・Complete, running and driving ﹒Rare Suffix A Model’
The cult of the SUV may be an all-pervading thing in the modern world, but it’s worth remembering that the Range Rover essentially invented the genre way back in 1969. Sure, there had been large and rugged vehicles with pleasant interior appointments and off-road capabilities since the 1940s, but it was the iconic two-door Range that really took the idea and ran with it: a supremely capable all-terrain vehicle that was also stylish, comfortable, and well-appointed. It’s an idea that’s endured; the evidence is all around you in 2021, with a variety of different shapes and sizes of shiny new Range Rover on every street, and it’s this ongoing enthusiasm that’s really driving the keenness for the old-school forefather. Conceived and marketed as ‘a car for all reasons’, this inspired design could top out at 100mph, tow 3.5 tons, comfortably accommodate five adults (plus their dogs and/or hunting paraphernalia and picnic hampers), and climb over the most rugged terrain imaginable with remarkable aplomb. The crisp styling is widely lauded as a 20th century design icon, and demand for the early Suffix A cars is soaring.
The Range Rover we have here it’s what’s known as a ‘Suffix A’ – a handy nickname for the original 1969-72 Rangies which refers to the final letter of the VIN. (Models from 1973 had a B at the end of the VIN, hence ‘Suffix B’, and so on.) It’s a left-hand-drive export model – as confirmed by the ‘358’ code at the start of the VIN – and there are some key identifiers to those in the know that this is a 1972 model-year car; the square fuel filler cap was brought in for ’72, for example.
Resplendent in Sahara Dust paintwork, this Range Rover has recently been imported to the UK from the Netherlands. It’s a complete example, running and driving, with a very well preserved interior. (n.b. While it’s now located in south-west London, the Range Rover hasn’t yet been UK-registered, so the buyer will need to be aware of any applicable duties to pay when doing so.)
There isn’t a huge amount of documentation here, but crucially there are documents providing the VIN that proves its existence as a 1972 Suffix A. We can also see that its date of first registration in the Netherlands was October 18th 2000.
The cabin of this Range Rover is remarkably well preserved. The seats have very minimal wear considering the utilitarian roots of the machine; a couple of minor holes on the vinyl sides and a little fraying where the fabric meets the side frames, but on the whole very well presented. The carpets are similarly tidy – a few marks here and there, but all complete and should clean up nicely – and the same is true of the headlining. The doorcard trims are all in place – the lower panel on the passenger side is a little detached around the edges, but all the right bits are here. There are signs of usage wear to the door handles and gearstick, but again it’s all present and complete. The dash is in good condition with no signs of damage or cracking and, aside from the fitment of a modern stereo head unit, it’s all period-correct.
There’s a removable dog grille between the rear seats and the boot, which loosens and tightens freely. Inside the boot we find a spare wheel and some screwed-in wooden boarding. There is a hole where the boot floor has rusted through adjacent to the fuel filler neck, but aside from this it all appears solid in there.
As you might expect, the construction of a Range Rover is solid and rugged, with a box-section steel chassis beneath a steel frame clothed with Birmabright panels – an alloy of aluminium and magnesium. And while there’s a little of the inevitable corrosion here and there, this Suffix A appears largely decent: there’s the aforementioned hole in the boot floor, and a little surface corrosion inside the passenger door; we also find areas in the rear window surround, inside the tailgate and the engine bay, but overall it’s weathered the decades very well.
All of the window glass and light lenses are in place and in good condition; the bumpers, mirrors, rub strips and trim pieces all appear present and correct. The car is fitted with a tow hitch, and wears later 3-spoke alloy wheels in matching Sahara Dust.
The drivetrain in a Range Rover is formidable: you get an all-alloy 3.5-litre V8 with twin carbs, producing somewhere in the region of 130bhp with a stump-pulling 185lb.ft of torque. This is mated to an LT95 transmission which connects the four-speed manual and transfer box to a permanent four-wheel-drive system with diff locks.
The car starts and runs, idling evenly and maintaining a sensible temperature. We didn’t extensively road-test it, but can confirm that it’s a running and driving example that seems to have all the correct bits in place. It’s also worth noting that a fresh new sheet of soundproofing has been fitted inside the bonnet.
This is a Range Rover that provides a variety of opportunities. It’s pretty uncommon to happen across a ’72 Suffix A that’s all complete and running on the market today, and there are two distinct directions that a buyer may wish to take this car in. On the one hand, it could be a case of getting it UK-registered, tidying up the odd details and driving and enjoying it as it is. On the other hand, if a restoration is seen as the way forward, there’s a lot of originality that can be preserved here, particularly with the interior. Whichever route the buyer takes, this is a classic Range Rover with a huge amount of potential.
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