To buy or not to buy? - What do you reckon?

By: Glenn Torrens

Using recent and rational wisdom, Glenn Torrens considers collecting another cherished car. Or not …

To buy or not to buy? - What do you reckon?
Should Glenn get his hands on one?

I really want a Land Rover.

There … I wrote it. I’ve admitted it! It’s out!

When I was a kid, the TV show Ask The Leyland Brothers was a favourite. For their early adventures, Mike and Mal Leyland drove Land Rovers, as did other Aussie TV legends such as Harry Butler (In The Wild) and, later, Les Hiddins (The Bush Tucker Man). 

Inspired, I built Land Rover-ish toys from Lego and cornflakes packets to push around on the grass at primary school. In those days, riding in the back of a Land Rover ute on a farm or at a school fete was a special treat. For decades, the Australian Army used them and there were always a couple of old Landies angle-parked in country-town main streets.

The Land Rover brand celebrated 75 years last year and is a big part of motoring heritage internationally. It was lore that the first motor vehicle much of the world’s population saw was a Land Rover. Various TV shows had scientists, doctors and missionaries/do-gooders driving around mysterious places – such as Africa and Arnhem Land and New Guinea – in Land Rovers. Scenes of Land Rovers, maybe with the windscreen folded flat so its khaki-clad driver could aim a dart-gun to tranquilise a sick elephant, or lugging equipment to help the local villagers build mud-brick huts, are etched into my mind in the same way as grainy TV images of Toranas and Falcons lapping Bathurst.

One of my high-school teachers – in fact, the person who organised my work placement at Overlander 4WD magazine – drove a Land Rover. Later, some of my first magazine roles were to steer various Land Rover Discoverys and Range Rovers in tests with Nissan, Mitsubishi and Toyota 4WDs. Since then, mates and work colleagues have owned old Landies or Rangies as cheap ‘n’ cheerful camping or tow rigs.

Recently, Dave Morley and I helped dig a dusty 1957 Land Rover from a Kalgoorlie, WA backyard for the TV show Outback Car Hunters. We saved a Range Rover too. Travelling regional Australia, there’s hardly a day goes by without seeing a forlorn Land Rover in a yard, shed or paddock.

For a long time I’ve thought a Land Rover would be a great weekend fun machine. The Discovery’s tall cabin and big glass area – and those little roof windows – results in a lovely airy outlook and its alloy V8 is willing. Or maybe I’d tinker with the more traditional shape of the 1980s coil-sprung V8 County 110.

But Land Rover’s legendary reputation for unreliability hasn’t come from nowhere, either. It’s the result of plenty of hard work in the bush … 

I’ve been involved in fixing (or towing) Land Rovers in places such as the Simpson Desert or Vic High Country more often, I reckon, than any other 4WD brand. Morley owned a rattly Rangie … never again, he says. Even the ex-Kalgoorlie one in the TV show broke an axle while I was driving it for the camera!

I own a first-shape Mitsubishi Pajero V6. It’s another iconic 4WD, I reckon … Launched in 1982, the family-friendly Pajero inspired Land Rover to develop the Discovery (and Toyota the Prado!).

So maybe I’ll just keep enjoying my Pajero and keep dreaming of the perfect Land Rover without the possible problems of owning one! 

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