Range Rover 4.6 HSE | Shed of the Week

The P38 is Shed royalty. What better time to stand back in rapt amazement…

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, 5 May 2023 / Loading comments

It’s four years almost to the day since Shed last found an SOTW-qualifying P38 Range Rover in the PH Classifieds. That one was a 1999 4.0 with 125,000 miles on the clock, a fresh, squeaky-clean MOT cert in the glovebox, and a sticker on the windscreen that said £1,300. Today’s P38 is both earlier (1994), leggier (195,000) and more expensive (£1,889) but he still likes the look of it.

Why? Well, sometimes you have to go with your gut, and Shed’s gut is bigger than most. This RR presents very well in its dark green paint, non-minging wheels and nicely aged tan leather interior. The steering wheel has been gaffer-taped but there are no warning lights on the dash and it appears to be sitting nice and level. The cabin is lightly creased, there’s a custom-cut sheet of what could be either carpet or plywood protecting the tailgate and the rear compartment looks almost unused. Clearly, it’s been on the receiving end of some love in its life.

Although there are some advisories on the test certificate, they’re the kind of honest issues that you’d expect to see on any near-25-year-old Range Rover – suspension wear, small oil and power steering fluid leaks, teeth marks on the steering wheel, that sort of thing. 

The story with the 1999 4.0 P38 from May 2019 is different. It failed its MOT in November 2020 having passed with flying colours a year and a bit earlier (Covid). In that year and a bit it went from no advisories and nothing in the previous tests to suggest it was about to expire, to death. That’s the thing with old Range Rovers. They’re always ready to surprise you with their amazing ability on or off-road and with their equally remarkable ability to develop shocking faults that are too difficult and/or expensive to put right. 

There is another side to the story though. You could be lucky, one of those people who buy a Range Rover that’s been sitting in a field for umpteen years, who put tyres and brakes on it and who have been enjoying an idyllic life ever since, the only failure being one bulb. That actually happened. 

As you might expect, Shed has a P38. He bought it just after he’d been given his P45 by the garage he used to work for after they found out he had been selling blank receipts to customers. Shed likes a bit of rough road action, and in the company of the postmistress he has explored many routes, passages, clefts and fissures that he’s never been allowed to explore with Mrs Shed. The stories of unreliability and failure that pursue not just P38s but any old Land Rover don’t frighten him. He knows that there is a massive store of LR knowledge out there and that the fixes are usually easy and cheap, if somewhat random. As an example (also real), his pal has just discovered that the recommended fix for his Disco 2 going into third-gear limp mode is to replace the reversing light bulbs with LEDs. Go figure.

You might not be quite as brave as Shed, and that would be fair enough because the ways in which one of these can go wrong are indeed legion. It’s impossible to list them all here. Shed knows this to be true because he has tried in the past to do just that, only to find that his exhaustive list has quickly grown to twice the size in the forums. Still, he’s never one to shirk a challenge, unless it’s coming from Mrs Shed of course, so here’s his latest effort at a P38 4.6 list of things that might cast a cloud over your life, in no particular order of nastiness or frequency. There will be others.

Air suspension. Air bags. Heater blend motors. Heated seats. Headliners. Batteries. Coolant leaks leading to engine overheating. Oil leaks. Screen washer leaks. Brakes. Electric windows. Radios. Speedometers. Fuse boxes. Alternators. Diffs. Viscous couplings. Air conditioning. Central locking. Hilarious mpg (9mpg round town, less when towing).

On the plus side, it is entirely possible to enjoy Range Rover ownership. You just need to be open-minded, gung-ho and willing to smile bravely at disasters, either impending or real-time. The drivetrain (16-valve 4.6 V8, four-speed auto) was strangely reliable, the odd cylinder liner apart, and reasonably nippy considering the 2,220kg it had to pull around. 

Armed with 225hp at 4,750rpm and 277lb ft at 3,000rpm it mustered a 0-60mph time of 9.3sec and a nature-defying 125mph top end. Chuck an LPG tank into the spare wheel well and it’ll do 14-16mpg, the cost equivalent (if you were still putting petrol in it) of something in the high 20s. To replace a viscous coupling you’ll need someone as strong as Mrs Shed to lift it up to the transfer box, so you might have to pay a garage to do that, but heater blend motors and airbags aren’t expensive or difficult to mend and suspension pumps can be rebuilt for less than £15.

Serial elite car buyers have sworn that the P38 that entered into their lives was the most comfortable car they’ve ever had. Others have just sworn. Which one are you? There’s only one way to find out. 

Source: Read Full Article