Wandering US in a UK spec Land Rover


New member
Little bit of a background:
This is long winded!

My girlfriend is a teacher, and I’m fortunate enough to have the freedom to do whatever. Which gives us the summer together, to do as we please. The last few years, we’ve really focused on exploring our own country (USA) The move has been, picking up random semi interesting vehicles and living out of unique Airbnb & Hotels along the way, and selling the vehicle upon returning. It’s worked out well, with only a few minor hiccups along the way.

Last summer we didn’t travel, due to obvious reasons. Aside from the grocery store, occasional hiking, and maybe a handful of other stores. I haven’t done anything since the pandemic started. I’m 33, but decided very early on I was going to stay away from other people. Not a chance I want to pass anything along, to someone who has a compromised immune system. For the first time in my life, I can truly say I know what depression feels like. Sitting around, not going to the gym, and not really watching my diet like normal has been taxing. It’s time to get my ass off the couch, but in a manner I feel is responsible.

Both of us have talked about hitting more remote destinations for hiking, and truly exploring our national parks. Along with, living out of a roof top tent. The allure has been there for years, but I’ve always compared it to a threesome. Sounds great on paper, but far more work than it’s truly worth.... Not to mention, this is basically all of my camping experience.


Yes, In places with tent pads, sometimes facilities, etc. Nothing like this fable trek we’ve chatted about many times.

Well, the time is actually nearing. Without Covid, I’m not sure we would have actually ever followed through with something like this. Thanks Covid :)

The hunt for a suitable rig:

This really only became a real thing at the end of March, it’s now the end of April. So a month... I bought a Land Cruiser a little over 2 hours from my home. It made the small journey home with no issues, but I bought it knowing I would need to give it lots of love. The realization set in quickly the following day, that there just wouldn’t be the time to finish it how I wanted by our set off date of June 1st. I still have it, but she’s for sale!

Back to hunting for another vehicle. I’ve always had a soft spot for Land Rovers. Mainly the Defender, and Discovery. I had a friend, who purchased an almost new at the time 04 SE7 Discovery. He took it off roading within the first few days of ownership, not knowing a single thing and being incredibly careless. It was a recipe for disaster. We were doing massive jumps within minutes of arriving, plowing through trees, etc. There wasn’t a panel without massive scratches, front bumper was busted, and cracked plastics throughout.All of us were laughing for hours. To be young, and stupid again! Great times. Since, I’ve always wanted one but have avoided due to the abysmal reliability, and that’s saying something. I’ve owned countless oddball vehicles!

Now, there has been one I would actually own and that is a Discovery paired with the 300tdi engine. Sadly, we never got these in the US. I’ve tried buying a few over the years, none ever panning out due to various reasons. Someone an hour away actually owns a swapped example, and offered to let me check it out and test drive it.


After arriving at his home, I find out he bought it for his 16 year old daughter. It’s her first car, a manual turbo diesel swapped Discovery and she was beyond pumped about this machine, and knowledgeable. Super rad! After checking it out, I wanted one badly. I could only find two on the market. One was a true 300tdi Disco, but was sold new without AC- so out of the question. The other was a swapped example with some rust, along with other minor issues and a firm price tag of nearly 20k. I knew if I were to purchase that, come time to unload I would lose thousands .

I did some hardcore digging on various forums, and some very old threads! Found someone who owned one, and asked if he was interested in selling. He reached out, and informed me he started to sell off some of his Rovers over the last year or so. He owned like 6 different Rovers at one time, and was considering letting go of the one I inquired about. He gave me a brief run down, and said he wanted $X for it. The price was fair, so I instantly agreed to purchasing. It’s currently on its way to me, and should be here by Tuesday!


Its a UK spec 300TDI Discovery, with an automatic transmission & AC. Both which will be appreciated by my girlfriend. It’s had nearly $9,000 worth of work. The top end has been redone, new radiator, intercooler, piping, lift kit, tires, etc. I haven’t seen it in person, but it sounds like a winner :) I will find out soon enough! I know it will need a headliner, which I have a shop that is going to custom make one. The awesome looking $2,000 roof rack isn’t ideal for a roof top tent. It’s way too tall, especially given the 2” lift & larger tires. Speaking of the tires, they are nearly $300 a piece and are bias ply! I prey they are live-able, as replacing brand new tires feels so wrong! The radio doesn’t work, so I picked up an alpine Bluetooth unit & all new speakers. Basically, I’ve been ordering a bunch of random stuff for something that’s not even in my possession yet.


Auto transport companies in my experience are almost never on time, hopefully it does show Tuesday. I have a shop who is going to custom make a new roof rack. I also need to pickup the roof top tent. Should be a productive week...

Nothing like having a 27 year old vehicle show up a month before you leave on a 3 month excursion, and plan to live out of :)


New member
Well, to my surprise the Landy arrived on time. The transporting company was great. Definitely a breath of fresh air!


I’ve owned a lot of stuff over the years, which has left me pretty numb to new toys. I was actually excited for this old junker to arrive. That excited me kept me from checking anything out before my first voyage around the block...

The first time attempting to stop was interesting! Barely any brakes, and it pulled very hard to the left. I was told it had new brakes, but they still pulled. . The front rotors were the thinnest I’ve ever seen in my life. Rear calipers weren’t working, with rotted rotors.

The following day, I had a window tint appointment 30 minutes away to make. Checked the oil, it was low, and checked the coolant. Nothing in the header tank.... Heart sinking moment. I filled it up, and decided to make the appointment. Made it there with no drama, other than the awful brakes and it darting all of the road. Really hard to keep it going straight. Checked the header tank once I got there, and it needed some more coolant... I’m not a window tint kinda guy, but after being out west a bunch it’s a must. These places have machines, that pre cut the film out for them. Well, the software only had a Discovery II which we found out has different sized windows. Turning a 2 hour job, into almost 8 hours! Not even enough time to tackle the windscreen. Long, and boring day sitting there. Someone wanted the SD rack that came with the Disco, so I dropped it off on my way home.

That trip was not without some heart stopping moments. Upon getting off the freeway, the low oil light turned on. Instantly tossed it in N, and shut it off, coasting into a gas station. This thing leaks everywhere, so I assumed it was loosing that much oil and hopefully not burning it..... Checked the oil, and the level was fine. Uh oh, oil pump issue, work motor, or extreme sludge. My mind was racing. Sat there and googled for awhile... Lots of threads on faulty oil sensors. Considering mine is leaking, and covered in oil. I talked myself into that being the issue, and drove home. The light never came back that night.

Next day, same deal. Got off the freeway and the low oil light was on. Turned it off and back on, light was gone. I was able to replicate this situation every single time I got off the freeway and came to a stop. Definitely not a sensor issue. Upon more digging, I realized the idle was a few hundred RPM low.... Adjusted that, and that was solved. Huge relief.

Picked up a used rack, for only $150 and it’s made in the US. Not a fan of how it mounts compared to the SD that came with the truck, but it will do... Picked up a RTT, which was a 3 hour round trip. Getting it mounted was a nightmare, took probably 3 hours. Going to modify the rack, as the tent sits way too high. Oh yeah, it has a working radio now. Replaced the head unit, and all of the speakers.

Yesterday I brought it to a shop I use for business sometimes, to have them replace the calipers, rotors & pads. Somehow forgot to order the rear calipers, so it sat at their shop half finished till today when a local parts store came through. $500 for labor, I thought they were joking when I was told the total. Yikes. Brakes and oil changes are those jobs it’s usually not even worth doing yourself, except not in this case ha ha.

Anyways, decent amount of progress for having it in my possession for a week. I have parts showing up daily, from all over the world. This rig needs lots of little things. I was told aside from the brakes pulling, it was in perfect mechanical shape. No expense spared. Well, every single hose is leaking. Coolant system wasn’t bled properly, and dexcool was used! Vacuum pump is shot. Full braking system was toast. It doesn’t have a new intercooler. Swivels are leaking, front diff is leaking. But, it’s biggest issue. The AC doesn’t work. I was told multiple times, ice cold air. Well, it’s missing half of the aircon system! There’s not even a condenser in this truck! Hilarious.

27 days till we head off. Really hope I can get this thing in solid working order....... Time shall tell

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Well-known member
I can't imagine making a purchase like that, sight unseen.
I'm on, maybe, a dozen forums. Only one has a solid enough reputation where most will buy stuff and most times even let a stranger help out with getting it from the seller to the buyer.
Buying used vehicles sucks, but I get the necessity!
Good luck with getting it where it needs to be by June 1st! Sounds like a great summer ahead, if you don't have to constantly battle the ride.

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Well-known member
You will have more adventure just trying to sort the disco than an actual adventure. Imagine how much less stressful it would be if you got a wrangler or taco or an f150. It would be all about the trip, not stressing over all the issues you will have. Is the GF prepared for this?

Anyway, you are on quite the journey of discovery!
Best of luck and keep posting!!!! If you get it all sorted it will be quite the rig!

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Well-known member
Ignore the haters so long as you’re a reasonably competent mechanic. I bought a cheap D1 that began our relationship by overheating on the 7 hour drive home. After some sorting it was fantastic and I regularly drove it from TX to FL and back, often pulling a trailer.
They are nice machines and the engine too. Check carefully the rust.
I have a range rover classic 300tdi (so, quite similar), and without special modifications we could wander Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and part of Algerian Sahara (Tassili n'Ajjer). Enjoy it

Jim K in PA

Sounds like a fair amount of misrepresentation of the condition by the seller. I hope you had a word with him/her. :(

After sorting it should be a fun rig.

I agree about the rack. I would cut the upper rail off just behind the midline vertical and mount the RTT to the lower rail. If you plan on using the front half of the rack for storage. If not, then remove it and just get some load bars.


New member
Hmmm. He took it to a shop for brakes -- about as simple as it gets -- so I'm thinking there's not much Brad Van Orden happening here.

But there's still time to earn that wernching merit badge. Looking forward to reading about it!

I took it to a shop for brakes, because I’m in between a new home build. Living in an apartment/townhome without a garage. I also retired @ 30, so sometimes throwing money at a problem is the easiest solution in my case. But, I will forever be cheap at my core, and paying that much in labor for a simple task will still sting ;)

Anyways, currently 6,500+ miles into the trip. On day 25? I’ll update this when we return, or have a few rainy days with nothing else going on.



New member
You will have more adventure just trying to sort the disco than an actual adventure. Imagine how much less stressful it would be if you got a wrangler or taco or an f150. It would be all about the trip, not stressing over all the issues you will have. Is the GF prepared for this?

Anyway, you are on quite the journey of discovery!
Best of luck and keep posting!!!! If you get it all sorted it will be quite the rig!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Indeed, I could have easily purchased just about anything else that would make the trek without a hiccup. That doesn’t appeal to me. Part of these adventures for me, is the vehicle itself and actually completing the trip in something interesting. Yes, she loves the Disco more than me I feel. I will probably sell when we return, as it was bought solely for this trip. She really wants it to stay around. For reference, I bought a brand new Ural a years back, because it’s the only way she feels comfortable on a “bike”. It was delivered a day before her birthday, so we decided to take it’s maiden voyage the following day to her birthday dinner. . Well, we ended up spending two hours waiting for a tow truck, and riding back home in it after the Ural decided to snap its driveshaft. Had we actually made it to the dinner, we wouldn’t remember a single thing about that night. Looking back, we vividly remember that night and still laugh about it. The extra effort, etc are appealing.

I’ve gone cross country and back on a single cylinder KTM. Pretty much the worst choice for such travels, especially given it was mainly a freeway trip. But, doing it on a comfy couch of a bike does nothing for me.

First world problems for sure....
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Glad to see you on the road- and trails! Sounds like things are going well- Eva Grace says hello as well!
Safe travels, and hope you enjoy the ride and the summer! Drop us a note sometime....

the deputy

Active member
Yep, anyone can travel anywhere in a new vehicle. Told my wife was driving to Alaska in the 1990 defender next summer, after a long stare...she says..."why don't you just go buy a new vehicle?" I'm like...no way, that's half (or more) of the adventure.


Rover on...

Looking forward to seeing more of your travels.

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