Range Rover Restoration

Dragging the RR from the garage

The Range Rover has been slowly deteriorating ever since I left the UK eight years ago.  Well, it was deteriorating long before that too, but leaving it half stripped down for restoration in a garage that isn’t as well ventilated as I’d like hasn’t been doing it any favours.

The plan had been to do as much of the work as possible myself, including learning to MIG weld, but it looks like I will be staying overseas a while longer than originally planned.  Between that and as a 50th birthday present to myself, I decided to get at least the body done so that it wouldn’t rot away further and the tricky but visible stuff would be to a higher standard than I’d be capable of.

Separated shell and chassis

I did a bit of looking around at the details and websites of a few recommended Range Rover restoration specialists, narrowed it down to two, which I then visited on a fairly hectic work trip.  Both do great work, but one was struggling with temporary premises and about to do battle with the council over a new workshop, while the other was well established in a great site, was a fair bit quicker and fuller in the email and phone responses, and works on vehicles a good deal more valuable than Range Rovers, so the decision was made.

Solid but dirty chassis

The initial plan was to have just the body shell and panels done, but now that they had to separate shell from chassis, it’d be folly not to have them clean back the chassis, suspension and axle cases to clean metal and deal with them too.  I still intend to do the axle innards myself later, with a pair of ATBs to boot.  The dampers will get new SuperPro bushes.  If the suspension arms need new bushes, they will probably be genuine replacements, but maybe a comfort spec SuperPro, depending on advice given.  I’m keeping the springs, as they give great ride and a slightly sporty poise (similar to the original RR Sport) with the police spec rear springs, but they’ll get the rubber ring spring isolators to sit between spring tops and chassis mounts, reducing road noise a bit.  If they are in good order, I’ll also keep the DeCarbon dampers – they went out of business a long time ago, so can’t be replaced with the like.  It can keep the existing tyres for now, as it’ll go into storage until I come home.  Amazingly, they haven’t needed a top up in ten years; it seems a shame to scrap them later!

300Tdi, original

The engine was already rebuilt by Turner Engineering, but that was a decade ago.  The good news is that the nitrile gloves I used to blank all the intakes are still intact, so there will have been no flow of moist air into the engine to create condensation, and the overfilling of the sump with fresh oil will have minimised internal air volumes too.  So, it just needs the injectors servicing.  The flywheel had rusted a little while the complete engine was stored under covers, but that has been turned and cleaned up.

R380 and Borg Warner

The R380 gear box is going to be rebuilt by the restorers.  I included the Ashcroft rebuild kit with all the boxes of parts, so they will have the suffix specific bearings, seals and so on.  The clutch fork with get the nylon bush insert and reinforcement kit from Britannica Restorations near Ottawa.  The box is also getting a brand new oil cooler, only normally fitted to exports to hot climates, along with the elusive genuine thermostatic adaptor that I got used from Ashcroft.  One of the oil cooler lines is available new, but old the other is long since unavailable.  I found a good used one, which will go onto the system.  The Borg Warner transfer box will be cleaned up and inspected, servicing as required, but it was faultless when laid up, so I don’t expect it to need much.

Bonnet

It transpires that the body panels are all good to be reused.  The genuine spare front wing I bought at Billing years ago can stay in its box.  The restorer boss said he nearly fell off his seat when he saw its invoice – £35, now over £600!  Even the doors have only minimal skin corrosion to sort before painting.  The roof will have the hole cut for the first owner’s car phone antenna welded up, back to smooth like when it rolled off the line.

Rear arches

Shell

The inner shell is generally better than most.  The inner front wings could be patched up, but it’s neater and quicker to fit identical spec replacements.  The rear arches only have holes where the flanges of the boot side panels are spot welded to them, so they will have strips of new steel laid in but will be retained.  There isn’t a spot of rust near the seat belt moorings, which is almost unheard of.  The boot floor is being replaced, and the new one will be fitted with bolts rather than spot welds, much like the original RRs, for ease of future maintenance.  Likewise the rad panel between the new headlamp boxes – that will be bolt-in like earlier models, but with brazed on studs and concealed nuts, so it retains the late appearance.   The bulkhead looks nearly mint.   The left foot well and the sills… well, you can’t have it all.

They will complete the air conditioning installation as they rebuild it.  Most if it was fitted before I laid the car up, but it still needed a couple of engine bay pipes and a bit of wiring.

One of three E-Types and many more high value classics in the shop

Their work on the other vehicles in the shop is jaw dropping, so I’m really excited about this.  It’s nerve wracking to spend so much on it, but you’d spend more on a new mid-range car of no discernible character, so it’s worth it for a classic luxury car that will end up better built and better protected than almost any mass produced modern vehicle.  I can’t wait until I can drive it.