It seemed like a good idea at the time, But then they always do...
Ever since I was a small child, bouncing around in the sideways-facing jump seats in the back of my Uncle's Land Rover, I wanted one. Living in the UK they were everywhere, so there was no hurry. You could get an ex-military Defender for about three grand. Fit a better turbo-diesel, get it to run on cooking oil and it was the vehicle for the zombie apocalypse.
Then I moved to the US. With more public land and second or third cars being common, the Land Rover seemed like an even better idea. But bloody hell, have you seen the prices?
People were asking $100k for restored NA-spec Defender 110s. The Lara Croft-style 90s were going for half that, and all had thirsty V8s. The plan was shelved and an E-Type became my new mission.
But wouldn't you know it, after years of idle searching, an ex-MoD 1986 Land Rover 110 FFR popped up on the local Craigslist. It belonged to a collector who listed it for one week and tried reasonably hard to convince me it was slow and pointless.
Being a collector, I hoped he'd found a good one. It seemed in reasonable condition considering its life as a military vehicle.
Admittedly it's an eccentric choice of transport but it's left-hand drive and has the non-turbo 2.5L diesel. There's a sign riveted to the dash warning you against exceeding 60mph. I should be so lucky!
Still, the 110 will be a great project: not simply because it's already broken down...
The first task, however, is to find a local source of spare parts and inspiration.
While the Land Rover was as functional as I'd expected, the latest 2013 Range Rover was far more capable than anticipated. It was ridiculously impressive on our Arizona trek and dealt with the off-road portion better than any $100k grand tourer should.
As you'll read, we went 'Squatching; inspired by my fascination for Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot TV series.
When we reached out to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization for help with the story, founder and TV presenter Matt Moneymaker was kind enough to respond in person. It turns out he's a huge Land Rover fan and has owned several.
We hoped to include Matt in our story but Discovery Channel's lawyers found all sorts of reasons to prevent it from happening. However, we were happy to work with Tim Zamiski in his place, who was a great guide.
If you want to see how we got on with the Range Rover, we have a video at www.europeancarweb.com
We also took a video crew to our track test with the FR-S, GTI and M3. It's on the Motor Trend YouTube channel in the Head2Head section.
I also got suckered into taking part in Wide Open Throttle on the same channel to explain our tongue-in-cheek bias for the GTI and M3 - there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Scion, if only it was European!