07 March 2023
Paul Jones’s first Land Rover started life as a stock 2018 V6 Discovery HSE Lux, bought predominantly for work and family duties. But then he got the bug for greenlaning and off-roading and things soon changed…
Paul Jones is definitely not your average LRM reader. He doesn’t own a D2 with big tyres and his wife doesn’t drive a Freelander 1 or old Defender. In fact, this Shropshire-based friendly fellow owns a window and conservatory company, and it was only a few years ago that he purchased his first ever Land Rover. It was for the business, a then six-month old 2018 Discovery with the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine plus all the bells and whistles.
It was meant for family holidays and towing work trailers and diggers. “When I bought it,” Paul reveals, “it was my pride and joy. I like things to be perfect and spotless, so I even washed it every week. Then the two kids (now six and two and half-years old) came along, so it got a little dirtier. I then entered the fascinating world of greenlaning and it got even dirtier still. It would be fair to say that the off-roading and greenlaning have become a bit of an obsession.”
Owner Paul Jones poses with his modded D5
As most LRM readers have been around Land Rovers their whole lives, I ask Paul to talk about his life before Landys, also known as LBL. Is there such a thing some of you may ask? “Prior to the Disco I had a Mercedes-AMG E63 S, though Land Rovers have always caught my eye.
A friend of mine worked for Land Rover and so I went there to buy a Velar. But he put me in his demo Disco and I just completely fell in love with it. I love technology so I told him that I want the best money can buy; it had to have the digital dash. I never thought at the time I would go off-roading in it. This was for work and the family.”
Never say never… It didn’t take Paul long to find Adam Hearne from 4x4 Wales via social media, who guides greenlaning trips in Shropshire and Wales. He said that Paul was welcome to join one of his trips as long as he had decent off-road tyres – he didn’t, so had to dash out and buy some. “Adam really looked after me and the car. He spotted me and guided me. I am not an extreme off-roader, and while I like to challenge myself and the Land Rover, I like to drive home without any damage suffered.
Cool variation on he stick figure family stickers
“So even though I take it through deep water and up and down tricky rocky challenges, I can still drive it home at a decent speed. It tows my caravan, works for me and does everything I ask of it. My wife uses it for shopping. It is such a versatile vehicle and is the only vehicle that I have ever owned that can do so many different tasks.” Paul sounds like a Land Rover marketeer’s dream, especially one trying to sell someone a new Discovery.
I know that Paul isn’t just saying these things to impress me, because when I take a peek at his Instagram page while we are chatting, I can see that only last week he loaded seven people into his Disco before driving it to Norfolk; all the baggage, paddle and boogie boards went on the roof and bike rack. What more would you want from your Land Rover?
When Paul purchased his D5 he went to his local Land Rover Experience for a full day of driving and tuition. This has been his only formal 4x4 training to date. Obviously the more you go off-roading the better you get, while the latest Discovery is a pretty capable vehicle to start off with.
D5 fitted with a Llams electronic 12-stage lift kit
The Discovery Paul now has is very different from the one he purchased several years ago. I ask him about its transformation process. “A lot of it revolves around the Front Runner roof rack, it is really the pendulum of it all. It has to house my expedition boxes, Maxtrax recovery boards and ARB awning, but it also has to accommodate our two bicycles and my roof box when we’re going on a family holiday. It has to be organised, laid out properly and versatile. I have purchased and then subsequently sold lots of things to get it where it is now. Where I am going and the purpose of the trip determine the setup. When doing off-roading expeditions I put the customised slide-out two-drawer unit with an ARB fridge/freezer in the boot; when going away with the family, that’s removed and a roof box replaces the ammo boxes on the rack. As the kids sit in the middle row of seats they have DVD entertainment screens in the headrests. I like owning a car that is different, I don’t want to look like everyone else.” I can say with confidence that Paul’s Discovery most certainly looks different to 99.9 per cent of the other newer Discos out there.
18in rims chosen to allow the air-down of the tyres off-road
When Paul purchased his Discovery it had 22-inch diamond-cut alloys with low-profile tyres. These were replaced with Land Rover Discovery 20-inch wheels and 255/55 R20 BFG KO2 tyres. However, these didn’t give him enough sidewall to air-down properly and so he decided to replace them with 18-inch Evo Corse wheels and 265/65 R18 BFG KO2 tyres. For them to work, Paul had to modify the arches by cutting them back to help with clearance. He also popped an ARB air compressor into the engine bay so that airing-up and down would not be a problem. That’s not all it’s used for – the kid’s bike tyres, balls and inflatable toys are also pumped up courtesy of the compressor.
Front Runner rack home to 42in light bar, CB aerial, traction mats
Paul does most of the non-electrical work himself and I was very impressed with the quality of his workmanship. But when it comes to things such as the winch or light fitment, he calls on the professionals. Wales and Shropshire are obviously very dark parts of Britain, because as I walk around the front of Paul’s Disco I notice that he has the Osram 42-inch light bar in the Front Runner housing attached to the front of the roof rack. In addition, there are two ST4 Lazer Lamps front lights integrated into the grille, which work off the Disco’s high beam assist. A Warn VR Evo 8 winch completes the accessories on the front of the vehicle. Paul is totally honest and quick to say that he bought the winch because it looks good, though it was used once to self-recover up a rocky climb in north Wales.
Some time ago Paul did consider buying a Discovery 4 and converting that into his off-roader. He explains the reasons. “There are not many specialists out there making off-road accessories for the latest Discovery, so you have to find someone to fabricate things, which is not cheap. That’s not the case with the D4 and D3 as they have so many aftermarket parts available.” After doing the sums, Paul figured it would cost him around £40,000 to kit out a D3 or D4, but instead his wife told him to grow a pair of balls and just add the kit to his newer Discovery and use it for adventuring and off-roading. As you can see the rest is history.
Owner Paul is a fan of the Disco 5’s creature comforts
CB radio handy on off-road expeditions
With two young kids, the family isn’t always able to join Paul on his off-roading adventures, but his son Otis loves watching Dad’s Disco in action on YouTube. I have to ask Paul how it feels when he picks up a scratch or ding when off-roading in such an expensive Land Rover. “That’s a tough one. What I have learnt is that you have to pick the right people like Adam to go out with. He wants to make sure that the vehicles are in the same condition when starting and finishing. So, if a lane is scratchy he gives you the bypass option. I once went out with a group of Jimny owners in Shropshire and it was very different. I lost a side step on a rock and it dented my door. They all left me there stuck and carried on. Their vehicles were obviously much smaller than mine and it felt as if they were trying to prove that my vehicle was too big for the narrow and tight lines they had chosen.” Despite this nasty experience Paul still heads out off-roading on a regular basis, but with like-minded friends (and vehicles) who like to look out for each other.
Twin sliding drawers very neatly packed
Back to the car’s mods. Paul had a customised bracket made to house the second battery in the engine bay and he has the Redarc dual battery selector system so that if camped up at the same spot for a few days, he will still be able to power the fridge and lights. Then when he next drives, the leisure battery charges up again.
When out laning and camping with his mates, Paul attaches the four-walled privacy room to his ARB awning and sleeps on a stretcher inside of that. “I am constantly buying things and building up my stock of camping equipment. I use a lot of the camping gear when I go away in the caravan with the family, such as the Front Runner stainless steel table.”
Paul is on the hunt for better quality rock sliders
6mm-thick underbody protection
As Paul uses his Discovery for tough trails he has beefed it up a little for added protection. First up were the already mentioned rock sliders which he describes as “not great.” So, if anyone knows where he can find decent ones then please do get in touch. Paul also installed additional 6mm-thick underbody protection. Then as a final off-road aid, he has the Australian Llams electronic lift kit – the company also does a kit for the D4. This kit gives Paul 12 different suspension height settings, which is very useful when crawling over rocks. Prior to this Paul tried another kit (we won’t mention the name) but in extended height mode the ride was way too hard and uncomfortable. He is very happy with the Llams system. “I have it off most of the time for day-to-day use, but it comes into its own when off-roading. What’s great about the system is that when you turn it off it’s undetectable. It has made a big difference to my off-roading, especially when on technical lanes when you need that extra lift.”
An off-road D5: there’s something you don’t see every day…
I ask Paul if he has any bits of advice to other owners of newer Land Rovers who are contemplating a similar lifestyle to his. “I go really slowly when off-roading because I don’t want to damage my Disco, but my friends know and accept that. I like my perks and comforts such as heated and cooled seats which is why I drive the Discovery 5. There are so many beautiful open and non-damaging tracks and views to enjoy in the UK which any basic new Discovery would be able to do, so I would actively encourage them to just get out there and do it.”
The Wales and the Lake District are Paul’s favourite two off-roading destinations. “I would love to do Europe or Morocco when the kids are a little older, as I would like my family to come with me.”
I find Paul’s story inspiring as I too only fell in love with Land Rovers and off-roading when I was 30-years old. I enjoy our little chat so much that I decide to join Paul on a future laning trip in the Lakes. Who knows, we might even see a few other tricked-up new Discoverys out there.
Leisure battery on custom mounts in the front of the engine bay
• Diesel tuning chip with 306bhp
• 18-inch Evo Corse wheels shod in 265/65 R18 BFG KO2
• Llams electronic lift kit
• ARB compressor
• Front Runner roof rack
• Maxtrax recovery boards
• Front Runner bicycle mounts x2
• 42-inch Osram lightbar
• Lazer Lamps ST2 rear and T4 Lazer Lamps fron
• Lazer lights either side in the rear for camping
• 6mm-thick half underbody protection
•Warn VR Evo 8 winch
• Red Factor 55 hook lock, rock sliders
• Custom drawer system
• ARB fridge/freezer with slide
• ARB 2x 2.5m pull-out awning with privacy room
• Motorola M5 CB radio, Redarc battery charger and auxiliary battery
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