Classics World’s Jack Grover test drives and reviews the 1994 Range Rover Vogue…
I can remember when late-model Range Rover Classics were worth only slightly more than their scrap value. I saw many Vogues and Vogue SEs, once road-going luxury flagships that cost as much as a house, end their days in old quarries, landfill sites and brick pits as trials vehicles and off-road playthings. Many suffered under the angle grinder and cutting torch to be ‘Bobtailed’ – have their rear overhang cut back to stop it grounding out on uneven terrain.
Looking at the love, care and money that has been lavished on this 1994 Vogue SE (and the price tag that all that has resulted in) proves that those days are long gone. In fact, the previous owner spent more than £20,000 on it in the last 18 months alone! Having already refurbished an earlier Range Rover so it could be used as his daily driver, he decided he wanted something more comfortable and luxurious and so started all over again on this ‘soft dash’ Vogue SE.
To list the work the Vogue has had done to it would leave no space on this page for any other impressions, but it was extremely thorough. As well as a full service and a change of all fluids, virtually all the rubber bushes, hoses and belts were renewed. A total of £11,000 was spent on putting new metal into the chassis and body frame, including such infamous Range Rover rot-spots as the boot floor, rear floor and rear crossmember. The entire chassis and underbody was then treated with rust protection. The outer body panels and the alloy wheels were refurbished and repainted in a fresh coat of the original Aegean Blue paint.
Having completed this work last year the Vogue covered 3000 miles before the owner decided that he wanted to do up another example and sold on this ‘soft dash’. As well as all the work carried out recently, the Range Rover has a full history which details regular servicing by a combination of Range Rover dealers and independent specialists. During its 119,000 recorded miles, the Vogue has been serviced on average every 2200 miles.
ON THE ROAD
This was my first experience of a ‘soft dash’ Range Rover, and the majority of others I’ve been lucky enough to drive have been 1970s two-door models, which were much more utilitarian and ‘unpolished’ than the fully-evolved model here.
The clamber up onto the high and well-padded armchair-like seat is very familiar, as is the lofty driving position with an upright posture that has you surveying the acreage of the flat, square-nosed bonnet. Surrounded by Rover 800 instruments and switches, the ignition key quickly stirs the 3.9-litre fuel-injected V8 into life with the familiar rumble. But once idling the engine immediately retreats into the distance, like the throbbing of a car ferry’s machinery many decks below.
The air compressor runs a few cycles as the suspension adjusts itself and then kicks in only very occasionally, showing all the air bags and pipes are in good condition. The system also correctly finds its various different ride heights using the buttons on the dashboard. The ABS and traction control warning lights go off as they should and the air conditioning system blows nice and cold when asked. For what it’s worth, the transfer box also operated correctly.
The transmission selects ‘Drive’ and gets underway with total smoothness – not the slightest clonk or lurch. The torque converter is pretty slushy, with the Range Rover accelerating at low speeds with the engine revs staying almost constant. The gearchanges are almost imperceptible. And, even with 182bhp on tap, the Range Rover is not fast but is supremely effortless and relaxing in its progress.
The later Range Rover, with its changed role in life as a luxury saloon, has a very different ride to the early examples. The air suspension and anti-roll bars the size of bridge girders make it much more car-like, even if the vehicle’s size, weight and numb steering mean that it’s not one you really want to hustle. Maybe its bump absorption and secondary ride isn’t quite as good as an early model, but it is still very smooth and the small amount you lose in ride comfort is more than made up for in refinement. The car feels tight, proving that its running gear is in good condition. Range Rovers get very baggy when their many suspension bushes, anti-roll bar mounts and steering joints begin to age but there are zero signs of that here.
There are Range Rovers of a similar age and half the money advertised as ‘good restoration projects’. This must be one of the finest examples of its type on sale at the moment and if you bought it you could be sure that there would be no jobs, minor or major, that would need doing for the foreseeable future. As a comfortable and distinctive daily driver (just as the previous owner envisaged it) this Vogue would be superb. It would be a brilliant long-distance tow car. It would be a shame for this car to be shuttered away to preserve it when it has just been given a second life, but it would also make a literally shining example for a collector.
ENGINE: 3946cc V8
TOP SPEED: 109mph
0-60mph: 9.8 secs
GEARBOX: 4-sp auto