used to the comfort of a modern car. There is more choice and values are lower, but the days of bargain Series IIs are over. The long-wheelbase 109s are seen as less desirable – unless they are station wagons – and the diesels are less popular than the petrol. Conversions to later turbodiesel engines are sought-after but will upset the nerds and potentially harm values of an original car, but make perfect sense for anyone wanting to use their IIA daily.
After years of being shunned, the Series III is now seen as a desirable classic
The Series III used to be the cheapest way into Land Rover ownership, but those days are gone and owners will sink thousands into the restoration of interesting models, especially station wagons, V8s, soft tops and ex-military Lightweights.
With all Series versions, rust is the killer. Check the chassis and bulkhead for rot or signs of bodging.
Ed Evans says: “Some Series I body and mechanical parts are difficult to find. Series II and III restoration and maintenance is as simple as it gets. Try to buy one in original, unmodified condition. Good back-up experience in the owners’ clubs.”
Best buy: Series IIA 2.25 88-inch
Price range: £5000 – £130,000
The iconic Defender
If you’ve started to research a Defender purchase already, you’ll know that the biggest problem will be finding one at a reasonable price. The values of Land Rover’s most iconic product have risen faster than blue chip stocks, so the most desirable last-of-the-line specials can now be worth double the cost of when they were new.
These spotless investment-grade examples are pulling up the prices of all other Defenders too. And that means any buyer will need to be careful of chancers who are asking crazy prices for vehicles which have been quickly tarted-up, questionably modified or have dubious histories.
The cheapest way to own a Defender is still a Tdi, but even the least-desirable pick-up which has spent its life carrying sheep will still fetch £5000. This could form the good basis of a renovation project, essentially being a blank canvas to build your perfect truck.
The Td5s and later Puma models are easier to use every day, but finding a totally standard, well cared for example will be tricky. Don’t be too concerned about big mileages – condition and a maintenance record is more important.
The new Defender is a different proposition, and it will be many years before they’ll be available at £5000, but there is still some overlap in prices between the oldest new models and the newest old models.
The waiting list for brand new cars has pushed up prices of lightly-used L663s and we saw a 007 special edition V8 being advertised at an optimistic £249,950. The cheapest we could see was £60,000, meaning owners are selling for a substantial profit even after two years of use.
If the prices don’t put you off and you really want a car now, make sure you don’t rush into a purchase and buy a spec you really love. You’ll soon forget the price and not worry about the investment value if you have a car which makes you smile.
Steve Miller says: “Good, low-mileage Td5s – in particular CSW XS models – are in huge demand. Be prepared to dig deep and look after what will be a great future investment.”
Best buy: 90 Td5 CSW
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