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Nothing comes remotely close to feeling as special as a Range Rover Classic : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
Alisdair promised he’d work on his Range Rover. So, how has he got on?

We all know ‘that noise’. We pass every journey listening for it. We never want to hear it, but are constantly alert for it, regardless. ‘That noise’ is a sound from the engine, or the gearbox – anywhere, actually – that means it is game over. ‘That noise’ tells us mechanically, our car is ruined.

When my Classic made ‘that noise’, my heart sank. I thought it was terminal; it sounded it. Martin and I had finished the repair – replacing a blowing exhaust manifold gasket – and I’d just started the car. But rather than the smooth sound of a now fixed 3.9-litre V8, I heard a rhythmical tapping. Sharp. Metallic. Going throughout the car. My brain worked the problem; too loud for tappets, it sounded bigger, deeper. Big ends? Piston slap? Crank? Definitely serious. Definitely ‘that noise’.

What was Martin really up to under the bonnet?

Panic-stricken, I pulled my head out of the driver’s window, and peered into the engine bay. Only to see Martin, ½-inch ratchet in hand, repeatedly tapping the handle against the radiator top, with Becky, my other half, behind him, struggling not to laugh. I won’t tell you what I thought, but I still can’t believe he ‘got’ me with such an old trick. So much for Land Rover pals…

I’ve been busy on the Classic in 2023. First off was to give it a really good clean. Fellow LRM scribe Gary will rib me savagely, but I gave it everything, right down to removing wheels to wash and polish the insides. After three laps around the car with different products and procedures (no toothbrushes, Gary), the Biarritz Blue paint looks a rich, deep gloss, and the car presents as the car I’ve always wanted.

Not the first time this has happened. Such is life, running a Range Rover Classic in 2023

I can’t always be bothered to go to town, but afterwards the difference is incredible. So much so, pal Ada Fisher sent a shot recently he’d seen online, convinced it was my car. I admit it was almost identical, and I had to look closely, but it was actually a shot from the 1995 Range Rover brochure.

Ahead of the MoT, the nearside front brake pipes were next. An advisory on last year’s test, they were okay, but I like things right. A few days doing an hour here and there, I steadily worked through the job myself. Using the originals as a pattern, I copied them off the car in cupronickel pipe, flared the ends then eased the replacements into position. Bleeding went to plan, once I’d managed to get the air to sneeze dramatically from a top nipple on the nearside caliper, that is, and there’s a lovely firm pedal, characteristic to the soft dash models.

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Air con regas was a relatively easy fix

The air conditioning was working, but barely. Happy there was at least some cooling effect, I got the system flushed and refilled with R134a refrigerant by Ian Baughan ( Filled with 900g of refrigerant rather than the 300 it had, the cabin is cool again, and another job was ticked off the list.

An oil service went rather pear-shaped, when, having removed the sump drain plug and noticing what I thought to be my aim into the drain pan being off, I moved the pan to a better position. Only to see the pan’s bottom gape like a tramp’s hat, and hot oil flow out before my helplessly blinking eyes. I think I’ve got the stain up, but six and a half litres of oil goes a long way on a driveway, let me tell you.

For some LRM teamwork, Martin came to mine to do the exhaust manifold gasket that was just blowing. A straightforward job that can turn nasty quickly, we both had fun spannering, chatting all things Land Rover, and, of course, drinking tea. That is, when he wasn’t playing workshop tricks on me. I insisted he had a drive, as sharing the enjoyment is what it is all about, isn’t it?

Tailgate, view, brew. Perfect

I’ve got through a fair bit of work, thinking about it, but spread out it is surprising what you can fit in. The car is all the better for it, which was the plan. We’ve been using it plenty as a family on everything from school runs, Cub camp, and multiple trips around the Peak District. Miles from home in the car, in great scenery with a tailgate picnic on the go, is a very happy place indeed.

Seeing the children’s reaction to experiencing the car again makes you recall when the spark first lit in yourself. It also affirms just what a special car a well-sorted Range Rover Classic is, and has us itching to do a really long drive, like up to Scotland again.

That can wait, though. First, I’ve got to find some tools Martin tells me he left in my garage. Do you know, I can’t recall him using a 1-7/16-inch socket, nor metric adjustable, but apparently they’re around here somewhere… One thing is for certain – he won’t make a fool of me again.


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