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1979 RANGE ROVER 2-door

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1979 RANGE ROVER 2-door

Background

The Range Rover Classic is one of the Top Three Most Influential Cars of the 20th Century; the initial concept of a high-performance car that was as capable on the road as off it was so right – and so far ahead of its time - that it has spawned (and spawned is the word in the case of the Bentley Bentayga et al) every upmarket SUV, crossover and four-wheel-drive estate car designed ever since.

But, despite its importance – it has been displayed in the Museum of Modern Art and the Musée du Louvre, amongst others - few could have predicted its recent meteoric rise in value: it has gone from an unloved MOT-failure and bobtail candidate to a genuine alternative to a new SUV (have you seen how much JLR is asking for a Range Rover Reborn?) for the well-heeled in less than half a decade.

The Range Rover’s largely aluminium body’s corrosion resistance is somewhat compromised by the steel framework and ladder chassis it sits upon. That said, the 3.5-litre petrol V8 engine is largely bulletproof and both the manual and automatic gearboxes are capable of withstanding a huge amount of abuse with only rudimentary maintenance.

Solid axles front and rear locate coil-spring suspension, giving massive wheel articulation, something that accounts for a large part of the Range Rover’s off-road prowess. Full-time four-wheel-drive (none of your lily-livered all-wheel-drive here…) gives huge traction on snow and ice, and the centre differential can be locked when you need to split the torque equally between the axles in more challenging circumstances.

High-speed stability and handling is peerless for a vehicle of this size, which made it the ideal platform for both the police and special forces; the comfort and decadence it offered made it a firm favourite with the Royal Family and other well-heeled country folk; and its simplicity meant that it could be kept running using only third world tools and facilities where necessary.

Now a bona fide classic capable of wafting you to your weekend cottage or your London pied-à-terre, your biggest concern when buying one should be rust and corrosion, which makes our next auction listing the ideal car for the novice dipping their toe into the shark-infested waters of Range Rover Classic ownership…

PATINA PICKS: https://picks.getpatina.com/2015/03/the-range-rover-land-rovers-plush-off-road-masterpiece/

The Vehicle

As very rare two-door diesel-engined model, this left-hand-drive range Rover Classic has spent its life in the sunny and dry region of Brignoles in south-east of France. Thought to have been a special order and fitted as an approved conversion by a local garage when it was new, little is known of this straight-six engined vehicle and its life abroad.

Finished in Bahama Gold and still running the original four-speed manual gearbox, it sports a homemade snorkel, an intriguing feature and one that hints at something of an adventurous existence.

Having been used in France as recently as this May after being lightly refurbished and CT’d (the French equivalent of our MOT), we can confirm that it starts, runs and stops but nothing else should be taken for granted and it will need further re-commissioning before it could be safely and reliably used as everyday transport.

But, more importantly, it’s very solid and as a ‘No Reserve’ auction it might prove to be a ridiculously cost-effective way of getting your hands on the short-lived ‘Suffix G’ Range Rover Classic you thought you could no longer afford.

On the Outside

The Bahama Gold coachwork is pretty straight and in good shape, despite what might be a poor first impression. With only a five-digit odometer and no history, we don’t know how many kilometers it has covered but if the bodywork is anything to go by, it hasn’t lived too hard a life.

There’s no serious rot that we can see; while the majority of the body panels are alloy, the underlying framework and floorpans are all steel and while these do have some surface corrosion, this doesn’t seem to have deteriorated into rust and rot, unlike most of the UK cars you’ll see being offered. (Not that there are many ‘Suffix G’ examples out there; as the most short-lived of all the so-called ‘Suffix’ models, this LHD diesel is probably a one-off…)

Yes, there are some extraneous bits and bobs to remove including rear light guards, rubber bonnet straps, a homemade snorkel, and additional bonnet vents but you’re going to be respraying it anyway, so none of that really matters, does it?

There is a rear towbar too plus what looks to be a pukka front towing frame, both of which add to the vehicle’s (already mighty) versatility.

The steel wheels need repainting too, and while some of the tyres look okay, we can see that the new owner will almost certainly want to pop a matching set of new tyres on if for no other reason that they’re so cheap it would be daft not to.

On the Inside

The good news is that the interior is largely original, including the sought after four-spoke steering wheel. The bad news is that most of it is beyond saving as most of the fabric has perished and some of the plastic trim has warped and cracked in the hot sun.

Still, that’s okay because almost all of it is still available and what isn’t could probably be refurbished by any half-decent trimmer or sourced as good secondhand items through the usual sources.

Importantly, the seat frames, including the funky rear one with its central latching mechanism, all look to be reusable, as does most of the dashboard. Pretty much everything else is just a case of cleaning it and reusing it or flexing your credit card to source a replacement.

Underneath

We don’t know much about the straight-six diesel engine other than it appears to have been fitted by a Land Rover approved garage in France when the vehicle was new, making this a very unusual example, possibly unique.

Mated to the original four-speed gearbox, our research has left us stumped, so if you’ve got any ideas then we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

Other than that, as you can see from the video it starts well, and while it will need trailering away, the vendor tells us that he smoked around France in it until May of this year. The previous owner had new dampers and springs fitted along with a battery and some relays. The fuel tank looks recent too, as do the rear brake calipers.

We’ve driven it around the yard. While we struggled to get it into high-range, in low-range it feels utterly unstoppable thanks to some of the most impressive torque we can remember experiencing.

The engine bay is purposeful rather than pretty but it, like the underside, appears to be way more solid than you might think at first glance; what corrosion there is looks to be superficial and the underlying metal and chassis look to be impressively solid.

In fact, someone has already made a start on the bodywork restoration having replaced the boot floor.

History Highlights

The Range Rover doesn’t have a current MOT certificate, and while it is exempt by virtue of its age, we would strongly encourage the new owner to have the car re-MOT’d at the earliest. The cost of an MOT is a small investment when offset against the purchase and upkeep of any classic car, and it gives an independent, third-party assessment of the car’s condition, which not only provides reassurance to the owner (and any subsequent purchasers) but might also be invaluable in the event of a bump when negotiating with the police and any interested insurance companies…

If you’d like to inspect the car prior to placing a bid – something we would encourage – then please use the Contact Seller button to arrange an appointment.

NB: While we have the car’s French registration paperwork, it is not yet registered in the United Kingdom.

What We Think

This is an intriguing car in many respects not least because it is far, far more solid than its somewhat disheveled appearance suggests. With a straight-six diesel engine, its drivetrain is both unusual and unusually powerful, capable of reversing the earth’s rotation in low-range and using nothing more than tickover.

Bahama Gold is a great period colour too, and given only a modicum of skill and money, we can see this delightful old barge being restored to its former glory with surprising ease.

As to value, who knows: The very best of the ‘Suffix’ two-doors passed £50,000 many years ago, so while we think this one might only fetch a tenth of that, somewhere between £4,000 - £8,000, it is being offered with no reserve, making it something of a lucky dip for interested buyers.

So, if you’ve got a half-decent tool kit and a hankering to own one of the most iconic vehicles ever built, why not pop in a speculative bid and see what happens. After all, the coming winter is unlikely to bring much in the way of good news, so you might as well be tucked away in your garage fettling a British legend, eh?

Viewing is always encouraged, and this particular car is located with us at The Market HQ near Abingdon; to arrange an appointment please use the Contact Seller button at the top of the listing. Feel free to ask any questions or make observations in the comments section below, or try our ‘Frequently Asked Questions’.

If needed, please remember we have a network of trusted suppliers we work with regularly and can recommend: Classic & Sportscar Finance for purchase-financing, Footman James for classic car insurance, Classic Concierge for storing your car plus we have a list of contacts who can help with transport and shipping.  

BORING, but IMPORTANT: Please note that whilst we at The Market always aim to offer the most descriptive and transparent auction listings available, we cannot claim they are perfect analyses of any of the vehicles for sale. We offer far greater opportunity for bidders to view, or arrange inspections for each vehicle thoroughly prior to bidding than traditional auctions, and we never stop encouraging bidders to take advantage of this. We do take a good look at the vehicles delivered to our premises for sale, but this only results in our unbiased personal observations, not those of a qualified inspector or other professional, or the result of a long test drive.

Also, localised paint repairs are common with collectable and classic cars and if they have been professionally carried out then they may be impossible to detect, even if we see the car in person. So, unless we state otherwise, please assume that any vehicle could have had remedial bodywork at some point in its life.

Additionally, please note that most of the videos on our site have been recorded using simple cameras which often result in 'average' sound quality; in particular, engines and exhausts notes can sound a little different to how they are in reality.

Please note that this is sold as seen and that, as is normal for used goods bought at auction, return policy does not apply. See our FAQs for more info, and feel free to inspect any vehicle as much as you wish.

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Seller

michael

  • Location: Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Odometer Reading: 80000
  • Chassis Number: 35860879G
  • Engine: ?
  • Gearbox: Manual
  • Colour: Bahama Gold
  • Interior: Cloth

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