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The Congleton Range Rover Classic Shows the Future of the Collectible SUV

If you’re interested in old SUVs, as I am, you probably already know about the ridiculous rise in value of the North American Specification (NAS) Land Rover Defender, which was sold here in the mid-1990s. You probably also know this rise in value has left behind basically every other Land Rover product, any of which you can usually find rotting away on Craigslist for a couple grand. Well, that’s starting to change: The original Range Rover (sold here from the late 1980s through 1995) is starting to earn its day in the sun, and I have proof.

The proof comes from Congleton Service, a shop in Vermont that’s becoming increasingly well known as having the go-to experts on the Range Rover Classic. I’ve heard of many people sending Range Rover Classics to Congleton in order to sort out their numerous faults, bypassing many Land Rover dealerships and independent mechanics along the way.

Well, Congleton has taken that expertise and turned it into what has to be basically the first full restoration of a Range Rover Classic yet: Congleton calls it the Congleton Certified #001, and it’s a 1994 Range Rover with basically every single part replaced, or refinished, or polished, or beautified, to the point where this thing looks exactly as it did when it drove off the production line nearly 25 years ago. According to Congleton, "All 7,400 components are fully disassembled before the restoration and modification can begin, and the finished product is as new."

Actually, it’s better than new — because Congleton offers a dramatic engine upgrade, too. According to Congleton, its restored Range Rover Classic models can be fitted with a 5.0-liter V8 that basically doubles the horsepower of the original and cuts the 0-to-60 time in half. The new engine is also based on an existing Land Rover V8, meaning you still have some originality. As Congleton says, "While a pre-made Chevrolet crate engine is simple to install and more affordable, Congleton does not offer that as an option." Humph.

The main reason I’m highlighting this is to continue proving a point I made back in the fall of 2015: that old SUVs are really starting to shoot up in value and interest. Here we have an expert shop devoted to a previously unloved vehicle, restoring one to such a high standard that it’s probably selling for the kind of money you’d spend on a brand-new Land Rover. But the person who buys this (and I suspect there will be a buyer for this one, and any other one of these Congleton makes) doesn’t want a new Land Rover. They want a cool old Range Rover Classic. And now they can buy the nicest one in existence. Find a used Range Rover for sale

Doug DeMuro is an automotive journalist who has written for many online and magazine publications. He once owned a Nissan Cube and a Ferrari 360 Modena. At the same time.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. These old Landrovers were awfully unreliable and hideous machines. But I like em much better than any other SUV or Jeep type vehicle on the inside…. maybe it was the windows?

  2. That one is beautiful, and I always thought the old ones were kind of cool.  Good to see society is catching up with me.

  3. How much would they charge to do yours, Doug? I know it’s the next generation, but I’m sure they could handle it. Great story – the “new” DougCar!

  4. You should see the insane amount the original two doors are fetching in the UK, Australia, New Zealand. I could have picked one up (a bit banged up but useable) 10 years ago for next to nothing, now bad ones are going for $30,000! Good ones, up to $100k (NZD) 

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a multitude of magazine publications and websites, including here at Autotrader — where he launched the Oversteer enthusiast blog — along with Jalopnik, GQ, and The Week. His YouTube channel has hundreds of published videos and has racked up hundreds of millions of views. Today, Doug lives in San Diego, California, with his 1997 Land Rover Defender 90 NAS, 2005 Ford GT, and 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon.

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