I’m dreaming of a grey Disco…

I own a Land Rover Discovery. This is good!

Land Rover Discovery Series 1 pre-facelift

A flattering picture of my £450 Land Rover Discovery

It doesn’t look too bad in that photo, but it really isn’t a good one. What do you expect for £450 with tax and test? Yet, it isn’t too tired either. It has 179,000 miles on the clock and sure, the mechanicals aren’t entirely fresh, but I thought it drove quite nicely once I adjusted to the gearbox. Second-gear synchromesh seems long gone, and it’s tricky to find third. Double-declutching solved the first problem, while a bit of practice soon had me finding all of the gears, with only an occasional crunch…

I never expected to find a Discovery for so little. Even wrecks seem to fetch £500 or more, because they’re such good breakers. Defender owners want them for the engines and all Landy fans are eager to get the other bits. I struck gold because it was poorly listed in the parts section. A one-line description and hidden away so it was nigh on impossible to find. It’s a sign of just how many hours I spent trawling Ebay and other classified sites that I was able to find it at all.

The people selling it proved very pleasant. I negotiated a bit more off the asking price which went some way to helping with the massive costs to collect it. I hired a car (£80), put fuel in it (£20), caught a train (£12), caught a bus (£2.65) and drive it home (estimated £30). It’s probably cost me £150. I could have had it delivered for about £200, but where’s the fun in that?

As Collection Capers go, this one went entirely to plan. The journey to Leicester was free of traffic, the train was on time and the bus very nearly arrived when it should. The car was as described (including subsequent discussions on email as the original description didn’t amount to much) and seemed to be in relatively good working order – gearbox aside.

It’s still something of a leap of faith to trust such a completely unknown and very cheap vehicle for the 170-mile drive home though. I was quite nervous as I headed onto the A14. A cautious 60mph was necessary at first, partly so I could adjust to the car and partly because it was raining so hard that going faster was pure folly. 60mph kept me out of the way of the trucks and with some weather improvements, I could push up to the limit.

It didn’t take long for me to fall for this vehicle. Sure, it has issues, but not as many as it might have. The ridiculously chunky steering wheel, the commanding driving position and the fact that I’ve wanted a Discovery almost entirely like this one since I was 15 mean that even the M6 couldn’t depress me. Actually, I took the M6 Toll in the end as congestion was reported.

Motorways aren’t really what the Discovery was designed for, but it ate the miles with aplomb. I love the engine – it has superb torque characteristics and negligible turbo lag. Hard to believe it’s a design over 24 years in age.

I’m entirely realistic though. The To Do list is massive. A timing belt replacement is very necessary and as it ran hot at extended motorway speeds, a full coolant drain and flush is on the cars, with a new water pump and thermostat. There’s a slight steering shimmy at times and it’s cosmetically challenged in many ways. It would be nice to do something about that 2nd gear crunch too – perhaps a fluid change will help.

Quality car repair

Cosmetically challenged!

The MOT is up in September. By then hopefully I’ll know what the future of the car is. If it’s a good enough basis, it might find itself getting slowly restored or it’ll be so rotten that it’ll be broken for spares. I suppose I’d better admit that I might get bored with it. I’m not sure I will though. This is my kind of car. Simple, huge suspension travel and built like a Meccano kit. Hmmm. What else do I own like that?

What do you reckon?

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