Range Rover 5.0 Autobiography: PH Fleet

I needed to tow my trailer and so confidently grabbed the keys to the Rangie, only to be dismayed at the lack of a tow bar. You might remember that I'm the mug who bought an L322 for general pottering and towing duties, agreed a price in the knowledge that the removable hook had been taken by the previous owner and failed to check the price of a replacement. However, I didn't remember any of this.

A project that never quite got off the ground
A project that never quite got off the ground
So, stunned by a fact I was entirely in possession of I phoned Guy Salmon in Bristol and they quoted me £620 for a small lump of iron containing a cheap lock. Pillaging swines. Proving that my dismal mental abilities hadn't improved since the original purchase I succumbed to the transaction with pathetic ease, then moaned about the process on Twitter, only to receive replies suggesting that a non-Land Rover part would have saved me around £500. Balls.

The hook arrived the following day, I spent a while fiddling with it, managed to mate male and female parts, secured the Brian James electrics and went off to do some towing. I thoroughly enjoy occasional towing, much as I do occasional van driving - in small doses they both mark an escape from the norm and that makes me smile. The concentration, the thrill of doing something unfamiliar to the best of one's abilities. The threat of public shame if you don't - or if your abilities are a bit rubbish.

The purpose of this trip was to do something about the Series One Land Rover that has been rotting under my stewardship these past four years. It was bought with the intention of underpinning with a new chassis and then bumbling around lanes and collecting wood, but my old 2CV now covers the first role and I've not done much wooding of late so haven't really needed a flat-bed. With a bent rally car (more on that soon, and another silly project on-the-go; I don't really have the appetite right now, so I wanted to discover if this thing might be easily fixed, or if I should simply offload it).

Bought for £900, sold for £200...
Bought for £900, sold for £200...
The process nearly didn't happen because I managed to ding the trailer during the loading process and naturally blamed the inanimate lump of metal which needed transporting for the shunt - and to exact revenge I decided to go and dump it at the scrap yard forthwith. Then I reminded myself that it owed me £900 and giving it away out of spite probably wasn't clever.

Next stop, eBay. Here I looked for similar 107-inch models and my heart sank a little. The chassis and mechanical work needed would surely cost more than the end value - not an insurmountable issue, but hardly information that persuades you to persevere when the decision is marginal. And then I saw it - a small advert telling of expertise in these matters near Bristol. I phoned and messaged, he replied; four hours later I was outside his house asking questions. He was called Nick Davey. Nice chap. Knows his Landies.

"How much to do the chassis?"
"Probably three grand because it's a Series One"
"What about a clutch and the other stuff?"
"Can price a clutch, but the rest you just have to wait and see."

Small problem when a Series 1 needs moving
Small problem when a Series 1 needs moving
I had little appetite for waiting and seeing. "What'll you give me for it?", I asked, expecting some well-judged anti-107 invective, which duly arrived. As his opening gambit Nick was kind enough to suggest the front grille was worth £50 and, this being a week after the event, I can only congratulate him on the manner in which he strolled around the old heap uttering the odd hmmmmm, tssking and occasionally shaking his head. It was a masterful performance: dismissive but never disrespectful. Other traders could learn a thing-or-two from Nick's valuation body theatre.

"Two hundred quid" he proffered, with just the faintest suggestion that he might be concerned by my reaction.

"Done!" I beamed, heartily shaking his hand. After all, what's a £700 loss in the context of an audience with such sublime valuation skills?

The beauty of towing with a supercharged V8 petrol Range Rover is that you don't have to wait long to spend the £200 reward - ten minutes later I was fleeced of another £120 for a tank of unleaded and headed home with £80 to show for my adventure.

Solved £600 (!) later
Solved £600 (!) later
In all this excitement, I've forgotten to tell you what it's like to tow with a 500hp Rangie - it's actually a bit good. Even with a big old trailer and a chunky Landie out back it still feels brisk. Gearchanges are slick and the handling is solid. I cannot tell you how nervous I was about this whole escapade because the last two 322-based towing events I instigated ended in mechanical disaster. This one didn't, but equally I still didn't feel that sense of mechanical indomitability you associate with a Land Cruiser Amazon. But maybe I'm being harsh.

Minus a trailer, I really do adore pottering about in this truck. It scorches away from the lights if you need such histrionics, but at this time of year I tend to just waft around listening to the cricket. It worries me that the UK has completely abandoned the traditional estate car for these behemoths, but when you're tooling around in one it's so hard to deny the appeal of V8, the view from up-high, the gorgeous cabin and the odd scrabble off-road. Hypocrisy rules.

Now there's this to contend with
Now there's this to contend with
There is a small problem looming though. Yesterday I went to grab something from the boot and when the sunlight caught the corner of the upper tailgate, there were bubbles in the paintwork. Closer inspection revealed loads of corrosion on the outside and inside the panel. It's a right old mess and a bit of a shambles in a four year-old car. I'm normally completely laid-back about paint defects and other blemishes, but rampant tin-worm in something that cost £37K, is under four years old, has covered less than 25K miles and spends most of its time in a dry shed is a worry. I took it to Guy Salmon with my best quizzical face and they're coming back to me.

But the sheer charm of this 322 will continue to shine through regardless of the outcome. I love the styling, the discreet performance, the ride comfort, the beautiful caramel leather, the effortless towing, the integrated dog-tether and the fact that, unlike the new 405 series machine, it looks just like a Range Rover should.

I shall report back on the rust. I still cannot believe that it hasn't depreciated a bean. And, since you will all ask, about 13mpg.

2010 Range Rover 5.0 Supercharged Autobiography
Run by: Chris Harris
Bought: December 2013
Mileage: Less than 25,000
Purchase price: £38,000 (before man maths, haggling and finance...)
Last month at a glance: The Range Rover finally does some towing. Of another Harris Land Rover.

Previous updates:
Harris looks for a Land Cruiser, buys a supercharged Rangie
Three months in and Chris's Range Rover is (mostly) behaving itself

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (126) Join the discussion on the forum

  • kenno78 05 Aug 2014

    S1 = £900
    Tow bar = £600
    Fuel = £120

    I love it knowing someone else bleeds cash at a faster rate of knots than me whilst attempting to 'sort it out'.

  • Jonny TVR 05 Aug 2014

    If it makes you feel any better I specified my F10 M5 with a tow bar at a cost of almost £900 as you can't retro fit them and haven't even used it yet after 9 months of ownership. However I have taken great delight in showing anyone who is interested in how it electrically comes out from the underside to show its shiny self

  • Phil303 05 Aug 2014

    -£900 - £620 + £200 - £120 = -£1440. Even man-maths can't mitigate this experience into something a little less costly.

  • Prawnboy 05 Aug 2014

    kenno78 said:
    S1 = £900
    Tow bar = £600
    Fuel = £120

    I love it knowing someone else bleeds cash at a faster rate of knots than me whilst attempting to 'sort it out'.
    not even a tow bar, just the swan neck. I am going to open a shop next to his house he can be mugged for any amount of money.

  • Chicane-UK 05 Aug 2014

    The rust is pretty astonishing. Is this a known problem on these, or is this a pretty isolated example? Looks like it was just a Friday job in the paint shop!

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