From the front it's a Range Rover, from
the back it's a Discovery (right). The
hardest part of the conversion is
matching the rear three quarter panel
with the side swage line of the Range
Rover (bottom left). Seating is for
seven (far right) with a mix of Range
Rover and Discovery interior. Most
popular engine to date has been the
Mazda 3.5 litre intercooled turbo
Discovery or Range Rover?
Nick Dimbleby samples a
hybrid with a difference
and is very impressed
AS THE Range Rover became old enough to
chop up at home, a completely new Land
Rover was born. Called the 'hybrid', it had
the chassis and running gear from the Range
Rover, mated to the body and interior of a
Land Rover. Hybrids of this ilk are
immensely popular amongst the off-road
fraternity, as they are extremely capable off-
road, as well as being a lot cheaper to buy
than the equivalent V8 90.
However, although most Range Rover-
based hybrids are designed primarily for off-
road use, Les Thomson of the Scottish Range
Rover and Discovery centre has come up
with one that is designed almost exculsively
for using on-road. Coupling the looks of the
Range Rover with the passenger-carrying
capacity of the Discovery, Les calls it the
Strange Rover, and to date has made nine.
The idea for the vehicle came about as Les
was rebuilding accident damaged
Discoverys and Range Rovers for clients. He
wanted a vehicle for himself that could
combine the comfort of a Vouge SE with
enough space for seven passengers when
necessary. As Les had a fair amount of Range
Rover and Discovery panels in stock,
he set himself the task of merging two
vehicles into one.
After a couple of months work, the first
prototype was wheeled into the yard. As
both vehicles share the same chassis, mating
a Discovery with the Range Rover wasn't
actually that hard. The only major problem
was ensuring that the rear three quarter
panel matched the Range Rover's side
The interior of the Strange Rover is
predominantly Range Rover, with the front
seats, dashboard, rear seat and carpets all
originating from Solihull's finest. The rear
loadspace (complete with folding seats) and
headlining comes from the Discovery, which
meant that the first Strange Rovers produced
has mismatched rear loadspace trim, as you
cannot buy Discoverys with Brouge-style
grey interiors. Later, Nationwide Trim were
called in to retrim the loadspace, and now
everything matches perfectly.
The Strange Rover can be based on a Range
Rover of any age. After everything has been
stripped off and the chassis has been certified
as sound, the complete unit is fully
galvanised, while the front and rear axles are
powder coated to resist corrosion. The old
suspension is replaced with new springs and
shocks, and the finishing touch is the fitting
of a Genuine Parts anti-roll bar kit.
To power the vehicle, the client can order
either a 3.9 litre V8 or an approved diesel
powerplant. So far all Strange Rovers have
been built with the Mazda 3.5 litre
intercooled turbodiesel engine, and the
vehicle I drove performed extremely well
and was very quieteven at typical
motorway crusing speeds. The diesel had
been mated to the four speed ZF box, which
is very smooth and is, understandably, the
most popular gearbox amongst Les' clients.
At the moment, Les has three special
Strange Rover projects on the go: a 108 inch
LSE, a six-wheeler and an 118 inch stretched
wheelbase version, which will be powered
by a 320 bhp Porsche 5.0 litre 32 valve V8.
The LSE will use a brand new chassis and
bodyshell and will be fitted with a Janspeed
Turbo 3.9 litre V8, while the six wheeler will
feature six wheel drive, ABS and a Mazda
diesel. LRO will, of course, be bringing you
photographs of these vehicles when they are
completed and, I must say, I'm looking
forward to road testing the Porsche-engined
In the mean time however, Les hopes that
the 'standard' Strange Rover will be a
sucess. Certainly from my brief drive, there
can no doubt that none of the Range Rover's
inimitable style has been lost - there's just
that little bit more space available for people
with large families.
All Strange Rovers produced have a one-
year bodywork warranty, and a ten year
warranty on the galvanised chassis. The
usual warranty for the Mazda engine also
For further details contact Les Thomson at:
The Scottish Range Rover and Discovery Centre,
10 Shaw Road, Larkhall, Scotland, ML9 2TR.
Tel: 0698 886628.
This page is a HTML transcript of pages 90 and 91 of December 1993
Land Rover Owner International Magazine.
Article written by Nick Dimbleby.
The layout looks correct in Netscape 3.