The Armchair Outfitter

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Rover-haul: Part 1

May 10th, 2009 · 5 Comments

The name Land Rover may not spring immediately to mind when folks in the U.S. think of an off-road vehicle. After all, you are far more likely to see Rovers in a mall parking lot or outside a fancy restaurant. Be that as it may, a 2003 Land Rover Discovery has served me well as my primary hunting and fishing vehicle for the last few years. The following photo from a trail ride will attest that it has been used for its originally intended purpose.


The Sporting Wife and I attempted that particular mudhole three times before being winched out. Were we not on street tires, I feel certain we would have made it. A tractor sunk to the axles in the same hole was not so lucky. In our defense, we put the headlights underwater before we gave up on it.

The Sporting Wife will have to take credit for the Land Rover purchase. I had a 1995 Jeep Wrangler with B.F. Goodrich Radial Mud Terrains on it that carried us many happy miles when we lived further north, but when we made our permanent migration to the sea, I had to take a job that came with an hour commute each way. The tires were brutal at highway speed, my factory soft-top was starting to disintegrate, and the last straw for the missus, the air conditioning went out completely. After watching me struggle under the dash trying to replace the fan motor, she asked, “Is there not any vehicle that would induce you to trade in that Jeep?” I jokingly said, “Sure, a Land Rover,” and by golly she found one and made the deal. After about an hour of negotiation and paperwork at the dealership, I purchased my first British motorcar.

Here she is enjoying our purchase:


Even on the street tires, we drove out of that muck. The Landy, as our British friends call them, is a shockingly capable off-road vehicle. Do the words “full-time four wheel drive” give you any idea what I’m saying? I don’t mean an “all-wheel drive” system where the fronts or rears will engage when the other wheels start to slip, I mean all four tires are engaged and turning all the time. This is the case even on pavement, so gas mileage suffers and tire wear is accelerated accordingly. With a curb weight of 4,853 pounds, it is not exactly sprightly. That said, it walks across obstacles I used to blast through in my Jeep. Sure, I’ve heard jokes like this one: A group of Land Rover owners and a group of Jeep owners met at the trailhead. One of the Landy drivers said to a Jeep owner, “You shall follow us on the trail.” The Jeepster quickly replied, “Then we will follow a trail of the finest British motorcar parts and fluids.”


We didn’t get out of this hole without help, but after all, we were sitting on the frame. Even the mighty Wrangler couldn’t have overcome that one. My personal experience with the “Disco,” as Rover types call the Discovery models, has been overwhelmingly positive. Sure, repairs are horrendously expensive, but this is a vehicle I can see myself keeping for a long time. Those leather seats are comfy after a long day on the deer stand, and the wood dash inlay provides a great smooth surface for spreading out a topo map. Seriously, I don’t guess I need a lot of the features of my Disco, but they sure are nice to have in a vehicle that is also rock solid off the pavement.

A parking lot accident has me needing to repair the brush guard and front bumper. The S.W. drove the Rover to work one day, as she is wont to do, and someone backed into her at a pretty good clip. Incidentally, the damage to the Rover is barely noticeable, and the other vehicle looks like it centered a telephone pole. Rather than use the exorbitantly expensive factory replacement parts and pay the stealership for labor, I’ve opted to go with an integrated ARB bull bar and winch bumper. I would also install a Warn winch, but the insurance money would not have covered it, and I didn’t try to gouge them. Take that, lawyer-haters! I’ll post pics of the install as I go.

Tags: 4WD and Off-road

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Theresa // May 12, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Great item about the Rover. However, the words that hit me the hardest were: “our permanent migration to the sea”. That word ‘permanent’ is pretty permanent. Don’t like it one little bit!!! But, as long as y’all are happy…… I guess I can live with yearly visits…..I guess I can.

  • 2 armchairoutfitter // May 12, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Hey, what can I say? The sea is either in your blood, or it isn’t, and there’s not much you can do about it either way. As long as the hurricanes don’t get us, I guess we’ll be sticking tight as barnacles. We’ll put the crab traps out in preparation for a boil anytime you want to come, and the shrimp and oyster boats unload about 5 miles from here. We can go spot ‘gators in the Mobile Delta, or just watch the pink cotton candy clouds at sunset off the back porch . If I took a picture every evening out my back door for a year and e-mailed them all to you, you’d be ready to move too. I was born farther north, but I can’t help an accident of geography. This is home.

  • 3 Theresa // May 18, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Home??? No, I don’t think so. Great place to live for a while, but …forever??? Please tell me it’s not so. Well, maybe it could be. How do y’all feel about a decrepit ole woman enjoying the seafood and beautiful vistas with you in her latter years??? Got an extra bedroom??? She can cook and will clean – when absolutely necessary.

  • 4 armchairoutfitter // May 18, 2009 at 1:49 pm

    What about poor Uncle Greg, Mr. “I Don’t Care if I Ever See the Beach Again?”

  • 5 Theresa // May 21, 2009 at 4:59 pm

    Hmmm, have to think about that. We could call him once a week couldn’t we???

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