All of which is why 120 Discoverys of all ages, shapes, conditions and hues, plus around 300 people, foregathered there last Saturday to celebrate the model’s 25th birthday. They’ve been going there since it was 20, but this year was a bit special. Entrants came from all points of the compass, starting with a photo-call on Saturday morning before setting off to retrace some of the test routes of 1989 and settle at a nearby campsite on the Mount Edgcumbe estate.
Cossetted in a 64-plate Discovery HSE Luxury, the Steering Committee and I joined them on the Hoe, chatting to Discovery Club members and admiring the cars. Stars of the show were a smattering of original Discoverys with G---WAC number plates, which showed they were among the 80-odd original three-door models built and registered for the original press launch.
The lurid decals on their flanks, once criticised but now celebrated, drew attention to the earliest models, still impressive for the modern, airy quality of their cabin design, attributed at the time to celeb furniture designer Jasper Conran but (now it can be told) not all his own work.
What struck us was the self-contained cheeriness of the several hundred people who were there, happy in one another’s company and with the simple achievement of having arrived. And the disparate spec of the vehicles was fascinating.
One, obviously used for extreme off-roading, didn’t have a single straight panel (roof included) and its owner had proudly kept it that way. Another was a healthy, hand-painted Mk 1 farm workhorse, clearly with many years of useful life still ahead.
Many were kitted out with racks and rails containing get-you-home equipment and well-stowed camping gear. No two cars were identical; nearly every one has clearly done things well beyond a normal car’s capability.
In the circumstances, we were glad to have parked our shiny newcomer out of the way. It hadn’t yet earned its spurs like this distinguished group.
But as we rolled quietly home, enjoying favourite music enhanced by the Disco 4’s sensationally low levels of road noise, we also knew that this brand new 1000-miler would face tough obstacles of its own before too long, because Land Rover believes as stoutly as ever in demonstrating that its cars can handle tough conditions. And it would defeat them, just like its brave ancestors.