|The Series 1||Defenders||The early and Classic Range Rover|
|Discovery -1998||The Range Rover (new)|
|Discovery 1998 on||The Freelander|
It was a long way from this ...
... to this
"Convenient dashboard layout with two handy parcel shelves. Twin scuttle ventilators are fitted and particular attention has been paid to weatherproofing, Optional extras include a radio and heaters for front and rear compartments."
1955 Station Wagon - authentic advertising text (click on image to enlarge)
"Technology at your hands reach"
1998 Range Rover Autobiography
But such comparisions are unfair towards the early Landrovers. At the time they were constructed the famous Conolly leather used so extensively on todays "top-of-the-range" models was mainly found in the back -in the form of living cattle.
In fact those models were exactly the way the prospected buyers wished them to be - simple, easy to clean and no nonsense that could fail in a remote place. Oh, surely, the people that bought them (mostly farmers and small companies) would have appreciated a BIT more comfort. And this wishes were fullfilled. Even if some took 20 years to appear in serial trim and others are not even completely integrated today (as the famous "weatherproofness").
One of the best ways to learn about it is in the way LR sees themself: through advertising and official press photos.
This is the 1967 Saxon Thinline conversion, officially approved by Landrover. The drivers seat now has a built-in shock absorber. Those hard Series IIA drivers got really pampered!
The 90/110/130 Defender models
Todays Defender range has still a no-nonsense cockpit that looks as it's made out of scrap parts that found together more by coincidence than by clever planning. (Below the 1997 model, the TD5 has a similar layout but an extremely ugly steering wheel hunchback.
Although I must admit that the fit is now much better than on the elder models of the 90/110's. Anyone who ever worked on the instrument cluster will surely appreciate the simple setup with apparent screws. And work you have to do, especially if yours is a somewhat "used" vehicle. The Instruments made by Lucas are still pure guesswork gauges, nobody knows what they actually show. Maybe it's not such a bad idea to switch to aftermarket VDO units. You can even read those AT NIGHT, something never be seen before in LR's utilitarian range. If you try to use brighter bulbs in the genuine instruments, the colored cap inside that reduces the bright white to a dark green dim will melt and glue to the bulb so you will not even be able to remove them again. Only the speedometer can be made to accept bulb holders for standard 5-Watt bulbs. I put 3 of them in mine and can now see my speed even with oncoming traffic.
The warning light cluster in the bottom obviously comes from some large truck (lorry) as one of those not connected warnings shows a tilted cab.
The rest of the interior is now very nice and comfy- at least compared to the 1955 models.
( Defender 110 - 12 seater)
Storage space is provided. The best place is in a cubby box but you will loose one seat. This can be accepted as the front middle place is only designe from sadists for masochists (sorry guys- you tried your best). Some more storage space is under the front seats where you normally have a metal box each side. Sadly you have the battery on one side. Maybe you have even an additional tank on the other side. Non-NAS 90's had the fuel tank standard under the right seat. No big loss, the boxes were never tight anyway. Putting sensible things like passports or cameras in the large front shelve beside the radio is not a very good idea. Either they get soaked from entering water, accumulate dust from the front vents or get cooked by the heater outlet. A good thing to do to the cubby box is to raise it with some sort of spacers to a decent height so you can rest your arm on it. But take care as with some gearboxes/large cubbys there's not much space left between the gear lever in 2nd/4th and the front edge of the box.
(The cubby box, small model in a 90 County)
The front seats are genuine Landrover tech. Some people love them. Others even never feel uncomfortable. The rest- like me- junked them out as soon as possible and replaced them by some Recaro seats with decent reclining possibilities. What I never understood is why the placed the seats on a car as large as this in the farest corner so XXL-people even have trouble getting in with thick winter clothes.
The second row of seats are clearly designed for transporting kids. Or sturdy workers who don't complain about the more than limited space and the uncomfortable seating position. Only by looking at the above picture you can see where the best seats are.
The last places are in the back. Ever transported 6 fully grown up people there for more than 5 minutes? Than you got an good picture of the "Mutiny on the Bounty". But for those occasional jumps to the pub they are fine. And they can be lifted upwards in seconds.
A problem that seems to be solved (after only 50 years) is the less-than-adequate heating especially on 110's with Tdi engines. The new Td5 heats much better.
Remember to take out the carpets from time to time. They are so watertight the water that gets trapped has no chance to get out. Nothing too dangerous as the floor panels are aluminium. But the bolts holding them will rust to a point they can't be loosened. Clever people peplace them with stainless nuts and bolts. And they replace the genuine plastic carpet by a skillfully cut cocoanut fiber carpet, the same you can buy in carpet shops. It isolates great against heat and noise and is absolutely waterresistant. Look out for those with a woven back, not those with the rubber back as they will not let water evaporate.
The windows actuators have always been a problem. They are a bit weak and the teeth begin to wear rapidly especially if the guides are dirty. Replacement is no big deal and parts are readily available. It is possible to transform the genuine setup to electric windows using parts from a Rover limousine and mixing them with your parts. You have to cut a bit out of the sheet metal on the inside of the door but this will be covered by the door skins. It IS possible and helps ventilating a lot but the place is very limited so take care.
A central locking on pre-Td5's is also possible, the problem lies in the rear door. It can be done however.
On 90's you may complain about the limited reclining ability, limited by the rear bulkhead. Removing this bulkhead has some disadvantages: You will no longer be able to mount a pickup roof and the body will loose stiffness. Look at a 110 when you close the door with some energy: the whole body trembles and you have to smash the door to shut it. But on the 90 you can take out the bulkhead and replace it by a solid bar running from one side to the other but about 10 cm/4 inches further to the back. This will give you the opportunity to put in some good seats as well as a good deal more space between your knees and the lower instrument cluster.
The new Range Rover
Obviously the Range Rover is what he claims to be. But look at the price tag. And if you fancy the idea of buying one first try out the seats. Oh, the are electric-everything. But my wife-although not the tallest one- called them too short and uncomfy. The rest is up to the standard with the occasional switch giving up or light bulb burning out. All in all not bad. And apparently they made progress on built quality last year.
The most car-like interior in the whole line. Not too cramped, good seating position, good view all around, nice and bright, ugly cloth colors. However it's claimed they don't get easily dirty. I agree to this- some designs look already stained when new. The front offers enough leg room- but just. Still those very short seats. In the back enough space for baggage OR a dog. Under the dog is another lockable compartment for valuables. My dog didn't like it too much for the high belt line and the back seats prevented him from looking outside. So he always tried to climb a bit up the sides. I'm sure the cheap plastic will take a beating at this.
Decent instruments but not very legible. Big steering wheel with a seriously "plastic" feeling. Venting is ok but not more. Many small places to stash your usual goodies and papers but no real big glovebox. Bottle holder in the doors. No space designed for a fire extinguisher although the engineers must know that many european laws make them compulsary. Here it was mounted in the passenger's side footwell and was very uncomfortable. That's really a design flaw the engineer deserves a good slap for!
Functional cockpit, reasonably well laid out, a lot of plastic and an steering wheel some people call ugly (they've never seen the new Td5's steering wheel). Uncomfortable and not very durable seats, good view all around. Some had the removable bag in place of the center cubby box. A good idea on paper but not very practical in everyday use. After that they switched to a very cheap cubby box design. Later on the box got better. But fitting an aftermarket cubby box is still a good idea.
The 4 vents in the dashboard only provide cold air. I hate that. I enjoy having a nice warm stream of air on my fingers on cold winter mornings. Not a very good place for the radio also.
The Range Rover classic
Pictured above one of the latest models. Nice, luxury interior. Seats that had a long evolution and were then reasonably comfortable. But after all these years they still are too short. Maybe it's just an impression but I'm still uncomfortable on these. Still the center instrument cluster much the same as on the 1970 models. But that's ok. High seating position, deep belt line resulting in a very good view all around. You could live with this even if the woodwork tends to take age not too well. Folding armrests were always a good idea.