Automobiles have always held a remarkably special place in my heart, they give me great pleasure via most of the human sensory systems, the feel of supple leather, the smells of anti-corrosion solutions and diesel fuel, the sounds of dual clutch transmissions banging through gears, the taste of the air plagued with vaporized tires at the drag strip, and of course visual bliss.
In my previous remarks I stepped up on my soap box and went on for a minute or three about how I put 40k miles on a Mercedes-Benz wagon that was over a decade old in a pretty short period of time. My V8 powered station wagon tackled most of the obstacles I threw at it but the time had come to move on. Owning automobiles from different levels of the automotive masochist scale, how do I take things to the next level? No it doesn’t have to be super cheap, nor insanely expensive to tickle my fancy. What are my needs these days? Storage, open air and winter functionality were key in this round of luxo-barge roulette. With the items described I could certainly rush to my local FCA dealer to acquire a new loaded Wrangler, but where is the challenge in that?
Instead I dove head first into a Land Rover Freelander SE3, one of only 3 available via multiple resources at the time of procurement.
When the Land Rover Freelander hit US soil for the 2002 model year, I was absolutely fascinated. A small but capable off-roader affordable by the masses with an entry point in the mid-twenties. A vast majority of its sales were in he form of pedestrian four door, traditionalist approach for a Sport Utility algorithm. Lucky for me, someone was brave enough to acquire an elusive “SE3”, a two door removable top convertible, and then kept it going for fifteen years!
As with buying any older car, especially one from Europe, a list of maintenance items were on my short list. My example had traveled just barely half of the national mileage average per year of about 7500 annually, leading me to believe this would be a good place to start. My first check engine lamp illuminated on my initial drive home, and the first traffic stop came only four days into driving the Freelander for a tail lamp out. A small shopping list began for an independent Land Rover parts supplier, Atlantic British who happens to be based in my neck of the woods. I had a feeling we’d become well acquainted quickly.
Stereotypically an inoperable tail lamp would never be a simple as a bulb replacement in a Land Rover, as the tail lamp assembly is held in place with fasteners that require torx bits, things I’ve not had to think about since last owning a Volvo. The only thing this goofy shape should ever be used for is the Mont Blanc logo. Upon digging through my garage to find the appropriate set of tools and a replacement 1157 bulb; I can’t understand why on earth I was surprised when the lamp filaments were perfectly fine but the bulb socket had in fact melted.
A quick shopping trip for bulb sockets (yes I purchased a spare, turn signal repeater assemblies (one was cracked and it’s no longer available in the smoked clear so a pair of Amber were required), spark plugs and ignition coils, windshield wiper blades, and an order for tires has got this little Rover road worthy yet again. While having the car apart to replace the absolutely hideous looking spark plugs I also added my typical touch of large yellow driving lamps I managed to repurpose from my wagon.
A combination bracket and miniature bull bar sourced from Amazon made ease of my mounting dilemma with the factory partial brush guard and snow tires for this application were the Goodyear Nordic Winter.
The amount of hate I received from my first personal facebook post announcing the acquisition of #LiamTheLandy was absolutely hysterical. Angry mobs came out of the woodwork to announce their distaste for this oddball itty bitty Ute.
The best comment was: “… Freelanders are complete and utter garbage vehicles. You traded that beautiful E Class Estate for THAT?!?!?
You’re utterly mad. Completely bonkers. That thing will be in the shop more than it will be on the road.”
A quick reminder, but those comments were by by my friends, not the general masses! Luckily I was in my local pub for the digital lapidation that came my way.
I have just managed to crest my first two thousand miles with the SE3 on a trip this week to the Washington Auto Show with no significant anomalies aside from usual old car things… but stay tuned!
Be sure to follow @RealPoshCars on twitter and Instagram and @LiamTheLandy on Instagram for real time updates!