Dad bought his first and only Land Rover in 1995. It was a 1993 Defender 110 Tdi with approximately 75 000 km on the clock and a reputation for unreliability. Why he wanted a Defender I don't know, but today it has over 400 000 km on the clock and has rendered faithful service.
We had to bruise some knuckles initially to fix up many small things on the Defender, as it was clear that the things that was supposed to be done under the stealer's service plan, was simply not attended to. With that sorted, it just kept on running and brought us home each time.
In spite of the good times I had in the Defender, it was a vehicle that I just never fell in love with, mostly because of the pathetic ergonomics. With the joy generated by my Safari's, I had a hard time working up a appetite for a Land Rover of my own.
Then, in the winter of 2009 we found five puppies in the school yard, the litter of a stray dog. I knew they would end up at the SPCA and if they did not get owners in time, they would be put down. I got owners for three of the five puppies, unfortunately had to put one down because of Entropion and took the last one for myself.
We had not owned a dog for many years, but being devoted dog lovers the Shar-Pei cross instantly stole our heart. Before I knew it, she slept with us in the main bedroom and obviously she was a passenger in the car whenever circumstances allowed. My wife had a very neat Jetta 4 Tdi as a runabout and I soon realised that the pristine leather interior would be tatty within a few weeks from nail marks. The problem was that the Safari was not at all a very convenient daily runabout and I needed a different type of vehicle immediately.
My initial choice was the old Opal Astra Estate, but after viewing about six sorry samples and having lost a a neat one, when the car was written off minutes before I made the EFT to the owner, I came back to reality. Having owned an Opel Monza 160 Gsi years before, I promised myself never an Opel again since Delta discontinued many parts before the cars were ten years old. I found that totally unacceptable.
As a Safari loyalist, it was with utter shock that I realised I was thinking to replace my beloved Safari with a Land Rover Discovery, when one Saturday morning I walked past a used car dealership and there one stood in the window. With a careless what-the-hell-what-can-I-loose attitude, I opened it up and begrudgingly had to admit that this was indeed a spot-on design for blended daily use and proper off road work.
It took quite a bit of cognitive reorganising, before I started looking for a Tdi and soon found that they were as hard to find as the Loch Ness Monster, since their owners did not part with them easily. I was patient and did not set a time frame for finding one. This could be a long wait as it is not easy to find a ten year old car in great shape – especially not a model that rarely enters the market.
Once again, life surprised me with a perfect vehicle within two or three weeks, from a passionate owner in Gauteng for a mere R55 000. I rented a car and drove up the next morning. My first sight of the vehicle revealed a Landrover in mint condition.
While with the Safari's it was love at first sight, it took the Discovery more than a year of skilled courtship to finally win my heart. Despite the fact that the Disco outperformed all the Safaris in terms of comfort, power and economy.
The Discovery does not lend itself to modifications, which probably explains why most of them sold are still stock standard. It is not even possible to fit larger tyres on a Disco 1 because of the small wheel arches. Those who have tried it, only have minced-up wheel arches to show.
I was therefore limited to minor modifications only. Firstly, the mag rims were exchanged for proper Land Rover Steel rims to fit in with my conservative nature regarding things mechanical. Mag rims can crack in broken ground, while a steel rim at least leaves room for repairs, if it dents.
The dual battery system was taken over from the Safaris, as well as the old Conlog Cruise Control.
In June 2010, I did Atlantis dunes and quickly came to terms with the poor approach angle of the Discovery, ripping off all the Tupperware from the front bumper. This accident doubled up when the bonnet lock which was a bit sticky, only half locked after I closed the bonnet. It stayed nicely in place until I hit the tar road back to Cape town and it flipped open just as I reached 100 km/h. The bonnet broke it's back right where the roof and windscreen meets and I urgently had to find another bonnet before going back home. That is why my Disco still have a silver bonnet to this day. The bumper was also replaced with an all steel unit and while not as stiff as a genuine ARB, or the likes, it offers a lot of additional protection at the front.