15 August 2022
Alisdair Cusick meets Will Meacham, a young collector with an enviable taste in Range Rovers
For many fans of the Green Oval, owning one vehicle just isn’t enough. All too quickly a second one appears, and for some owners, more again. Without knowing and seemingly overnight, you become a collector. That state needs experience to maintain, and is usually achieved in a later stage in life. But not in every case.
Meet Will Meacham, an enthusiast who bucks that trend. Despite his slightly more tender years, he has built up a rather enviable collection of Range Rovers despite only being interested in the marque for the last five years.
Will's Vogue SE, 30th Anniversary and Vogue trio
It all began with his first Range Rover, a 1987 four-door 3.5 V8 he found in Marbella, Spain. Spotted on a Spanish website and squirrelled away by a local who presumably bought it from an expat, Will got it running and had it transported back to the UK. “I didn’t really know anything, but liked the look of it, that was the first one I brought back to life,” he says.
With no previous experience of the marque, he nonetheless always liked the Range Rover’s ability to do so many different things. “There’s nothing that can do what a Range Rover does, in terms of style, comfort and effortlessness,” he adds. That first experience of buying, tinkering and then driving his first Classic, ignited an interest that continues to captivate Will, growing to a collection of over ten Rovers, plus a single, late Discovery 2.
Will's a fan of the opulence of the Range Rover interior. Here, the 2001 Vogue
“I started off just wanting a Classic – a 3.5 – then I wanted to see what a 3.9 was like, then an early generation P38, then a later one and so on,” he says. The more variants he tried, in turn honed his taste and knowledge, so the number of vehicles began to swell. “Desiring different specs was how it really got going,” says Will. “Along the way I’ve got rid of probably four or five to find my favourite ones I want to keep, long term.
So how did someone besotted by Classics end up with so many P38As? “My first P38 encounter was through a Classic purchase,” recalls Will. While viewing the Classic purchase, he was offered a P38 also in the seller’s family for £750, laid up in a barn. “But it had an engine tick, so it had to have the engine rebuilt,” adds Will. Tappet issues meant corrective work is still in progress, but he has retained the original engine. New parts include an upgraded cam and cooler thermostat, as later ones run too hot. A 1994 4.6 HSE model, it is an early car in P38 production, and registered to Land Rover when new.
30th Anniversary from 2000 is one of just 100 models produced
With P38A interest piqued by that early model, he then decided he wanted to bracket that with a really nice final edition one, so sourced a 2002 Vogue SE. Beyond that, a 30th Anniversary P38A followed, widening his variants of the car, taking in later Thor engines, and unique interior trims in each. They may appear to be the same fiddle, but they each play a slightly different tune and therein lies the appeal of collecting for Will.
Wimbledon Green paintwork originated in the Autobiography palette
The list of cars all shows a keen eye for good taste; classic colours, relatively high spec and sensible mileages. How does he go about selecting what to add to the collection? I ask. “I try to find something unique with all of them,” answers Will. Despite enjoying the process of recommissioning or returning the vehicle to standard form – spanner work being trusted to nearby specialists – the common factor in all his purchases is the rust-free nature of the base car. “Unless you want to end up spending £40-50k on a restoration, don’t buy one that is terminally rusty," he advises. Buying as rust-free one as you can find, with the best spec you can, and with the best history, are his three golden rules on potential purchases. That, and seeing the car in person, he emphasises, from bitter experience. Corrosion is the big issue of restoring Classics, something the P38A is relatively untroubled by, but they present their own issues, typically suspension or alarm-related work, in Will’s experience. “You really need to drive a P38A, because there’s quite a difference between a bad one and a really good one,” he says. “I love the opulence of a Range Rover, and the hand-finished specs of P38As make them desirable,” he adds. He also makes the point if you have any engine issues, then it is best to simply refurb the whole engine, rather than fit one or two elements, then you know it is good to go again.
Green Leather, Burr Maple wood, plus picnic tables and TVs in the rear
Through his curator’s eye, he says one car leaps out as a favourite – his 1990 3.9 Vogue, with rare sunroof and air con. “Below 60k miles, Ardennes Green, auto, ABS and full service history, importantly”, he says. “The beauty of that car is that I could do it up over four years – and use it, without it being off the road,” adds Will.
That’s the car he entered in the inaugural Land Rover Legends awards in 2018, rapidly admitting he’s not really one for competitions, but if it means he can participate with fellow enthusiasts he will do it. Instead, Will prefers to keep the cars fettled and ready for a day out of a weekend “as a special occasion vehicle”. Principally his interest is about the whole process: restoring – with a focus on originality, from which he gets a real kick, but then using them, appreciating their character. “I enjoy the way they drive. They’re effortless for a big car. When you drive one, you know. You can’t really explain it,” he says.
Any evolving collection needs a focus, and Meacham has a vision for what the future holds, ideally keeping it to ten, carefully-chosen cars. His aim is to slowly add cars as and when he sees those that are unique. “I’d like a P38A nicely-specced Autobiography at some point, perhaps a Holland and Holland,” he reveals. “I’ve also found a 1988 Overfinch, still with the interior intact.” No bad options there, I think we’d all agree.
Three individual variants, all genuine collector fodder
On later models he admits he’s a fan. “I’d like an L405, straight-six petrol, in Autobiography spec – probably my dream car, long-term,” he jokes, but also sees the appeal of an L322, which he considers the last of the originally boxy Range Rover shape. Ever keen, he can visualise the spec of that, too. “Westminster edition, green and tan, 4.2 Supercharged. I like a good L322, but I’m keen on finding another nice P38A as they’re so hard to find.
“If you wanted a nice spec 4.6 with less than 100k three or four years ago, you’d find one or two hundred online that were okay,” he says. “Whereas now, you’ll maybe find four or five. I think a lot of people were scared of the electronics, which aren’t particularly complicated, so many got salvaged, off-roaded, destroyed. Now they’re far rarer than trying to find a Classic.” Who would have thought that? But the same situation befalls early Discoverys.
There’s an elephant in the room. Meacham has the gems of the Efi era well and truly covered, but aside from the modified 1988 3.5 – the only model in the collection on carbs, but still four doors – there’s no nod to the usual Range Rover must-have, the early two-door. His reply is straightforward, and honest. “I’ve never been able to afford a two-door, and also they’re less usable,” he says. You might think that is down to a thirsty V8, or the slightly agricultural heritage of those early cars, but you’re wrong. The world’s greatest car has an Achilles Heel for Meacham. “I like to use them as my daily and if you’re my height, they are pretty uncomfortable – it's why I quite like later Range Rovers!” laughs Will.
The Will Meacham collection
• 1988 Vogue SE Auto, Caspian Blue (270 bhp 4.4 Oblic Automotive Racing engine)
• 1988 Vogue SE 3.5 Auto, Cypress Green
• 1990 Vogue 3.9, Ardennes Green
• 1993 Vogue SE, Cypress Green
• 1993 Vogue, Ardennes Green
• 1994 P38A 4.6 HSE, Aspen Silver
• 2001 4.6 Vogue, Oslo Blue
• 2001 4.6 Vogue, Aspen Silver
• 2002 Vogue SE, Oslo Blue
• 2000 30th Anniversary
• 2002 Discovery 2 ES Premium, Trocadero Red
Budget Digital Subscription
Get access to over 7 years of Land Rover Monthly – that’s almost 100 issues plus the latest digital issue. The issues are fully searchable so you can easily find what you are looking for and what’s more it’s less than 10p a day to subscribe. Click here and start enjoying all the benefits now.