News that Swiss Mike had swapped himself a ‘Nonego‘ to play with was welcomed by myself, as I’ve not been too enamoured with his last two projects. Both cars were too flawed in the go and steer departments for those of us who take the time to don a pair of kangaroo-hide gloves before take-off.
Anyway, as I commuted into work the other morning, I was thinking about what it is that makes grown men get excited over leak-free rocker covers – Mike was busy texting me pictures – when I remembered all the trouble we used to have in the Service Department with the old state-funded S-Series.
While I was doing a spot of low-flying in my new-to-me Freelander-2, I was thus lamenting about how my current steed was more Mondeo than Montego (he who pays the bill, bangs the drums), when the sabre-rattle of Old Mother Heritage hit me hard and took me back a couple of decades. Over this particularly fast but undulating section of commuter route, I can get any vehicle airborne on one kinked-up roundabout. You name it, from a Freight-Rover to a Ford Ranger, all vehicles in my possession have been tested on this stretch of perimeter road.
However, until now, nothing emitted such a Godawful clang as the Maestro/Montego chassis did when those long-travel front struts reached the limit of their rebound as they crested this roundabout. That vicious, heart-stopping clang as the customer’s car left the ground was a distant but distinct memory – one which had come to dominate my life as an apprentice at the ARG garage. I repeated these ‘clangs’ many hundreds of times later when running company Maestro vans and cars and the ‘clang’ never got any nicer although I came to realise they weren’t destroying the car.
Early on this particularly beautiful summer’s morning, I was heading east as-swift-as-you-like learning my Freelander 2. Can you can image the gut-wrenching realisation that somethings never change as I got a particularly good ‘Banditesque’ lift-off which was instantly followed by the ghost-of-LC10 Clang? It was like being smacked in the gut as the off-side lower arm bashed metal with the subframe and I was back to being a teenager in a Nonego on test.
Every other manufacturer in the world can get a strut to draw softly to a stop at full stretch, yet there must be a Chassis Engineer deep in Solihull, who is willfully engineering-in such an uncouth CLANG. This engineer will be easy to identify I’d imagine. He’ll be caught in a 1970s timewarp of long hair, heavy metal, have a brazier wedged into his locker and a donkey jacket on the back of his chair.
The New Romantic movement will have passed him by. I mean how else can Land Rover, exponents of the long-travel coil spring, still persevere with such a hindrance to swift and serene progress?