Your experience seems to mirror mine. I had slight reservations about buying any P38 because of the 'reputation' that it had earned since 1994. However, having always loved its development from the classic (which I love for it's purity of style but dislike because of its 'agricultural experience') and having owned (and re-chassised) 3 Series 3 LRs, and had a yr 2000 Disco for 3 years, I thought I'd take a closer look.
After looking at 8 vehicles of varying condition, I concluded that:
- P38s do not appear to rust anywhere nearly as bad as previous (or contemporary) LR products.
- The EAS is no where near as troublesome as some would have you believe.
- The majority of issues can be resolved if you are half decent with a spanner.
- 5 inches of suspension lift allowed reasonable access underneath..
- In the UK at least, parts were not extortionate and pretty well provided for.
- A really decent support network exists (Thanks all!)
Like you also, I spent the first month of ownership going over the obvious (rad, hoses, water pump, viscous fan, oil and filters - engine and gearbox, rebuilding the EAS compressor and fitting new front shocks). I also invested £150 having a good local LR specialist giving the old girl a once over to confirm my feelings on the car.
In 5000 miles, other than replacing a front wheel hub (identified by the LR specialist) I have been delighted with the ownership experience.
I am lucky that she is not my only car, but as several folk on here have said, at some point I accept that I may need to spend big money on the engine etc but having only cost what I consider to be peanuts initially, I think I can still end up with a reliable and very useable 10-15 yr car for an investment of under £10k.