has a Range
snicked the auto selector into|
'D', pressed my foot to the
floor... and the seat back
clouted me between the
shoulder blades. With just the hint of
a growl from the engine the speedo
needle wound itself round with
Surprising, because I was
sitting in a Discovery. Or was it
a Range Rover?
To be honest, I'm not really sure.
No, Barker hasn't flipped because I
reckon you would be just as
confused, whether you saw this
special machine from the outside or
from one of its comfortable seats.
Other drivers see in their rear
view mirror a blue Range Rover
approaching rapidly from behind,
transforming itself Frankenstein-like
into a Discovery as it whispers past.
It's the same inside. The seats and
fittings are Range Rover, and there's
no mistaking the Range Rover
bonnet standing proudly alongside
lesser mortals. But surely the shell is
Discovery? They never made a
Range Rover with the stepped-up
roofline, did they?
As we hustled our way through
the traffic I learned all about it,
relieved to find I wasn't in the
middle of a Boddington's-induced
hallucination. This very special
vehicle has proved a dream-come-
true for its owner, Dennis Shepherd,
managing director of the Jade Press|
Group. He likes roomy, comfortable
cars, with plenty of power on hand
when needed. But he had never
tried Land Rovers until his son,
Darren, acquired a Discovery TdiS
and the advantages of four-wheel
drive soon bccame apparent. Dennis
borrowed the Discovery for camping
trips and found he was able to reach
campsite parts other vehicles
couldn't. He liked the space and
seating, too, but wasn't sure about
which vehicle would suit him best.
Test drives in a Range Rover and
another Discovery failed to convince
him. Then, two years ago, he saw
something a little different, tried it
out... and here I was playing with it.
As I said, it's a Range Rover at
the front - well, grille and bonnet -
and the rest of the exterior is
Discovery. Look inside and it's
Range Rover again, with full Vogue
interior, seats. dash and door trim.
And hiding away beneath the
bonnet is a very special package
topped off with a 4.5-litre V8, giving
ample power and performance.
Appropriately enough, it's called
It was originally built by Brian
Slingsby of Four Plus 4 (formerly
Rover Plus) in Leeds, to combine
the better features of both Discovery
and Range Rover with a bit of extra
indulgence for good measure.
He took a rolling chassis from a|
rolled-over Range Rover, and fitted
new ABS axles with vented front
brakes. Leaving the original Range
Rover front, bonnet and wings in
place, he married a Discovery
five-door body and front bumper
to the mix.
Inside the Discovery bodyshell
went a Range Rover Vogue interior
- dash, front and rear seats - leaving
the two Discovery occasional seats
in the back, re-trimmed in matching
Vogue door trims, including Range
Rover door lights, and matching
carpets throughout were fitted.
Further touches of luxury included
air conditioning, CD autochanger.
leather-rimmed steering wheel and a
heated front windscreen.
The engine bay treatment was just
as special. The package was: normal
Range Rover V8 3.9 'hotwire'
engine, bored and stroked to 4.5
litres, gas-flowed heads and ports for
extra performance, and modified
ECU for better fuelling and
improved rev range.
The engine was originally mated
to a five-speed gearbox and viscous-
coupled transfer box. When Dennis
bought the vehicle, this was changed
Handling and ride comfort were
improved with Land Rover Genuine
Parts front and rear anti-roll bars.