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The Manual Land Rover Discovery: Yes, They Exist

Did you know that you could buy a manual Land Rover Discovery in the U.S. during the SUV’s first generation? Most people don’t realize that a manual was ever an option since it was dropped for the second generation — and since manual transmissions have become almost nonexistent in SUVs, outside of a few base-level trims and the Jeep Wrangler. In fact, the first-generation Discovery was the last Land Rover you could buy in the U.S. with a stick, beating out the Defender by two model years. I probably wouldn’t have known it was possible if it wasn’t for the fact that my uncle actually has one.

He bought his Discovery new back in 1996, and he still has it today. He managed to find a top-trim SE7 on the lot with the cool rear jump seats and sunroofs and a manual transmission, even though they were pretty rare. After more than 160,000 miles, it remains in pretty great condition, as he’s meticulously taken care of it regardless of the expense — which has surely been great. It remains the primary hauler of his family and their things, and it will likely stay in that role until it becomes physically impossible to keep it on the road. He’s given me right of first refusal when it does come time to sell it — but I wouldn’t be surprised if it has 300,000 miles by that time

Unfortunately, a manual Land Rover Discovery is rarer now than it was back then. There aren’t any for sale on Autotrader right now across the entire country, and the only one I’ve ever seen for sale was on the Hemmings classic car marketplace — and even that was in poor condition. There’s very little information out there, but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that there are only a few hundred left in existence across the country — and probably half are in a driveable condition.

Older SUVs are a hot trend in car collecting, with classic Toyota FJ40s, Ford Broncos, Jeep Grand Wagoneers and even Range Rovers appreciating in value. The Discovery could be at the forefront of the next wave of classics, especially considering the unique design, the off-road prowess and the rapidly depleting stock of vehicles. Collector-worthy Discos are difficult to find among the multitude of beaters, but the prices have only just begun to rise. Those rare manual Discovery models will surely prove more valuable in the long run, provided they were taken care of properly. I just hope there are some left in the country to become a collector’s item by the time the market catches up. Find a Land Rover Discovery for sale

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  1. I have one parked in my back yard, mated to a 200tdi, if anyone wants it.

    I also bought a 1996 D1 SE7 5spd back around 2001 off lease.  I was driving through Northern California in my Jeep (which I’d bought to be sensible even though I wanted a Discovery) and while I was waiting for it to be fixed in this tiny town just big enough for a Chrysler dealer, I went online and saw that the only 5spd Discovery for sale in California was sitting on a lot across the street from me.  Talk about serendipity.  So I went over there and paid asking price for it that afternoon. It was fully loaded and I loved it, except for the rubbish V8.  Lots of good memories off-roading that truck around the desert.
  2. You poor Americans, we had the option on the Disco until 2010! The originals were great – my gran had a series 1 V8 manual (very rare in the UK most went for the diesel), many fond memories.

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