Stage 1 V8 Station Wagon
Year of registration: '82/Y
Owned: June '99 to October '01
I lay the blame for buying this vehicle firmly at the feet of some friends of mine who had a Stage1 of their own. It was finished in a very striking Masai Red, which looked great, and the V8 both sounded superb and had bags of power. It was also much bigger than my SWB Series III, which had a definite appeal too.
Basically, I had to have one!
After viewing a couple of rough vehicles, I came across WPB 281Y. It had a very low mileage and, apart from the non-standard grill, it looked immaculate. The latter was somewhat misleading, it later turned out, but the deal was done!
Right from the outset, I wanted to fit the correct grill and badges so that it looked like a proper Stage 1. However, before I had the chance for that, I discovered that the locating pin on the left hand front spring had sheared off and the axle had moved backwards. This led me fit parabolic springs all round in fairly short order. I then discovered - on its' first green lane run - that it overheated at low speeds, which after much head scratching turned out to be that the viscous fan had been fitted backwards!
These things, and few minor issues whilst sorting out the correct grill and bumper, led me to conclude that it had been involved in an accident. The Meccano-like nature of the vehicle meant that this wasn't an insurmountable problem, but it was frustrating to say the least.
With the initial teething problems sorted out, I was able to turn my attention to some modifications. With the exception of restoring the proper Stage 1 front end, the most obvious change was the colour: whilst the existing paint finish was excellent, the Russet Brown colour was awful. I decided on a radical change and went for something very close to RAC orange - actually a VW colour. After an abortive attempt myself, I had it professionally sprayed, including the replacement of the front doors with new bottoms and second hand ex-military alloy door tops. I think I must have started a trend as this was about two years before Land Rover chose something very similar for the G4 Challenge vehicles!
Other changes including a Brownchurch full length roof rack, high level rear lights, forward control wheel rims and 235/85 BFG Trac Edge tyres.
This really proved to be a great vehicle. It had character, presence and was hugely capable. It also served as a wedding car for my wife and I and, after we spent the first day of our honeymoon with it on display on the Series III Club stand at the Land Rover Marque Day at Gaydon, it even featured in a TV documentary.
My decision to part with it after just over two years was prompted partly by a possible house move that would have seen me travelling further to work and partly because of a nagging doubt about the prospects for long term Stage 1 ownership. It was a great vehicle to drive and was in excellent condition, but I was increasingly finding that certain parts were no longer available. At best this meant that it would inadvertently achieve ‘classic car’ status, where the challenge of some repairs would be in finding or making the required part. At worst, a serious mechanical failure of certain components could see it unusable for long periods of time and so it made way for my first Discovery.
Last updated: 22-Sep-11