It’s been rather a long time since I took up residency at the head of AROnline’s top table and, since then, I’ve been looking for a new project to keep me amused in between the long hours editing Classic Car Weekly and Modern Classics. In between offers of cheap Rover 75s, and high-mileage 600s, I’ve been trying to secure something different, something I’ve not owned before, and it’s been slightly more difficult than I had first anticipated.
Being honest, having a Citroen C6 as my main daily runner makes the task of being on the fleet a little bit of a thankless job. After all, that looks like no other car on the road, drives wonderfully, and cost me a tenth of the money it should do given how good it is – French presidents swear by no other vehicle. There is an Audi 90 knocking about in my fleet, which I’ve yet to commit to, so what I wanted from my AROnlinemobile was the ability to fit into my life, and not really overlap with my other cars. Plus, I have a dog, and she gets muddy.
So, this Freelander does actually fit in rather well. I wasn’t actually looking for one, it kind of found me, one day in the office. My colleague, Calum Brown, web producer for Classic Cars For Sale and a serial Land Rover nut, mentioned to me that he had a Freelander for sale. It didn’t really register – consciously – for a while, no doubt buried in the maelstrom of my daily grapple keeping the Audi running and fretting that my Citroen is going to break a turbo.
However, when it did click, I asked if I could have a look at the Freelander. Before I knew it, I’d knocked up a deal, and pretty much concurrently with waving goodbye to my MINI, I’d acquired a new Land Rover. Well, I say it’s a Land Rover, but this car has Rover Group-era DNA coursing through its veins and, from the moment you get in, you’re in a world of brittle plastics and angular mouldings that mark this out as a kissing cousin of the Rover 200/400 and 800.
I’ve literally just run a cloth over it, and established that it’s a BMW M47-powered TD4, with 93,000 miles on the clock, and a full service history – but, in truth, it feels like it’s led a hard life, rattling and clonking over anything resembling a normally pitted UK road. But it pulls well, stops in a straight line, and feels like it is going to be a great project – that is, there is going to be a lot to do. We’ve already ascertained that Mike Humble doesn’t like them very much – as he explained in this popular essay, it’s a hotbed of unreliability.
I’ve already started poking and prodding – there will be an update soon – but, overall, I like this car, and feel instantly at home in it. I will keep you posted about how it goes, and report on how the many fixes it’s undoubtedly going to need, in these pages. That I am so warm to it already, of course, wouldn’t be a big surprise given my ownership history. It’s nice to be back!