A number of high-end car companies have been in the restoration business for a while now. For example, Ferrari with their Classiche Certified program will take in old cars made in Maranello, and restore them to showroom condition. Range Rover has jumped into this game, with a factory restored 1978 three-door Range Rover Classic that will be shown in Paris at Salon Rétromobile 2017.
I guess what would make this odd is how it’s a truck company doing it this time.
Most of this factory retro stuff is preserve of people like Rolls Royce and Porsche. Mercedes-Benz, for example, goes so far as to say they have, or will make, parts for every car they have ever manufactured; back to and including their three-wheeled Patent-Motorwagen, the car that started it all.
Even more odd is the fact that third-party companies have been in the truck rehab and remanufacture game for a while now. There’s been this outfit in SoCal that goes by the name of Icon, as an example. They essentially take old Toyota Land Cruisers and remanufacturer them better than new. Really, their work is truly outstanding. The level of it makes seemingly anyone consider buying one of their trucks, until you look at the price, which is somewhere around the cost of a new Ferrari.
Whether any of this played into the corporate decision to get into the factory-resto business, Range Rover does not say. They do say the upcoming reveal in Paris of the factory-restored 1978 three-door Range Rover Classic is all part of their Reborn programme by Land Rover Classic. Yes, that’s “programme” with a superfluous m+e, and yes Reborn is a maddeningly pretentious name. But they both kind of fit the product, no?
The Range Rover Reborn program (with one “m” and no “e” you limey lobsterbacks) offers potential customers the prospect to purchase a “new” vintage Range Rover direct from the company itself. The team of experts at Land Rover Classic have drawn on decades of engineering and design experience to complete this first ride in the Range Rover Reborn agenda, a 1978 Classic Range Rover.
The 1978 Range Rover comes in Bahama Gold, which is a clever marketing way of saying sand-colored beige/tan/brown. It’s not a bad shade, and it is original, but it’s still beige/tan/brown, which is a horrid color to make work on a vehicle.
This beige colored box is propelled down the road and/or trail by a fully rebuilt 3528cc V8 engine. This is the same aluminum alloy V8 that Rover has used for decades, and, if I’m remembering this right, the British bought from Buick for a song back in the 1960s. My cousin Mike had a mid-60s Buick Special he got from his grandparents (Ed and Gladys) fitted with this engine, and it was a total sweetheart. Revved like the business and got great gas mileage.
Of course Buick got rid of it.
Who needs a small, efficient engine when you got things like nailhead mills pouring out of the Hamtramck plant like so many Polish sausages?
Anyway, in original (and now refurbished) Range Rover guise, this engine, fitted with a Zenith-Stromberg 175CD type carb, cranks out 132 horsepower at 5,000rpm and 186 lb-ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm. All of the power and grunt is put to the tarmac, ground, peat bog, or semi-gravel track via a 4-speed manual transmission with a lockable central differential.
The company goes on to say the “new” 1978 Range Rovers will undergo a complete restoration to the 1970s factory specs using Land Rover Classic Parts to preserve and protect authenticity. They make no mention if the Rovers will be returned to the factory levels of build quality and reliability of the 70s, but they can’t be that sadistic, can they? If you decide you have to buy one of these new/old Range Rovers, Land Rover’s restoration team will guide you through the best options in terms of collectability, preferred chassis numbers, and unique characteristics.
Cost? Well, completed Range Rover Reborn restorations from Land Rover Classic will start at £135,000 GBP, or around $150,000 USD. Which is, jeepers creepers, a lot of green. But what do I know? If old Range Rovers are your thing, I’m not going to argue with you.
Salon Rétromobile 2017 runs February 8th through the 12th.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.