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The only place for a coil spring is up Zebedee's arse.
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Joined: Jun 17 2018
Posts: 102

This September we will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of our beloved P38..

A model maligned for being "too complicated" the old duchess after a long while is finally being appreciated, a model often bypassed for the L322 and classic.

Often completely ignored, the limelight has finally been passed.

Looking at the iconic bodywork it may not seem like 25 years since the first Range Rover P38a was launched. Taking its unusual name from the number of the building where it was developed at Solihull, the P38a had big boots to fill thanks to its role as successor to the Range Rover Classic.

With its angular bodywork, it looked rather classic from the start, while the front headlamps had become rectangular and housed within an imposing grille, it still looked "classic"

The P38a received mixed reviews, it was a remarkable off-road as we know despite its hefty dimensions and emphasis on refined luxury. The P38a defied the age-old thinking that in order to successfully traverse difficult topography you somehow had to compromise on comfort and features that make day-to-day driving more pleasurable.

Comfort and performance

With the P38a, you could literally climb mountains while kicking back in comfort on the best seats the motoring industry had to offer. Pair that up with air conditioning, an expensive stereo and premium trim you had the perfect off-road vehicle!

The motoring press eagerly lapped up the chance to test the new Range Rover whenever they could. Advertisements showed the P38a driving through a brick wall as if it simply wasn’t there and Land Rover keenly demonstrated their new height-adjustable air suspension, which now came as standard.

Sales were strong, but every now and then, there was a grumble that it wasn’t the original Range Rover, now commonly referred to as the Classic – Land Rover simply took the fact that their initial offering had stolen hearts so effectively, as a compliment, as this affection temporarily blinded some to the technological advances in the P38a.

Unfortunately, the P38a hit some bad press with some electrical niggles, resulting in the model temporarily carrying a somewhat undeserved reputation for poor reliability. However, with some time and patience, the vast majority of those issues are now understood and are able to be remedied with relative ease.

As the P38a gains its classic status, there is a renewed appreciation for its impressive capabilities on and off-road, as well as its remarkable comfort levels and that perceivably charismatic persona.

Now of course I could of posted this in september, but chances are I would of forgotten..

Anyway an early Birthday to our P38's the Best RR by Far ;)

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Joined: Mar 14 2017
Posts: 290

I will be making sure that this fact is mentioned in my magazine article for september. So long as it makes it to print...

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Joined: Jul 12 2016
Posts: 857

Smiler wrote:

I will be making sure that this fact is mentioned in my magazine article for september. So long as it makes it to print...

Which magazine is that?

The editor of LRO was at our event on Sunday and I mentioned to him that I only buy the issues that have P38's in them. He then said that there's probably lots more people like me that do that and asked if he could take some photos of me taking mine around the off road course so he could show one going off road without needing any modifications.

He's asked me to put together a few words about my car to go with the photos. I'll work in a mention of our forum here and the 25th birthday too :)

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Joined: Sep 14 2016
Posts: 360

In retrospect a pretty good case could be made for the P38 being "peak comfy 4x4" from a users perspective. Far as I can see all the later vehicles in this market segment, whether made by Land Rover or others, seem to have just added scads of expensive, unreliable pseudo refinements which don't make any realistic difference to real world performance or how well the vehicle actually does its job. They are not even seriously less thirsty. About the only place modern does seem to win out is in the communications and entertainment side of things. Unsurprisingly given the major and fundamental changes in that area since the P38 was conceived. But the android in-dash tablets sort that pretty well. Must get round to fitting one.

Like anything made by man, or woman, the P38 has weaknesses and imperfections but everything is documented and pretty much all are fixable without lunatic costs. I still reckon that £7,000 ish in one hit will cover a do-it-all, set the clock back to nominal zero ready to just go use it with routine servicing for another 150,000 miles. Nothing else you can do that sort of mid life improvement programme on. (Series Landys and Defenders do not count. Not even with a lifetimes supply of ear plugs and air cushions!) Heck I'm not sure that there is anything comparable out there that you could drop £10,000 (ish) off E-Bay or AutoTrader and expect to do 150,000 miles on without hitting mega expenses on the way. Assuming it doesn't rot out somewhere vital first. Given BLs well known paint line issues the P38 is unreasonably durable.

No doubt that, in general, P38 parts are inexpensive. Even without plumbing the shoddy depths of blue bag and "who they" suppliers.

I suspect that few folk realise what a tour-de-force the oft, unfairly, maligned BECM is in both design and execution. Marty does, I have some idea but as for the general car bashing public.... Given that the overall concept is, and always has been, pretty much unique on a mass production vehicle and the number of ways such device could have gone seriously pear shaped its an amazing achievement on the limited BL budget. Plenty of other BECM and similar systems from more respected sources have proven to be fragile with surprisingly short lifetimes leading to cars being scrapped because spares can't be got. Hi Mr Mercedes!

Although I'm resolute in my belief that the 4 speed with lock-up TorqueFlight is peak auto-box (especially with a warmed over Chrysler Canada Mopar in front) if you want it to just work over mega miles our ZF 4HP boxes come pretty close. Just enough added electronics and engine ECU interlinking to be useful. Not enough to get fragile or perplexing if things go wrong. Wonder what lunatic thought putting the electronics inside the later ZF boxes was a good idea. Probably the genius who dumped the dipstick.

OK a few more ponies and a bit of attention to the inherent dipsomania would be nice. But I guess 2 tons of 4x4 with the aerodynamics of a small house is always going to be on the thirsty side. When you consider the money Leyland dropped on the irredeemably flawed Triumph Stag V8 you have to wonder what could have been done if it had been spent on the Rover V8. Given the emissions issues I'm always surmised how band aid solutions were adopted throughout BMC/BL et al rather than biting the bullet and re-designing cylinder heads to suit an EFI world. Worked adequately well on the Jaguar V12 after all despite the seriously compromised design layout. Popping a 4 valve head on a Rover block would be pretty trivial in comparison, could give it stepped liners while they were at it too. Guess its the old pushrods are out of date attitude. It really is a shame that the BMW money went into the L323 rather than doing a Mark 2 P38. Properly.

Or maybe not given BMW engineering ability to get a lot of the hard stuff right then totally crap things up on something unrepairable. VANOS anyone. Or that external oil pipe right at the back of the V8.

Clive

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
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Clive603 wrote:

In retrospect a pretty good case could be made for the P38 being "peak comfy 4x4" from a users perspective. Far as I can see all the later vehicles in this market segment, whether made by Land Rover or others, seem to have just added scads of expensive, unreliable pseudo refinements which don't make any realistic difference to real world performance or how well the vehicle actually does its job. They are not even seriously less thirsty. About the only place modern does seem to win out is in the communications and entertainment side of things

Couldn't agree more Clive. Rather than surface sensing computerised systems, like hill decent control, it would have been far cheaper for Land Rover to send every buyer on a free day at their off road school, all the later systems do is take the thinking out of it. So rather than the driver actually driving the car, the car makes the decisions and sets things as it sees fit. Then the driver gets into what he thinks is an unstoppable car until the day he tries something really stupid expecting the car to sort things out for him and it doesn't.

As for the communications and infotainment side of things, you've only got to look at a few ads for modern cars. They don't push any important aspects, they push the fact that it will integrate with your iPhone. Fine now, but what happens in 10 years time when people have realised that Apple products are a case of marketing over substance and Android has been overtaken by something else? The infotainment system will be as obsolete as the CD based sat nav, analogue TV tuner and no DAB or satellite radio fitted to the early L322. As it is integrated with the dash, you can't even easily swap it like you could on something earlier with a simple single or double DIN hole where you can update to whatever is current at the time.

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Joined: Jul 12 2016
Posts: 857

I do like my P38 (a LOT) but I know a couple of people that have now moved on to the L322. Each of them were die hard P38 fans that owned multiple P38s at once.

They both say that the L322 is better in every way and they wish they'd moved on years ago.

I've never been in an L322 and kinda don't want to based on their experiences. I know I can't afford one so I don't want to know what I'm missing!

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Joined: Mar 14 2017
Posts: 290

I have also never been in an L322 but I can't help thinking that the change in priorities would come through too much. The thing I love about driving the P38 is the fact that you still feel like you are driving a vehicle designed to fullfill a purpose. It is still a rugged truck as it were. I have a feeling that the later models with there obviously on road performance biased independent suspension set-ups are going to feel more car like. In my odd mind the L322 was when Land Rover admitted that the Range Rover had become a life style accessorie as oposed to a vehicle for touring the country estate and towing horse boxes and thus, the purpose built Chelsea Tractor was born.

Oh, RutlandRover, it's Practical Performance Car (yes, I know. Mines a diesel too...).