The first Range Rovers have become classic icons, simply because they were so totally revolutionary. Before the RR was launched in 1970, estate cars were dull, utilitarian and boring. Suddenly this go-anywhere, lantern-jawed V8 appeared, and a new type of car was born. In ’71 new Rangies were changing hands for hefty premiums over list price, and the Solihull factory couldn’t build them fast enough. Originally designed for well-heeled farmers, within months of its launch the Range Rover had stunned the world by becoming a fiercely desirable fashion statement. And it’s stayed that way ever since.
But its one of those classic cars you can still find in barns and small ads for sensible money. And any 70s two-door V8 is definitely worth restoring. The very earliest examples, with an ‘A’ at the end of the chassis number, can sell for over £30,000. But find any of the pre-production, road test or launch cars (look for YVB, NXC or PXC in the registration) and you’ve got something that’s potentially worth £100,000. Collectors go nuts for the earliest ’70 and ’71 models, and even though they’re basic – with plastic seats, unassisted steering and manual gearboxes – prices keep on rising because these were the actual cars that kick-started the global SUV revolution. And we don’t think values are going to stop climbing anytime soon.
Rust is their biggest enemy (even though much of the body is aluminium) and cars in original condition are always worth the most. But don’t be put off by worn interiors and faded paint, because parts and specialists are everywhere, and rebuilding or reconditioning a tired early Rangie isn’t as difficult as you’d think. The best bargains are the later four-door models that we think are undervalued right now. You can still buy a fresh-looking mid 80s four-door, which has the same boxy shape as the first cars but a more refined and easier drive, for as little as £6,000. We’d avoid the diesel versions and always go for the petrol V8s, as they’re much faster, smoother and responsive.
As a practical classic you can drive everyday, the first-generation Range Rover (now known as the Classic) is a beguiling thing that makes a charismatic beast of burden and a shrewd long-term investment.