This unrestored two-door classic is an early Range Rover - known in Land Rover circles as suffix ‘a’ cars, because there’s an ‘a’ at the end of the chassis number. It’s incredibly spartan; a world away from today’s cars. It was aimed at surveyors and land owners who needed a more refined off-road vehicle to cope with the advent of the motorway network yet still needed the hose-out interior utility of a Land Rover.
To cater for that brief, this Range Rover has vinyl on the floor, no stereo or power-steering; not even a heated rear screen. All-round coil springs with long-travel suspension means it has a peerless ride off-road, dismissing bumps and uneven surfaces in a manner similar to a Rolls-Royce. Then there is the power - or, more importantly, the torque – of that 3.5-litre V8 engine, which enables you to easily make progress.
If you ignore the lack of electronic gadgets, you realise that the Range Rover’s unique selling point of being a more refined off-road vehicle is as present in this early car as it is in the very latest offering.
2. 1966 Jaguar E-Type ‘Coombs’
Not only did John Coombs own one of the early Jaguar E-Types, he sold them and raced them as well. Because of that racing know-how, customers would often drop off their new car with Coombs to get engine and suspension upgrades. This distinctive roman purple coupé is a 4.2-litre car. As standard, the 4.2-litre put out 265bhp; however, technical data is scarce surrounding the Coombs upgrades and the classic team didn't have the heart to perform a complete engine strip-down to investigate. Early Autocar reports from when the Jaguar E-Type was launched suggested that race-spec 3.8-litre engines could put out significantly more than that 4.2-litre figure. After stretching this car a little, I would guess that 300bhp is a more likely number.
The Coombs E-Type is possibly the best version of ‘E’ you can drive, as all the upgrades give it the feel of something much more modern; even the brakes feel really strong. A remarkable feat for a car that is more than 50 years old. The suspension, even with the tweeks, is nice and compliant. Then there is that sonorous straight-six. It’s a real delight to drive.
It’s a drive that is likely to be exclusive to the classic experience, as this is the only Coombs-prepared car known in existence. If you are an E-Type connoisseur, it might be worth the admission price alone.
1. 1949 Land Rover Series I