The Range Rover P38 is seen as the marque’s low-point in terms of reliability. That may be the case in general, but today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Vitesse has managed more than 200K and still looks, and seemingly runs, like new. What might that anomaly be worth?
Well, as it turned out, the question as to whether yesterday’s 1988 Acura Legend Coupé was worth its $4,700 asking was answered by the seller, who dropped the price to $3,200 while we were in the middle of our deliberations. That’s a major reduction, perhaps a reflection on a lack of nibbles at the original price, and an assurance that our 68 percent Crack Pipe loss was a fairly accurate read.
Don’t you just love mundane automotive lore? I mean things like Carroll Shelby naming the Mustang GT350 after the number of steps between buildings at his shop or how Lamborghini got its start after Enzo Ferrari told tractor magnate Ferruccio Lamborghini to “go make his own cars” after the latter had complained about the quality of Ferrari’s clutches. Good stuff!
Today’s 1997 Range Rover Vitesse HSE is another example of this. During the model’s development, Land Rover gave it the code name P38. Like E30 for the ‘80s edition of the BMW 3-series, that’s a name that would stick with the model throughout its life.
Now, you might think that the designation had something to do with the P-38 Lightning, a WWII-era twin-engine fighter plane out of Lockheed, but that’s not the case. P38, it seems, was simply the name of the office building at Solihull in which the model was developed.
That development was a long-time coming as the second generation Range Rover appeared after its predecessor had been on the market for almost a quarter of a century. In its waning model years, the first-gen model served as a testbed for some of the P38’s technology, adopting air suspension and adding an extended-wheelbase model that rode on a chassis that would later underpin the new car.
With all that time and real-world testing, you would imagine the P38 would have been one of the most well-sorted and reliable cars on the market. That didn’t turn out to be the case, however. Today, the P38 has the reputation of being one of Land Rover’s least reliable and hence most frustrating models ever.
Perhaps, however, that reputation is not wholly deserved. I mean, if Land Rover products in general, and P38s specifically are considered unreliable, how is it that there are so many of them still rolling around with over 200K on the clock like this one? Riddle me that, batman.
That’s right, this amazingly yellow P38 Vitesse sports 208,000 miles under its factory alloys, and not only is it seemingly still standing and running but it looks George Clooney cool while doing it. That Aa Yellow paint was one of two color options offered on the Vitesse, the other being Monza Red and it sure stands out on the big wagon.
The bodywork beneath that, as well as the copious black trim and accessory bull bars all look to be as-new too. Remarkably, this is a 23-year-old car that’s done six digits twice over and it still looks this good? Somebody get Dorian Gray on the phone.
Things are just as remarkable inside, which is awash in black leather upholstery with crazy-cool yellow piping on the seats. Nothing in here, not those handsome seats, nor the dash or the English manor wood trim belies the truck’s age and claimed use. The seller touts that the car exhibits no warning lights or onerous gauge readings either. That’s pretty impressive for a Land Rover product since dashboard indicators are so common on certain of the marque’s models that owners have given them collective names like “the three amigos.”
Power here comes from Land Rover’s long-serving all-aluminum V8. In the Vitesse that’s been punched out to 4.6 litres and gets Bosch fuel injection, a gift from then corporate overlord, BMW.
That gives you 225 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque as well as fuel economy that will have OPEC members sending you thank you notes for your support. A ZF four-speed automatic backs that up, and of course, the car comes with Range Rover’s famous full-time AWD
The engine benefits from a recent cooling system update that saw the replacement of the radiator and water pump. There’s no mention of other issues—leaks, coolant loss, etc.—any of which could spell doom for the mill.
Another pain point on these cars is that air suspension—the EAS system. That has been replaced with aftermarket steel springs which likely means no cool adjustable ride height shenanigans, but also no blown bags leading to a flatbed drive-off of shame either.
The title is clean and the seller notes that the car just recently passed its smog test which is a golden ticket for title transfer here in California. The asking price is $7,500 which is a sizable reduction from the car’s original $66K MSRP. That’s reflective of its age and reputation (which we’re not 100% sure it deserves, remember) and not its presentation, which seems for all intents and purposes nearly new.
Ah, but is that enough? What do you think, is this Range Rover worth that $7,500 asking? Or, does that price make this yellow P38 a lemon?
H/T to Daniel D. for the hookup!
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