Classics World’s Paul Wager test drives and reviews the 1993 Range Rover 3.9 Vogue SE…
The first-generation Range Rover is one of those classic Range Rovers where the values are all over the place, presenting something of a conundrum for the potential purchaser. For example, you can happily spend well over £100,000 for one of Jaguar Land Rover’s own ‘Reborn’ remanufactured cars or one of Kingsley’s own beautifully-finished and neatly-updated two-doors but you can also find tired but presentable-looking mid-‘80s examples in the classifieds for under ten grand.
The puzzle is solved when you speak to someone who knows their stuff on Solihull’s finest and such a man is Damon Oorloff, the man behind Kingsley who I’ve always found to be a fountain of knowledge when it comes to Range Rovers.
As Range Rover experts will point out, the use of aluminium for the outer panels means that you can often come across very respectable-looking Range Rovers (and indeed Discoveries), which are in fact seriously rotten behind the scenes.
The underlying structure can be expensive to repair, which explains why it can often be more cost-effective in the long run to spend the money and buy a solid example from the people who know their way around these cars.
And that’s where this particular 1993 Vogue SE comes in. Priced a cut above the cheaper examples in the classifieds, it still represents a more affordable prospect than a freshly-restored example and comes with all the advantages of the later Range Rovers including the 3.9-litre injected V8 and updated dashboard, plus the automatic box.
It’s sometimes suggested by Range Rover buffs that the pick of the range is the late-model car which received all the technical updates but which immediately precedes the ‘soft dash’ model, and this is just such a vehicle.
Finished in Westminster Grey, it looks absolutely superb with excellent paintwork, having apparently received restoration work in the past. It’s certainly been done to a high standard and if I hadn’t known I would have simply assumed it was an ultra low-mileage survivor.
Inside, the leather-trimmed cabin is just as smart and again, belies the true mileage of just under 113,000. The improvements to trim, switchgear and detailing which were given to the Range Rover late in life really do make a difference and the cabin ambience is very different from the early two-doors or even the first of the four-door cars.
The chunky switches will be familiar to anyone who knows their mid-‘80s Rover products, but this was an era when the firm was becoming known for the distinctive style of its interiors and that’s no bad thing. Being the Vogue SE model, this example also benefits from a smattering of wood veneer trim which further lifts it from those rubber-matted early cars, while the electric seats also work perfectly and there’s the bonus of that much-missed ‘80s feature, the sunroof.
ON THE ROAD
The elevated driving position of the Range Rover was always one of its selling points and somehow they still feel unique even in a world where high-riding SUVs are commonplace. The Bosch-injected V8 fires instantly to that trademark woofling idle and with the chunky selector, Drive engages without clunks.
A squirt of gas sees the Range Rover come to life and against modern equivalents its 1930kg kerb weight isn’t huge, meaning the 185bhp makes it feel pretty sprightly. The long-travel coils give the classic Range Rover its familiar lolloping ride and although it will lean when taking roundabouts at speed, they’re a superb way to travel.
Mechanically, this one feels spot-on and it’s clearly a well-sorted example, driving to all intents and purposes much as it did when new. A quick look under the bonnet confirms that the V8 appears largely factory-standard, down to all the correct stickers in the engine bay.
The four-speed ZF automatic suits the Range Rover’s character well and is much nicer to use than the older four-speed manual box, with this example changing smoothly as you’d expect.
It’s not the cheapest Range Rover you’ll find, but by no means is it one of the more expensive either. For an example which is prepared to this standard and also so very usable, it represents a solid investment as prices of these vehicles climb ever upwards. If one of the remanufactured classic Range Rovers remains out of reach then this is a very appealing alternative. Meanwhile, if the idea of marrying the features of a late-model car like this with the style of the two-door body appeals, then Kingsley can also sort you out, beautifully built to a higher standard than they ever were by the factory. Me, I’d have been happy to take this one home.
Engine: 3947cc V8
Top speed: 106mph
Fuel consumption: 18mpg
Gearbox: 4 spd auto