Blog : Say hello to the new AROnlinemobile

Keith Adams

Range Rover P38

Regular readers are no doubt getting a real sense of déjà vu when reading this post. If that’s you, then you’d be right in thinking that, because last year after coming back to run the site, I posted an identically-titled blog, in which I introduced our new and rather nice Land Rover Freelander.

Thanks to a change in circumstances and the fact that the rather nice (front-wheel drive) Freelander has been utterly reliable, I thought it was time to start living a little more dangerously. So, I’ve done something which no sane man of limited means should – and bought a Range Rover P38.

Now in my defence, it involves a deal with an unloved and disused Audi 90, and the car in question is coming via a work colleague who I know wouldn’t dream of doing me over. So I have reluctantly agreed to take on a great example of what is generally regarded to be the least reliable car ever to drive out of the Solihull factory. The good news for me is, of course, that Calum Brown – my amiable partner in crime – has serviced the car and promised that it’s ‘been sorted’, so what could possibly go wrong…

What indeed?

The car is quite interesting, though – and not just for its ability to catch fire or explode through merely crossing the road. It’s a fully-equipped HSE model, with air suspension, air conditioning, CD multi-changer and all the leather and wood you could possibly want in your luxury car. It’s also been retrimmed and remapped by legendary tuner Overfinch. All this means this 2.5 turbodiesel is now merely slow, as opposed to glacial – and that I’ll be enjoying the lap of luxury while I wait for the RAC man to come and bail me out.

In truth, I’m rather excited about owning a Range Rover again. Even if it’s the cheapest and least loved of the litter. Whatever you think about the P38, time has been kind to the styling, and once those orange indicators have been replaced, I think it’ll look rather timeless. Oh, and, like all Range Rovers, you get an imperious driving position, a uniquely relaxed driving experience and a feeling of serenity that few other cars come close to offering.

I’m sure it will be completely fine – and, although it’s not the Classic or L322 I’d always promised myself, there’s something very appealing about this underdog. I’m going to love it, I’m sure. Mind you, unlike Mike Humble’s new Rover 75 Connoisseur, which will no doubt be completely dependable, I’m sure we’re going to have lots of things (ie., failures) to write about.

No doubt I’ll keep you posted about how it goes.

Interestingly, in 2015, this was one of the cars I’d shown to illustrate my need for an
exciting new AROnlinemobile…

Keith Adams


  1. I remember the Land Rover Purchasing Project manager describing during launch it as the best vehicle Rover Group had yet built… Part of the problem might have been the typical one of demand far exceeding planned supply and hence stretching resources.

    Personally I’d have an Autobiography version with a diesel engine, painted bumpers, proper wood, leather, etc.

    I remember we did a P38 LE for Japan and one got nicked from the factory – being RHD it wouldn’t have stood out – I wonder whatever happened to it?

    (Anyone seen the new Roewe RX5 SUV – looks promising?)

    • Speaking of Chinese SUVs, I’ve seen images of the L322 based BAW B90, part Range Rover and part Cadillac Escalade.

  2. Stuff those moaners about the engine – an engine based on my driving school car can’t be bad 🙂 At least it will help you to relax even more.

    But, it has to be said, many people – including my trusted Citroën mechanic – would have said the same about unreliability, instant failures etc. about my Citroën XM. Which over 2 years and well over 20k miles proved utterly reliable with not a single break down.

    So, may be, with regular maintenance it will not be all that bad…

  3. Hello Keith,

    being a Reader of this site so many years now (since I had a Rover 600 which was rare here in Germany), a car guy and classic car Lover (actual Datsun 280 Z), I’d like to urge you:
    Keep the orange indicators! This Landy looks so classy and cool as it is, there’s no need to hunt what Germans call Zeitgeist (I did not found a Translation for it, sorry).
    All the best for your new Project!

  4. They do still look classy, mainly because the design is simple but elegant and still recognisably Range Rover.

    I hope that the L322 and L405 age as well, they started to get little modern styling details here and there.

  5. Pleased to hear that your bangernomics Freelander was reliable – good to hear a positive story about the Mk1 car.

    The P38 looks nice, orange indicators and all. Buying a sorted one from a trusted seller seems to be the only way to go with these cars. Have browsed ebay for these in the past and there are some horrors out there.

  6. It’s a nice looking example of a nice looking car. Why is it that each successive model of RR after the Classic and the 38 became progressively more hideous ?

    PS do you know the difference between a Range Rover and a hedgehog ?

  7. I remember hearing that joke back in 1984 when the lads from Auf Wiedersehein, Pet were renovating an old manor in Derbyshire.

  8. I think people are too harsh on the P38 for its build quality – back in 1994 it was considered a revelation in that department compared to the Classic. Sure its taken BMW (and later, Ford) a good couple more decades to educate Solihull how to build cars with fit and finish worthy of their £40k+ price tags but everything is relative at the end of the day.

  9. They were all pretty ropey, but the 2.5 Diesel was terrible new and has not improved with time. I can see the appeal of most of the underdogs you bring home, but this one wants to be taken to the vet and humanely destroyed.

  10. Redefines electricity into electrickery. Spent many *happy* hours chasing electrical gremilins on P38s never mind the puddles of oil on the drive (how do you know if you RR is short of oil — it stops leaking).

    Oh, make sure the wheels are not corroded to the hubs. Always coat the inside of the alloys with copperslip where they contact the hub when refitting. How do I know this? 😉

    Lots of good bits about the RR including the driving position but if you manage to crack 30mpg do let us know.

  11. I’very just discovered this site
    And it tells me that your new toy was registered in Maidstone.

  12. Meh. I still think it looks like a hideous concoction of BMW estate, Talbot Horizon and a Metrocab.

    And diesel as well…

  13. I have one at the moment along with an XJ40, some may say a glut for punishment but they both have the same basic issue, quite advanced cars for the period at the rock bottom of their value and many have been looked after accordingly..
    EAS wise change the O rings in the valve block (£20 and about an hour and half) jack up and check the bags at full extension because they perish in the fold leading to slow leaks and eventually a failed compressor (£60 per corner if dead) see how long the compressor takes to move you up form different positions it should be fairly instant on the first couple of changes, if not change the piston seal (£30..) I like to use that as an example of how these things sometimes don’t deserve the reputation of money pits.

  14. When these first came out, i didn’t really like them.
    I mean that i prefered the design of the Range Rover Classic. However, after all those years my view upon them has matured significantly. I must say that in my eyes now the styling is simple and elegant, in great contrast with the “white elephant” L332. Not only it is the last Range Rover to have proper axles, these are properly located, making it superior to the Classic. The air suspension is not a problem at all once you understand that it has certain consumables, and the air springs are among them.

  15. Chanced upon the AR site by chance earlier this week and I am especially interested in the P38 comments and how Keith gets on with it……. Cos I bought one myself just a couple of months ago! A 2.5DSE – 2001 (so I already have the ‘right’ indicators. So far so good and what a lovely place to be. Keith’s description of the driving position as ‘imperious’ is just right. I will quote it always.

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