Use it or lose it... even when it's the Land Rover Defender

Holy Grail of Classic Land Rover Defenders

The Holy Grail of Classic Land Rover Defenders. - Credit: Paul Jolly

The Rover group were in need of a new engine in the 1960s for the big 3-litre cars, the like of which were used by many politicians in Whitehall.

The old straight six engine was a heavy lump and just increasing the size for more power was not the answer since it would add more weight.

They bought the rights to Buick’s all-alloy 3.5 litre V8 and this remarkable engine went on to power the Range Rover, the Rover 3500, Morgans, TVRs, MGBs and even the Sherpa Van.

However, they kept the best till last and in the mid-1980s, made a limited number of Land Rover Defenders with a de-tuned version of this V8.

The current four-cylinder diesel and petrol engines were OK but a bit rudimentary and Land Rover wanted to counter the new wave of sophisticated Japanese 4x4s.

The Holy Grail of Classic Land Rover Defenders is now regarded to be the 90 County V8 with its plush interior and go-anywhere ability but with massive torque, which is actually what powers motorcars rather than outright horsepower.

They sound pretty cool as well.

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The vehicle pictured here is very rare with just 38,000 miles from new, totally original and never resprayed.

It can be found at the Bonhams Beaulieu auction on Sunday, September 5.

It happens to be my own classic of 21 years but since I bang on that classic cars should be used not just stored, I have to take my own medicine.

You see, it went for its annual MOT and I am embarrassed to say the only mileage in one year was to the previous MOT test, so it has to go.

The last time I used it properly was to collect two tonnes of gravel chippings in my one-tonne trailer, a task it managed with complete ease and within the law on towing limits.

I did this for several days and apart from a painful fuel bill, the job was a doddle.

Sad times but, hey, I wonder if I can fit into a Morgan!