Thursday, 20 June 2013
THE EYE OF THE WINDOW BRIDGE
THIS ARCHED BRIDGE ON GENERAL WADE’S MILITARY ROAD FROM DUNKELD TO INVERNESS WAS BUILT ABOUT 1728 ACROSS THE ALLT A’ CHROMBAIDH. IN 1985 THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE PROTECTION OF RURAL SCOTLAND RESTORED IT WITH THE HELP OF VOLUNTEERS FROM THE SCOTTISH CONSERVATION PROJECTS TRUST AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE FROM MEMBERS AND FRIENDS, THE ERNEST COOK TRUST AND PERTH AND KINROSS DISTRICT COUNCIL. IT WON A “GLENFIDDICH-LIVING SCOTLAND AWARD” IN 1985. PRESENTED BY THE GLENFIDDICH DISTILLERY DUFFTOWN BANFFSHIRE. UNVEILED BY HIS GRACE THE DUKE OF ATHOLL ON 23rd MAY 1987
Here’s what I thought of the Range Rover in The Sunday Times: 27 September 1992
For 1993 it is stretched by 8in and provided with novel springs, which enable it to change its ride height at the touch of a button.
It gains an interior of polished wood veneer and saddle leather more suited to the grouse moor than the farmyard, and goes up in price. The top Vogue LSE will cost around £40,000, which distances it from the more practical Land Rover Discovery, now available with automatic transmission.
Long coil springs made the Range Rover the first cross-country vehicle with a road-going ride comparable to a saloon car. A few competitors are a close match in some respects, but none has its all-round competence.
The stout steel chassis and aluminium body have proved as enduring as its good proportions, and despite the recession, production of the Range Rover and Discovery is being increased.
It might seem perverse to make changes to anything so successful, but with the Discovery at around £20,000, the Range Rover can move up-market. The eight extra inches are devoted to rear legroom.
Engine power is increased to 200bhp from a 4.2 litre version of the evergreen V8.
The steel coil springs are replaced by electronic air suspension (EAS) and there is an electronic traction control system which supplies power to the wheels with the best grip.
The EAS system changes the ride height of the vehicle. There are five settings spanning a range of 130mm. The standard position, for normal roads up to 50mph, gives the same ride height as the metal springs. Above this the suspension drops 20mm to improve aerodynamics.
For off-road use the driver can select a position 40mm above standard for negotiating rough ground or wading, which can be increased by a further 30mm for pulling out of boggy soil, or after grounding on rocks.
Access mode lowers the Range Rover 60mm to make getting in and out easier. An electronic control unit (ECU) receives signals from the height sensors, and takes account of road speed, engine speed, footbrake, handbrake, the automatic transmission selector, and the door-closing switches so that access mode is not selected when somebody is getting in or out, or the vehicle is moving.
The Range Rover's astonishing off-road performance gains an extra dimension with EAS, and it maintains its equilibrium regardless of load.
The ride on the road is very little better than that of a steel-sprung Range Rover, but the plush interior and extra room enhances its appeal for the well-to-do who feel the need for an all-purpose vehicle.
The Sunday Times Motoring, Range Rover Vogue 23 June 1991
The Range Rover was a masterpiece in 1970. The door catches were generously designed for gloved hands because it was an all-weather working vehicle, with big plastic-covered seats, and rubber on the floor. It was the first convincing dual purpose car which behaved like a Land Rover off the road and a fast comfortable saloon on it.
The door handles are dainty affairs now with little flaps electrically heated to stop them freezing. The robust tall body is little changed; the performance has been improved and it is as versatile as ever but with leather upholstery and pile carpets it is for grouse moor picnics rather than cross country surveys.
Twenty-one years of steady inflation and extra gadgets has taken the price from £1,998 including purchase tax to an imposing £34,450 for the best-equipped Vogue with car tax and VAT. Now besides the heated handles it has air conditioning, cruise control, anti-lock brakes, leather upholstery and electrically adjustable seats.
Muddy gumboots are as out of place here as in a sitting room yet the Range Rover remains a masterpiece. Rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen have caught up with it in quietness and refinement but not in style. The added-on strips and grilles have not enhanced Spen King's and David Bache's crisp 1970 original. Range Rovers which have survived the two decades can be shabby, but their aluminium bodies, stout frames and vigorous V8 engines could see them through another two.
It has been flattered by imitators of which only one, the derivative Land Rover Discovery at just over half the price, provides worthwhile competition. The lusty V8 uses a lot of fuel; most owners will be lucky to see much over 16 mpg. This autumn's changes to the Range Rover can only support its claim to be the best field transport for the clean-wellied.