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Are Some Old Land Rover Models Best Forgotten?

Many an enthusiast for four-wheel drive vehicles like Land Rovers will see the sight of a used and old model as a challenge they will take on with relish. Even if it has clear signs of weathering and wear and tear, or is even in pieces and needs putting back together like a Meccano kit, there is someone who will look for 4×4 spare parts to get it back on the road (or in a muddy field).

However, some might question whether this is always such a good idea. True, there are some vintage models out there with a cult following in some circles, but others might just be worth passing on.

This, at least, is the view of Hot Cars. Noting the long waits for new models amid recent semiconductor shortages, it suggested now is a good time to look for a used model, but advised caution.  It listed ten used models that it considers anything but hot – although so scathing is it about some that it seems one might as well set them alight.

The Discovery L462, which is actually still in production, is one it noted had five recalls, noting problems with its “exterior lighting, electrical system, and even engine failure, all of which increase the risk of a crash”. The aesthetics were not exactly praised either, with the asymmetrical tailgate design proving “divisive”.

Poor performance is an issue with a number of the models featured in the article. The 1994-2001 Range Rover P38A was highlighted as being notoriously unreliable, while the 1998 Land Rover Defender TD5 suffered from cracking cylinder heads and “dual mass flywheel failure”.

The list goes on. 2005 was clearly not a good year as air suspension and transmission issues let down the 2005 Range Rover Sport L320, while the Land Rover Discovery 2005 LR3 had a lot of exciting electrical components, which unfortunately didn’t work very well. Both air suspension issues and electrical component failings dogged the 2002 Range Rover L322.

Also in the list, electrical issues and gearbox problems dogged the 2011 Range Rover Evoque, along with the observation that: ”maintenance was often taken less seriously compared to the regular Range Rover.” Ouch. Engines were the biggest problem for the MK1 Land Rover Freelander, launched in 1997, especially gasket issues. 

The 2014 Land Rover Discovery Sport was criticised for its handling issues, while the 2016 Range Rover Evoque’s fold-away roof came at the cost of reduced storage and a lot of extra weight that impeded performance and handling.

All this suggests that there are plenty of used Land Rovers out there that could bring some regrets for new buyers, even with a few new parts. 

This may also sound unnecessarily negative, but that isn’t the full picture; there have also been plenty of reviews out there in the motoring press plugging the best used Land Rovers too. For example, in 2021 Autocar produced its own best top ten, including the likes of the Freelander Softback, Range Rover Sport or Land Rover Discovery Series 1.

So if you fancy getting an old Land Rover and fixing it up with some spare parts, choose carefully, for not all are made equal.

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