1982 Wood & Pickett Range Rover – Project Profile

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By Chris Pollitt

You’re still staring at it, aren’t you? It’s like some sort of optical illusion with that extra set of rear wheels. The automotive equivalent of one of those portrait pictures with two sets of eyes and two mouths, which send your head into a spin as you try and process it. It’s the vehicular uncanny valley. It looks like a Range Rover, but it’s not. But at the same time, it’s got some serious ‘Tonka’ appeal with its chunky tyres, flared arches and many, many wheels. We dig it. It’s definitely got potential. 

This isn’t a curious ‘home brew’ machine, cooked up by some lunatic with a welder in his shed. No, this is a proper thing, built by the consistently unrestrained Wood & Pickett. 

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Bill Wood and Les Pickett formed Wood & Pickett Ltd in 1947, based out of Becketts Yard in Willesden – a space they rented from Park Ward. To form a coachbuilding company in 1947 was something of a strange move, given that the industry was largely building its own bodies by this point. However, Bill and Les weren’t interested in building ‘normal’ bodies for ‘normal’ cars. Instead, they wanted to build the wild, the incredible and the hitherto unimaginable. Over the years, the company would build many vehicles. The Mini would be a popular choice for varying styles of conversion, as would the Range Rover. Some were stretched, some were made convertibles, while others were, as we can see, fitted with more than the originally prescribed number of wheels. 

What is it? 

This vehicle started life as a 1982 Range Rover Classic. However, it was sent to Wood & Pickett while the paint was still wet, and left with instructions to convert it to a six-wheeler. We’re not sure how the conversion was done exactly, but it seems to have been done to a good standard. They were coachbuilders after all. The rearmost wheels are, for lack of a better way of putting it, decorative. They’re not a part of the driveline, and are instead passive in their rotation. Wood & Pickett would convert these things to be six wheel-drive apparently, but that’s not what this owner went for. That would have been a bit too much. Ahem. 

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Powered by a V8 engine mated to an automatic transmission, it’s all typical Ranger Rover stuff underneath that long body. The modifications are mainly from the C pillar back, where you will find two sets of side glass on either side, and of course, extra wheel arches and wheels. Some of these conversions featured a new front end made of Rover SD1 parts, though this one escaped that, thankfully. 

Why is it a project? 

This magnificent Range Rover was last on the road in 1996, so it needs a fair bit of work in order to bring it back. However, don’t fret. It’s not been sat idle for all that time. Quite the opposite, in fact, as a great deal of work has been done. In 2016, it was partially restored, which included a respray and some work to the chassis. The engine has been fitted with an Edelbrock carb to give it a bit more power. Oh, and the current owner has fitted six new tyres – that’s a big saving right there! 

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A functional one, to get you going!

There is still work to do, of course. The rear bumper and bumper hangers need attention, there is some rot in the footwells which will need to be sorted out, and the engine does run, but only from a gravity feed. Ideally, it’s going to need a new fuel pump as a minimum. The interior is a little bare, with no headlining in place, and it all needs a bit of a clean and tidy up. The body, while repainted, has blown out in some areas, so will need attention (roof and bonnet according to the vendor), and the handbrake isn’t connected. It sounds like it’s all simple nuts and bolts stuff though, and certainly work you could tackle at home. As long as you have a driveway long enough, that is. 

Five things to look for: 

1) Rust

Yes, the body has been repainted, but that doesn’t stop the Range Rover from being a hotbed for corrosion. Check the floors, the sills, the bulkhead, the roof and all the pillars.

2) Chassis

The chassis is literally the backbone of this long lad, so check the condition of it. The vendor states it’s been looked after, which is great news. But still have a look for yourself to be sure.

3) Engine

The V8 runs off a gravity feed of fuel, so we know it needs a fuel pump. But what else? Does it sound healthy? Are there any obvious leaks, noises or rattles? Does it get hot? Parts are easy to find, but it’s still better to know, going in, what might be needed. 

4) Conversion

Wood & Pickett was a proper company, so we’re sure the conversion was done to a good standard. However, has anyone bodged it over the following years? There is no repair book for this, so it may well have been subjected to all manner of sub-par repair work. 

5) History

Cars like this weren’t bought by the many, they were bought by the eccentric few. Have a look through the history and see what this six-wheeler has been up to. There may well be some surprising discoveries to be made. 

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What should you do with it? 

Let’s be honest, a car like this has niche appeal. As such, if you do buy it, you’re buying it for you. With that in mind, there is no reason to restore it to how it once was. You could have some fun with it. What about making the rear quarters into a camper of some sort? Or, how about using it as a promotional vehicle of some description? It would also make a brilliant support truck for a classic race or rally car. If you put your mind to it, there are so many things this brilliantly weird vehicle could do. But first, you need to buy it…

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