Range Rover Classic | Spotted

Someone once fled the Russian advance across Afghanistan in this V8. It deserves a fitting second act

By John Howell / Monday, 25 April 2022 / Loading comments

It struck me, while pondering the subject of today’s spotted that – wait for it – how flipping mad the world has become. Yes, this is a hell of a statement for a Monday, but it’s true (or maybe it’s true that I’ve gone mad?). This is a bonkers place where the true meaning of everything seems have got lost in the mire of those seven deadly sins. You know: pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth. Now, at this point, you’re probably wondering how a rather handsome Range Rover Classic has elicited such a cataclysmic conclusion on the state of humanity. Well, let me explain.

It’s always good to meet the well-travelled and worldly wise, which, according to Graeme Hunt, this Rangie is. In 1975, with its Masai red paint barely hardened, it was delivered to its new owner and then dispatched to Iran. Now, that’s already a tale in itself, but, apparently, it only got more elaborate. It also popped over the border to Afghanistan, where I’d imagine its off-roading abilities came in very handy indeed. And who knows in which country it was residing during 1979, but, as it happened, neither was a place to picnic. Iran was having a little revolution, and Afghanistan was embarking on a decade-long guerrilla war.

So what do you do in that scenario? Well, if you’re anything like the owner of our Range Rover, you pack up your leather-bound suitcase and drive back to blighty, obviously. Now, if you’re thinking about doing the North Coast 500 this summer and gearing up for all that entails – planning the route, checking the tyre pressures, making sure the fanbelt is tight – this Classic’s classic journey makes that look like trip to your local retail park. As the crow flies, it’s a journey of around 4,500 miles, but this car didn’t follow a crow. In fact, it ended up coming back via Spain, which points to an even longer voyage right across the top of Africa, crossing into Europe from Morocco. Potentially, we’re talking 12 countries ticked off on that one trip. And despite Range Rover’s iffy reliability record, the evidence is – by dint of the fact it’s here – it made it.

Then there’s the Range Rover itself. In the 1970s, this Classic was the definition of luxury. And yet look at the interior. It’s lovely and fresh, just like the outside, but as far as luxury goes, what are we’re talking? Some carpet, velour seat trim, a heater and a radio. In today’s world it’s about as well appointed as the RAF C-17s used to airlift people out of Afghanistan’s most recent spot of political turmoil. There’s something rather lovely in the fact that we were so easily pleased back then. Today’s Range Rover, which most owners wouldn’t drive along a green lane let alone through 12 countries, is like sitting in a cross between a spa hotel and an executive jet. Does it make us any happier to be so pampered? It doesn’t seem to. Depending on which side of the privacy glass you sit, you’re probably going to be suffering the effects of one or more of the following: pride, greed, lust, envy and gluttony.

And then we have to consider what might become of our intrepid explorer now. This is the strangest bit, because a car’s fundamental pretence is to move people and things about. In theory, then, the farther it has travelled the better. And where this car has travelled is one of the very reasons it’s so interesting. Except that these days it’s likely to get snapped up by a collector. This could be one who is consumed by a mix of lust, pride and envy. The sort who looks to snuffle up low-milers, like this big, ruby-red gem, and squirrel ’em away in vaults labelled ‘This is mine; hands off.’ There, they won’t be gathering dust, though, because they’re vacuum sealed in a big bag for life, for fear of any discarded skin landing on the precious quarry and devaluing it. This, is a terrible shame, because it doesn’t make anyone very happy.

So, here’s the thing. Has anyone reading this got £65,000 to spend? If so, it’s a reasonable amount to be shelling out for a two-door Classic like this, in this condition and with this provenance. But don’t sit on it; don’t store it. Sit in it, and drive it. Drive it on the journey of your life – one of equally epic proportions to the one this very car did back in the day. Because doing so will make you feel great; certainly a lot greater than just knowing you have it banked but never using it. It’ll put you back in touch with the now; with the wonders of the natural world. It’ll make you a better person and make you feel alive. That’s what cars should be about. Not the massaging seats, touchscreens, ambient lighting or the investment potential. Cars are about the shared experience and the journey. Bon voyage.

Specification | Range Rover Classic

Engine: 3,528cc, V8, naturally aspirated
Transmission: 4-speed manual, four-wheel drive
Power (hp): 126 @ 4,000rpm
Torque (lb ft): 186 @ 2,400rpm
CO2: N/A
First registered: 1975
Recorded mileage: 15,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £65,000

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