V8 Conundrum

If you’ve read my blogs, you’ll know that in December, I bought a Land Rover 90 V8. A childhood dream realised at last!

Yet there’s a feeling of ‘don’t meet your heroes’ that has crept in of late. Don’t get me wrong, I love V8s, and this is my second car equipped with Rover’s ex-Buick engine – the first being a Rover P6B. But I don’t think it’s the right engine for a Land Rover.

To me, Land Rovers are agricultural – trucks with just about enough comfort to make them realistic as road transport, albeit nowhere near as competent as an actual car. I love them for that. But you don’t get many trucks with a V8 engine do you?

No, they employ diesels both for economy and because when it comes to low down dirty grunt, a heavy oil burner has it by the bucket load. Yes, the V8 has a remarkable amount of torque for a petrol engine, but having twin carburettors and an ignition system, it doesn’t have that serene pull of a diesel at lower revs.

But then, if I wanted a diesel Land Rover, I’d find there’s quite a premium to pay – especially if I got my hands on the one I really want. That’s the TD5. It’s an engine with a rather poor reputation, yet my neighbour’s Discovery has clocked up 225,000 without significant fault. It’s a great sounding engine too – a hint of five-cylinder warble and the growl of an engine that knows how to do its business.

Oh well. Can’t afford one anytime soon, so I s’pose I’ll have to make do for now. Or sell it and buy something completely different…

Let’s off road!

I’ve already had the opportunity to put my Land Rover, only purchased just before Christmas, through its paces.

Testing my bog-standard Land Rover 90 V8

Testing my bog-standard Land Rover 90 V8

The Bala Off Road Centre proved an ideal place to test the limits of my 90 V8 County Station Wagon, even though it has no modifications and sits on pretty standard Mud and Snow tyres rather than chunky, off road rubber. It was good too! We only had to resort to locking the centre differential on a few occasions and while better tyres would certainly have been beneficial, we never once got irretrievably stuck. While some sections required one or two attempts, we clambered up rocks and through muddy forests with aplomb.

It was great fun and I’m looking forward to a green lane session in February now.

Classic winter motoring

Using a classic through the winter requires courage!

 

As we move into 2011, it’s time to look forward to digging out your classic and preparing to hit the road.

Or maybe, like me, your classics have been in regular use throughout the winter. If so, then congratulations on your bravery! A recent clean of my Citroën 2CV revealed that the poor thing is rather rusty in places – to the state that I’m considering hand-painting it to keep on top of the corrosion. Keeping a classic in first rate order at this time of the year is certainly a challenge.

But I find a lot of joy in driving classics at this time of year. Sure, it can be cold and it does create issues such as the rust-chasing, but journeys gain an epic sense of adventure – especially the 700 miles I clocked up over Christmas in the Tin Snail. There’s other bonuses too. When grip is at a premium, as it has been here in the wilderness of West Wales, I’d much rather be in a car  that lacks power assistance of its controls, allowing me to feel when grip is there and when it is not.

Sometimes, it really is not  there, which is where my 1988 Land Rover 90 County Station Wagon V8 comes in. At 15mpg however, I tend to rather hope that we don’t get too much snow! Sitting somewhere in between the two is my Citroën BX TGD estate, though as 12-hour mission to get from Cardiff (two-hours away) to home revealed that there’s no substitute for four-wheel drive when things get really slippy. A journey I’d rather forget. The BX also disgraced itself by freezing its heater matrix at one point.

It’s a battle to keep all three vehicles in sound condition with so much salt on the roads. I think I’d better get out there with the hose once more…